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?


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????


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.

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????

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????


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.


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

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!

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.

Jackie W.

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

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.


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.

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.

Jo le Cheminant

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

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 .


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

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


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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