Not long ago, Paula found Ram in the Thicket and has been using my wool to make some of her lovely primitive items. She has a style that I really like, and it's a true pleasure to see my wool used in her pieces. Paula has her own website, Folk and Formal, and the name describes her style pretty well. I will let her tell you more about herself, though. I have invited her to write a post, by way of introduction. Take it away, Paula!
Good day, wool lovers!
I’m Paula Driscoll — married for 38 years to my high-school sweetheart, mother of three grown daughters, and soon to be a grandmother. I have a new online business with two of my daughters featuring primitive smalls and our hand-crafted folk art ~ Folk and Formal.
Paula and daughters Erin and Barclay
I do almost all of the sewing and hand-stitching for our business. I like to work with many fabrics—cotton, linen, velveteen, upholstery tapestries. And I like to do many kinds of hand stitching—cross stitch, needlepunch, embroidery, sashiko. But I LOVE to appliqué wool!
I love wool! It’s warm and it’s cool. It can be machine washed and dried. Once fulled, its cut edges won’t fray (no edges to turn under while stitching). A needle and thread just glides through it (no sore fingers). It is a joy to work with.
My style is folky primitive, but with my own spin. I call it “modern primitive”. I stitch folk art patterns using a limited color palette that almost always includes one dominant color, plus black and cream and neutrals for variety. My favorite pattern designers include Maggie Bonanomi, Jan Patek, Lori Brechlin, Kindred Spirits, Blackbird Designs, Karen Kahle, and Janet Bolton. As I continue to work with wool, I’ve learned a few things that may be helpful to those of you who stitch wool.
Figure out what works for you and how you want to spend your time. I don’t dye my own wool anymore—too frustrating and time-consuming. That’s how I found Susan at Ram in the Thicket. She has any color I want, in any size I need and is delightful to work with!
Don’t be afraid to re-style or re-size a pattern to suit your project. Or you could design your own pattern--think copy machine for enlarging and reducing, light box (or sunny window) for tracing, or your own motifs sketched out and traced onto quilting template plastic. Or be brave and free-hand cut your wool motifs!
In addition to basic sewing supplies, I could not work without my OTT Light, tailor’s chalk and long-arm stapler. The OTT Light brings everything into focus for my middle-aged eyes. The tailor’s chalk marks the pattern templates (I make my templates out of quilter’s plastic) onto wool easily and safely. The long-arm stapler is for basting. And believe me, staple basting changed everything for me—no more hand-basting, no more pins, no more glue. Just arrange the design on the background fabric and staple away and start stitching. (And don’t forget a staple remover to pull those staples out after your project is all stitched down.)
It’s been my pleasure to talk to you here on Susan’s blog. If anyone wants to discuss wool appliqué, primitive antiques, or decorating in the modern primitive style, please contact me at email@example.com. Happy stitching!
Below I have added a number of pictures showing Paula's distinctive style. And isn't her description "modern primitive" the best? As you may have read here before, putting a name to your style and otherwise defining it are so important, and Paula has done this in spades. In particular, I love the "Baltimore Album-style" feel to the quilt she has pictured. It inspires me to create my own quilt for my bed, in fact her pieces are the kind that can easily inspire a color scheme or motif for an entire room. The fact that she starts with a neutral background, then adds simple elements using a very limited color palette gives her items a very appealing signature look, and one that I personally appreciate a lot! And I love that she works with many different fabrics, such as velveteen and linen, to put a new twist on primitive. From the looks of the offerings below, I am sensing that it is very, very advantageous to be related to Paula!
Settler's Pride Quilt: 106" x 48" A Maggie Bonamoni pattern. I re-worked this pattern as a "foot-of-the-bed" quilt for our king-sized bed, using 18" squares (and creating the fish weather-vane for the tenth square) and an all-around 6" border. It is all hand-dyed wools and completely hand stitched in creams, greens, tans and grays on blacks.
Brown Vine and Flower Bolster: 36" x 14" Adapted from a Maggie Bonanomi design. This pillow is mixed cream wools (with a little gray and tan for interest) stitched onto hand-dyed nut brown wool. Black threads were used for all applique stitching, but the running stitches outlining the entire design are done in cream crochet thread. Backing is envelope style done in a brown print flannel. The insert is down and feather.
Oh! Happy Day Pillow: 15" square Tiered panel, hand-appliqued wool and free-hand cross-stitched linen panel tied over a pillow sewn from an antique cotton drapery panel filled with buckwheat hulls and lavender.
Cream Roses Pillow: 22" square Adapted from a Karen Kahle hooked rug pattern, mixed cream and green wool on black backgrounds, lots of running stitches for detail and "movement," the backing is envelope style in black and green print flannel with a down and feather pillow insert.
Erin's Pillow: Adapted from a Maggie Bonanomi design. This is a large lumbar pillow done in cream wools on a pine green velveteen panel with grosgrain ties over a satin pillow filled with buckwheat hulls and lavender (and weighs a ton!). It is personalized with a "fancy" E on the urn and the bee (her favorite motif).
Jordan's Bumper Pad (Jordan is my granddaughter-to-be!) Cream and cocoa wools on raspberry pink velveteen.
Mixed Fabric Rust Pillow: 15" pillow Hand-appliqued wool panel sewn with tapestry, velveteen, homespun. This pillow has an envelope back with a separate cotton pillow insert filled with buckwheat hulls and lavender.
Mixed Fabric Gold Pillow: 15" pillow Hand-appliqued wool panel sewn with tapestry, velveteen, homespun. This pillow has an envelope back with a separate cotton pillow insert filled with buckwheat hulls and lavender.
Wedding Pillow: 18" square Adapted from a Blackbird Designs pattern. This pillow was a wedding gift for a special couple. It is chocolate velveteen with wool appliques. Their cream initial is centered on the red heart with green vines and cream flowers. More vining flowers surround the heart and their names and wedding day were back-stitched at the corners. This pillow is filled with buckwheat hulls and lavender and finished with 2 red hearts on the back.