Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Wholecloth Quilting - Development of Ideas Part 2

Following on from my last post, launching into part 2 of the development of ideas and how to go about designing your wholecloth. This is about medallion type wholecloth quilts that have a center motif usually surrounded by some background fillers and some borders.

My first introduction to this was through Patsy Thompson who was one of the experts on Quiltshopgal's FMQ challenge in 2012. While I did not directly participate in the challenge I was so inspired by her very simple, yet so effective method. She took a center motif and just went around adding border after border, increasing the width as she went along. I think I stitched this out in a couple of days
I was hooked. Next, I followed Patsy Thompson's style of creating wholecloth quilts which often start with a feather wreath in the center

All I did is add a background filler (in this case micro-stippling) and put some feather motifs in the corner. Very basic to start with, but I was impressed with these initial attempts.

As I went along and gained more experience with wholecloth quilting I started to get more elaborate and learned about some basic rules like:
- add several smaller borders around your center design and fill with simple designs like swirls, ribbons, loops or just lines; experiment with a straight square design or put the borders on the diagonal
- stick to a few selected shapes in your wholecloth
- work with repetition, i.e. have a motif that can also act as corner motif like in the following quilt
- think this through in terms of how much background you have to fill as this can take a long time to fill (i.e. see above...that micro-stipple was an absolute killer)
-  add interest by using grids and if you are really keen, learn how to fill those grids to really make your center design pop
- once the center design is done and you have decided on a background filler around it, add a few more borders, again keeping in mind to repeat already used shapes; you can see in the picture above that I put in a larger 'seed design' to enclose my center, thereby repeating the shape of the cnter motif. I then added some straight 1/4in lines to extend this out a bit and finished it off with a feather border.

This is one way to construct your wholecloth. While the result usually looks quite striking, the process is actually quite simple. In terms of designing this from scratch it depends on how much work you want to put into this and whether or not you enjoy designing. If you do not, you can make use of the many books that are on offer, all of which have a variety of motifs and designs, or find some spectacular motifs on the web for free. Or you can purchase stencils that are designed for wholecloth quilts. Here are some resources that I found useful:
- Quilting Wide Open Spaces by Judi Madsen
- Custom Curves by Karen McTavish
- Mix & Match Quilting Patterns by Helen Squire
- Inside the Lines by Pam Clarke
- The Secrets of Elemental Quilting by Karen McTavish

Some links
Quilting Creations  and
The Stencil Company for stencils and pre-printed wholecloth designs
Forest Quilting for free motifs
Cindy Needham's Craftsy Classes
Patsy Thompson's DVDs (particularly the Feathers DVD range)
Leah Day's Feather and Heart Mini Wholecloth (this is a workshop offered over on Leah Day's website; this was the first wholecloth I ever did and I remember the anxiety this produced just looking at it...however, as it is a mini project it was very achievable and turned out beautifully)
...and many, many more; hopefully this will spark your interest and you might give it a go.

Designing your own motif will take a little bit more time but is very rewarding.



  1. Beautiful wholecloth quilts and great tips for resources. Don't forget Cindy Needham also has a wonderful collection of stencils and ebooks that are also excellent for those interested in wholecloth quilting and more.

  2. I’ve enjoyed seeing your completed whole cloths, they are beautiful. Reading your suggestions and tips makes it sound doable. Thanks for listing possibile resources.


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