Do you have a list of quilts that you’d love to make…..one 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!
I have to admit…..it 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.
- 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!
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.
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!
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!!
It just goes to show, there are so many different ways to make a wholecloth quilt.
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.
I have been toying with the idea of a whole cloth but am having trouble figuring out a design. I love the butterflies you did! You are such an inspiration!
I don’t understand. You said one piece of fabric. The quilt is large. Where can I buy such a large piece for a big quilt? Like a queen size quilt.
You can get sateen or solid fabrics up to 110″ wide.
Can you alsojust handquilt a whole cloth quilt??
Yes, definitely! A handquilted wholecloth quilt won the Exemplary Hand Quilting award at the 2017 Minnesota Quilters Show and Conference in Duluth earlier this month. We had a category just for wholecloth quilts.
I bet that was a beautiful exhibit!
Hi Angela. This quilt is beautiful. I am fairly new to the Avante longarm. I have a queen size whole cloth quilt I started with hand quilting. I have the middle done. Do you think it will still look good to finish it on the Avante? I can’t hand quilt any more. I love machine quilting. Thank you for all your videos.
That is a gorgeous! It’s just a wonder, even if it did take 13 years. Let’s see, if I start one now and finish in 13 years, I’ll be 85! If my machine quilting skills were good enough, I’d start one soon. That quilt is simply stellar.
Your quilt is totally awesome!! Very pretty. When marking a whole cloth quilt, what do you do when you mark a design then change your mind on the pattern choice in a particular section? How do you go about changing it?
For this quilt, I only marked the butterfly shape. The rest of it’s freehand. If I did mark it out and change my mind, I would just try to ignore the markings and switch it up with something else…..
I made this quilt from your book with gold metallic thread on a solid black background (which was terrifying) It turned out great! Thanks for the beautiful pattern.
Ohhhhh I would love to see a picture of it, it sounds amazing!!!
Thank you! A wholecloth quilt is also on my ever growing list of quilts to make. I hope to be able to start one very soon. I was thinking glow in the dark thread.
That would be so neat! I haven’t played with glow in the dark thread much, but it sounds so fun!
I used some glow in the dark thread on a quilt that I made for a little girl. It had pictures of Tinkerbell and her friends and I did their wings in the glow in the dark thread. That was 3 or 4 years ago and I am told that they still glow in the dark.
That is so fun!!!!!!!
The quilt is lovely and I commend you for making something that had been on your list for so long. Bringing our dreams to fruition isn’t always possible for one reason or another.
I have a question….is there is reason why you added the binding by machine rather than hand stitching it down?
The butterfly is so beautiful and inspirational. I think it will be one of my goals to just do it. Thank You Angela for your generous sharing of talent.
Both are beautiful. On my bucket list for sometime in the future.
What a beautiful quilt !! Just love it. Thank you for sharing, and all the tips, which will be most useful should I ever attempt such a project. Sheila.x
Your quilt turned out fabulous. I love the flowing look of the butterflies. I hope you have time to make more whole cloth quilts. Great tips for making this type of quilt. What size was your quilt? The black and teal by Christa is also beautiful. It is hard to see the quilting other than the contrasting teal but I am sure it is wonderful. Are the sizes usually determined by the fabric width? Would you recommend using a wide backing size fabric front and back? I don’t have anything on a list other than overcoming fear of my machine and finding time to do more. Thanks for your encouragement!
For the large wholecoth that I started and never finished, I used extra wide sateen fabric. But you could make it any size you want! You could sew pieces of fabric together, but historically they have been made using one piece of fabric.
Oh my gosh, what a gorgeous wholecloth quilt. Thank you for all the great tips too!
I also want to make a whole cloth quilt but much smaller than the lovely one you have made. I’m getting closer to getting at it but I still don’t have the confidence to get it started. One day, and after seeing yours it may even be sooner. Thanks for sharing Angela
Go for it!! Mine is only about a yard of fabric on the front, maybe a little more. Use a matching thread color and just go for it. It really isn’t as hard as I thought it would be!!
Gorgeous! This has to be my all time favorite quilt that you have done! Wow!
Awww thanks so much!
A whole cloth quilt is also on my bucket list. However, I think mine will be much smaller and less intimidating to do than yours. Both yours and Christa’s are beautiful! It’s amazing that they are both the same design since they each have such a different ‘feel’ from each other. Well done!
Aww, the quilts aren’t too large, but starting off with a smaller one is a great idea!
A gorgeous finish. Do you have an idea of how many quilting hours went into it?
AMAZING! Thank you for sharing and your tips.
I love both. Question. Did you use one layer of batting? Or did you use some poly batting and cut it out then use cotton batting?
Great question, I totally forgot to mention the batting. I used two layers of Quilters Dream Puff batting for a faux trapunto effect.
Stunning. I love the black and teal as well. Congrats!
That is awesome, Angela! What an inspiration you are. Thank you for the share. Best of Luck with your new book.
You are such an inspiration to me. I am currently stuck in Mental OFF. Haven’t done a thing on a paid for long arm. It’s now in my extra apartment, which someone talked me into renting to them. Now I have to remodel the garage to put the long arm in. Sigh…..
Oh my goodness, how close do you live to kansas city? I wish you lived close, I’d come and get you started on it! It’s so fun!!!
This quilt is at the top of my list of quilts to make from this book. 🙂 Such a great job by both of you.
I hope you will share a picture of what you end up doing!!!
Angela, it turned out so beautiful!
Regards from Switzerland
Good for you Angela! It looks amazing. I have a wholecloth quilt on my bucket list too!