How To Make A Wholecloth Quilt: 5 Easy Tips

Here’s a common problem for us quilters: We often define a quilt of one made of fabric that has been cut, pieced and stitched. We often forget the simple elegance of a wholecloth quilt made on a single piece of fabric with delicate stitching to highlight the beauty of the pattern. When we do see one, we are overwhelmed with its simple elegance but have no idea how to create one for ourselves.

Read on for 5 simple tips on how to make a wholecloth quilt, and discover how easy and fun it is to make one!

whole cloth quilt

Wholecloth quilt via Craftsy member quiltride228655

Be sure to check out Craftsy’s online quilting class Machine Quilting Wholecloth Quilts, taught by world-renowned quilting instructor Cindy Needham, to expand your skills and horizons, as you create stunning wholecloth quilts.

Tip #1 – Start doodling

Get out your sketch pad and start doodling some designs for your wholecloth quilt. It doesn’t have to be to scale or perfect, just give yourself some leeway to get your creative juices flowing. Do you have your favorite free-motion stitches that you love to do? This is the place to showcase your talent!

A great place to find inspiration is to take Leah Day’s class Free Motion Fillers, Vol.2 class. Once you have played around with your pencil and paper, pick out a few designs that you like.

Tip #2 – Size doesn’t matter

What does matter is that you create a wholecloth quilt that you will enjoy making and love the finished quilt. If it is your first one, consider making a small version such as a pillow cover or bed runner. This will allow you to practice the techniques needed to make a wholecloth quilt before you tackle that king size one for your bed. Whether your project is big or small, the steps are the same and the end product is an elegant wholecloth quilt.

Tip #3 – Find your fabric and thread

A wholecloth quilt is done on a solid piece of fabric. Traditionally wholecloth quilts are done on a white or cream background. There is nothing stopping you from choosing a bright pink piece of fabric if that is your favorite color. When it comes to thread, you will need plenty depending on the size of your wholecloth quilt.

A good rule of thumb is to have your bobbin thread match the thread on the top of your quilt, so if you do have some little tension issues they are more inconspicuous.

Your thread choice can be one that blends into the fabric allowing your shapes to be the focus on your wholecloth quilt, or use a thread that is the opposite color of your fabric  on the color wheel. This will not only highlight your designs but your wonderful quilting as well.

Pink whole cloth quilt

 Wholecloth quilt sample via Craftsy member Laughing Lizzie

Tip #4 – Map out your design

Wash your fabric to get rid of any sizing issues and square it up. Press thoroughly and some quilters like to use a little starch on it to keep the fabric crisp when quilting. Mark your quilt with your design using your favorite marking tool. Check out this Craftsy blog post on marking tools to help you decide what works best for you.

Once your quilt is marked, stand back and see if it is pleasing to the eye. Correct or add any other designs and details where necessary.

First whole cloth quilt

First wholecloth quilt via Craftsy member gritkovac977538

Tip #5 – Ready, set, quilt.

Before you set needle to fabric, take some scraps and practice the specific designs you will be doing on your wholecloth quilt, so when it comes time to do it on the real quilt you will be a pro. When you are ready to start quilting your wholecloth quilt, start in the middle and work your way out. Whenever possible try and do patterns that are repeating at one time, before you move onto another pattern, .

Have you made a wholecloth quilt before? If not, are you planning on making one?

Create your own wholecloth treasure

Wholecloth quilts

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32 Comments

Pat Lento Newtz

Is it “kosher” to do a whole cloth in variegated thread? I’ve made 2 whole cloth quilts the “traditional” way but would try to do my 3rd one with the variegated colors. Any opinions or advice????

Reply
margaret

I have done 2 cot quilts with variegated thread one blue one lemon and bound each one with the same colour. They look fabulous. I have tried to sell them but no luck.

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Deanna Miller

Never ask that question. A quilter is an artist. Create what you love and love what you create.

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Pat Lento Newtz

Is it “kosher” to do a whole cloth in variegated thread? I’ve made 2 whole cloth quilts the “traditional” way but would try to do my 3rd one with the variegated colors. Any opinions or advice????

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Carrie B

I think it could be quite lovely. It could lend visual movement to a curving, floral inspired pattern. Never be affraid to follow your muse! Fail or succeed, there is always a lesson learned to use on your next project. Share your creation with us!

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Pat Lento Newtz

Is it “kosher” to do a whole cloth in variegated thread? I’ve made 2 whole cloth quilts the “traditional” way but would try to do my 3rd one with the variegated colors. Any opinions or advice????

Reply
Mary

Maybe try the variegated thread out on a smaller project first like a table runner or wall hanging size. If you like the effect then use it on a larger quilt.

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CatinHiding

I think it would be beautiful…post photos when done! I’M trying to muster the courage to do the one color first!

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Sue Kaufman

I am nervous about variegated thread simply because a pattern using line as its design element needs to be fairly uninterrupted to complete the pattern so it makes sense. I know the odds of using black and white might be small, but if your image comes in and out of focus because of value changes from variegation it might spoil the effect you hope for. Its just precautionary though because in these ‘modern’ days anything goes…as long as the outcome is what you hoped for. Have fun!

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Deb Cavanaugh

I took Design It Quilt It here on Craftsy. I had always wanted to do a whole cloth and there was a section on doing them. It must have been a popular section, since then Cindy Needham has done a whole class on wholecloths. I just didn’t know where to start and Cindy broke it down. They are now my favorite quilt to make.

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Jackie W.

Good for you Deb! That is wonderful when a teacher can make it understandable!

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Loyanne Shinsky

I am currently working a wholecloth quilt, but doing it by hand quilting with a hoop.. I used colored sewing thread for the flowers and leaves. When I wash it to remove the pattern, hopefully it will be the light coloration. Taking awhile but enjoying this and I will probably do another.

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Kristina

I was wondering about doing it by hand. It seems everyone is quilting by machine these days or sending their quilts out to be done, again by machine. I like the imperfection of hand-quilting myself. How is yours turning out? Doing it with a hoop, are you doing it from the center out? I’ve only ever quilted on a big frame and have no experience quilting with a hoop.

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Sharon Hicks

Check out the facebook group called Celebrate Hand Quilting. There are over 10,000 members who love to quilt by hand. They have been an amazing source of knowledge and inspiration to me as I learn to hand quilt.

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Jo le Cheminant

Check out timquilts by Tim Latimer. He does some amazing work with coloured thread and variegated thread.

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Jane Sterry

It would be fun to try this ! I do a lot of machine quilting and really like the variegated thread. I have never seen a whole cloth quilt done this way so make sure you post it .

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Barbara

When you design a quilt, anything is kosher. You are the designer. It’s your quilt. Do what pleases you.

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joanne kiser

the ulltmate in quilting…. as I am a hand quilter would not consider doing one by machine…machine quilters that can do one well you have my respect

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Sheila

When you quilt it on a long arm, do you still start in the middle? If you do, then do you baste the whole quilt first?

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Susan Williams

I belong to a senior center quilting group (not Bee), and we do hand quilting. Is it feasible to hand quilt a whole cloth quilt? Need feed-back quickly, as my turn is coming up! Many thanks.

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Patricia

Does anyone know what kind of material you should use. Any specific type of fabric???

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Anna griffin

i am doing a whole cloth wall hanging by hand natural Cotton and kaki color thread it beginning to look beatuitiful .i got mine on line and it also wash out stencil print . 40×40. It had top backing and batting for 45.00.for 30 dollars more they will put together and baste stitching to hold in place ,ready to do.

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Barbara

Sounds wonderful. Do you mind sharing your source. A whole cloth quilt by hand is on my bucket list. Thanks bunches!

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Penny Fitzgerald

I am new to blogging, but not to whole cloth. After years of landscape quilting, I started doing whole cloth. Now my favorite. The fabric you want to use should be soft and strong enough to create the hills and valleys that your stitches make. Some people call this lights and shadows. I find batiks are too “hard”. I am doing my second silk and it is delicious to sew. Variegated thread might interrupt the flow, if the variegation is too great. Think the dark part of the thread might end up on a hill and the light part in a valley. I sew with a pretty contrasting thread, as I want my stitches to show. Then a neutral for all the back ground squiggles. Hope this helps. Enjoy the journey!

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Melissa Dulgar

I have just completed my 6th whole cloth quilt, all done by hand with a hoop. The last is king size and took almost 2 years to do. I am thrilled with the finished product!! All of my tops were marked by Amish women. All are different designs. All are white with white thread. (I have seen one that was a forest design with the trees stitched in brown, flowers in various colors, etc. It was very pretty.). I sandwich and baste all layers together very carefully. When you put it in the hoop you must be very sure there are no wrinkles top or bottom. Always start in the middle and gradually work your way out. Also, I use a very high loft poly batting because that really makes the design pop out. I am anxious to start my next whole cloth but must first finish hand quilting a Dresden Plate top found in my grandmother’s attic. It was made in the 1920’s or 1930’s from feed sacks and is in perfect condition. I’m a little nervous about doing it!

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Jackie White

Oh that is so exciting, a vintage quilt… you have so much patience in your quilting! Good luck!

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Shirley Denison

Hi Melissa,
I would love to know how to order a whole cloth quilt marked by the Amish women. What was the quality of the fabric like? Do you get a choice of design?
Thanks,
Shirley Denison

Reply

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