Do you have a list of quilts that you’d love to make… day? Kind of like a quilting bucket list? Well, there has been one type of quilt on my quilting bucket list for the longest time…a wholecloth quilt.

Just in case you don’t know, a wholecloth quilt is made of a solid piece of fabric and lots (and lots) of quilting. They are exquisite and I have been intending to make one for the longest time. I have planned several out in my head, and even started marking one out. Of course, that’s as far as I got….


Nothing like a big UFO taunting me for years and years. I don’t know why I never started one, I guess I was just afraid that it wouldn’t look as good as it did in my head.

But now, 13 years after I started machine quilting, I can knock it off the list. That’s right, I finally quilted my first whole cloth quilt!

finished whole cloth quilt

I have to admit… took a book deadline to get me going. This quilt is from the book with Christa Watson, “The Ultimate Guide to Machine Quilting” and it was a blast to make.

The pattern consists of a butterfly template in a wedge shape which is rotated to form the center of the quilt. I used a water-soluble marker to mark in the butterfly details….I may be good at free-motion quilting but I’m not that good!

While I am no expert at making wholecloth quilts, here a few tips that I would suggest before starting one.

  1. Pick a high quality fabric.

Since the fabric is the backbone of the quilt, using a quality fabric is key. For my quilt, I used a piece of white sateen fabric. It has an almost shiny appearance and it quilted up beautifully. You could also use Kona Cotton or a voile, whatever you prefer!

whole cloth quilt center
2. Determine the quilt’s focal point.

When it comes to quilting any quilt, not just a wholecloth quilt, it’s important to decide where you want the focus to be.  For this quilt, the center was the most obvious choice. To highlight the area, I used contrasting thread…which was a little scary. Shiny gold thread on white fabric shows every little bobble. But, even though there are imperfections, I love the way they shimmer. In between the gold butterflies, I used a light blue thread. It still contrasts with the white fabric, but not as much as the gold thread.

machine quilting swirls

3. A matching thread color covers a multitude of mistakes.

Since I wanted quilting in the rest of the quilt to “frame” the focal point, and not distract from it, I used a blending thread color. Doing so allows me to quilt a lot of different designs and hides any mistakes. Remember, people will mostly be looking at the focal point, so try to relax when quilting these areas.

4. Have fun with fillers

To give your whole cloth a slightly unexpected look, try using quilting designs in slightly different ways. For instance on this quilt, I used the wishbone design as a filler between the edge of the quilt and the pebbles. It was quick and easy to quilt, but also adds a fun texture to the edge. Remember, you don’t have to use a bunch of “fancy” designs to make a striking whole cloth quilt!

wholecloth quilt

5. Use contrasting quilting designs.

When quilting the butterfly wholecloth quilt, I used contrasting quilting designs. By contrasting designs, I am talking about designs of different shapes and densities. From the less-dense straight lines to the tight pebbles, using contrasting designs allows them to stand out from each other. This is especially important when using a blending thread color.

6. Above all…..get started

Now that I have finally finished a wholecloth quilt, I realize that it wasn’t as hard as I had made it out to be in my mind. So, whether or not you have a plan, the most important thing is to just get started!

A Different Take

As a part of the book, Christa made her own version of the wholecloth quilt…and I have to admit, that I am so in love with how hers turned out. The black fabric is so edgy and the I love the teal thread and binding! Amazing!!

modern whole cloth quilt

It just goes to show, there are so many different ways to make a wholecloth quilt.

Fabric Sale

Want to get started on your own wholecloth quilt? From now until Wednesday, June 1st, I am offering 20% off any fabric purchase (including bundles!) on the online store….just use the code SPRING when checking out.

Happy Quilting!!