Friday, 23 March 2018

Wholecloth Quilting - Your Own Design

Designing your own wholecloth quilt is a lot of fun but also a lot of work. There are several good books that describe the process and/or give you some design ideas , like
- Make Your Own Quilting Designs & Patterns by Judy Woodworth (super excellent resource)
- Create Your Own Dream Feathers by Peggy Holt
- Custom Curves by Karen McTavish
- The Secrets of Elemental Quilting by Karen McTavish

First of all you do need a set of tools...rulers, templates, circles, French Curves, ovals and/or stencils. I should also mention Cindy Needham's Handbooks which I forgot to mention in the last post as the place to go to if you are looking for stencils and design ideas.

So, how do you start? You can use paper to draw 1/4 of your design, flip it over and mirror it. You could then make several copies of the motif and lay them out on the table to have a bit of a look what this will look like. This is a very laborious process that takes a long time! Alterntively you could use mirrors to audition your design (also see You Tube video with Sharon Schambler on how to do this)

I prefer using the computer to design, making use of drawing programs. I have tried Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator and finally ended up buying the Serif Draw 8 program. These are drawing programs that are not geared towards quilting but together with the EQ8 program I usually can make something work for me. I am currently having my eye on the Pre-Design program which is a 'lesser' version of the Art and Stitch program that is especially designed for quilters and embroiderers.

Carla Barrett's blog is an excellent source if you want to further delve into the world of digital wholecloth designing. Carla uses a tablet and Photoshop Elements (I believe). She teaches her method and also offers eclasses. Her blog is full of great inspiration.

Also useful and becoming more and more manageable is the Ipad, particularly when coupled with the Apple Pencil. With the help of some good Apps like Graphic (formerly Idraw), Adobe Draw or Sketch, Adobe Capture and many other Apps to choose from, you can get a fairly decent design to look at.
BTW, also  useful to audition quilting designs! Having a bit of a look what my feather design will look like in the melon shape. This was done on the Graphic App
In terms of process then, you start to doodle...maybe you have seen something that sparked your imagination, you could trace a design or you could use stencils or part of stencils. This is where Cindy Needham's Ultimate Stencil Collection comes into play

When I first got the Ultimate Shape Stencil I was so inspired I designed a range of weird and wonderful designs (see post HERE). I did use one of those designs to develop last years' wholecloth.
With the help of the Ultimate Round Stencil I came up with this center motif
...drawn onto the trusted Ikea paper. I then took this design and imported it into the computer drawing program where I tidied it up and traced it off so that I had a neat and precise copy to play with. I took my design then into the Adobe App on the Ipad and tried different layouts and different arrangements to see what I liked. This is what I settled on

The actual wholecloth turned out a little bit different but this picture gave me a good starting point

Another example of a doodle I did, drawing a quarter of a design...very rudimentary and then duplicating it many times, arranging it into a square.  Here I did four quarters to make up one half of a design
Looks absolutely awful, however how good is this, I can wipe it and come up with a different arrangement. This was just to illustrate the process and to show you that it is possible to do some quite complex designs with the use of the computer or Ipad. If I liked this design, from here I would go and draw the design on paper properly, maybe then importing it into the computer to tidy it up before using it as a design to trace onto the quilt.

Next post I will show you how I traced a motif on the Ipad...need to split the post as this was just getting too lond

See ya'



  1. Total #CreativeGoodness. I love your doodles,they certainly look like they'd make stunning quilts!

  2. I have been wanting to do a wholecloth quilt. I'm so happy to have found you today on Pinterest. Your posts will give me the info I need to get started. Thank you.


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