Sunday 25 February 2018

Wholecloth Quilting - Where To Start

Where do you start.

I wrote a post last year on what goes into the preparation for a Wholecloth. Currently thinking of doing a number of posts on the topic of wholecloth quilts to demystify the process.

First and foremost is planning. I spend an extraordinary amount of time on planning these projects given that I am going to spend the next few months on this one project. Once it’s basted and you are stitching there is very little you can do to alter your design or re-draw sections. Trust me, I becomes incredibly messy, is very unlikely to work and you will be in a world of pain.

Personally I like to see a picture of the Wholecloth before I start. This can be achieved by drawing it out on paper (or sections of it) or using the computer. I tend to use EQ8 or my Serif Drawing program. No consistency in which I use, whatever suits the design I will use. For the current Wholecloth I used the EQ8 program, as I am using one of their stencils. I printed the stencil out and then put it in the shape, photographed it and imported this back into the EQ8 program to make into a block. This is how I started off to just have a bit of a look at the overall picture. As I liked the design I then found the shape I was looking for in the block library and placed my stencil into it.  Then I just explored different settings and arrangements until I liked the look of it.

I did a lot of playing around with this...different sizes, different arrangements and different colour ways (EQ8 has a whole range of Aurifil thread colours in their thread library). Love the EQ8 program as it is fairly easy to move things around (although I am still getting used to the update) and get a good look at the end product. In addition I find it very useful in looking at dimensions, i.e. how big should my motif be in this arrangement. If you make it too big it is going to look too busy and crowded, if too small it is going to create a problem in terms of the surrounding open space.

Alternatively, if you had a motif that you liked and wanted to put it into a cathedral window shape, you could draw out your cathedral window and trace your motif into it or, even easier... can use Cindy Needham's Ultimate Shape stencils which makes that job superfast. All you do is mark your shape and off you go...

My first attempts at this from last year with the feathers oriented in different ways. I made some photocopies of this initially and cut out the squares to see what I liked better

After all of this I started to stitch out the motif and surrounding plumes to get a bit of a sense how this would work, i.e. will I work freehand, use rulers, trace the motif? Also trying different threads and  batting, getting a bit of a feeling for the design. Stitched this out about four times and noticed that I needed to do a little bit more work on aligning the motif. Went back to the EQ8 program and edited the motif, drawing in some diagonal lines for alignment in the center. Also adjusted the size of the motif just by a tad to allow for a bit more space around the curve.
As I am stitching this on very dark grey (charcoal) fabric, I am thinking that I will only use minimal marking as it is much harder to mark with the white sewline chalk pencils. Decided to use Cindy Needham’s Shape Stencil to get the framework down, then use rulers to stitch this out. The curve of my ruler does not magically correspond with the Ultimate Shape, however this does not matter as the Ultimate Shape will give me the points to align my ruler. The curvature of my ruler will be slightly bigger than the Ultimate Shape curvature (hence I had to do some adjusting of the size of the motif in EQ8). The motif will most likely be pounced using Golden Threads paper.
The feathers....unsure...don’t feel like marking them in, but will need to think about consistency. Probably will do some semi-marking, i.e. just lightly draw in the tops, so I can follow this and have the same number of plumes on each side.

Next step is to draw this out on my trusted IKEA paper (love that paper roll) using Cindy Needham’s stencil to align the motif, draw in the plumes...
You can see that my ruler is slightly more curved than the shape. This is only a rough I am not tracing off this, this is good enough to give me an idea of how this will work. Yesterday then I tried out a number of different markers, but decided in the end to stick with the one I know...the Sewline Chalk pencil. All I need to do now is to draw in the shape across the quilt top and I am ready to go. So I thought 😆 Discovered today that my fabric width is not wide enough, hence had to extend the center by adding on individual borders. Not what I had in mind, but so be it. Given that this piece will have a very distinct border, that all fits.

This will be a busy Wholecloth with lots of individual stops and starts, so a busy backing fabric is in order.

...and this is only the beginning! If you are thinking this is a bit obsessive, you are absolutely right. However, I have learnt my lesson of being unprepared in the midst of months and months of stitching when you arrive at the point of...hmmm, that does not work...not a good feeling, let me tell you. Thinking about writing a bit of a series on Wholecloth quilting. Let me know if you are interested and/or have particular questions about the topic. Not that I am an expert, but I obviously have done a lot of learning over the last few years and thought it might be helpful to share some of the resources or point people in the right direction.



  1. Yes I’m definitely interested in learn more. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Yes I’m interested too. I’d like to do this as cheaply as possible


Hi...thanks for stopping by and commenting. Very much appreciated! I will endeavour to answer all comments via email. Please check that you are not a no-reply blogger as there is no way of responding to you (other than by reply on the blog). If you need help with this issue, please head for Tutorials for a link on how to fix this issue.

Popular Posts