Thursday, August 18, 2016

Wholecloth Quilt Challenge with Renee

For a while (okay, pretty much since I started free motion quilting four years ago), I've thought about making a wholecloth quilt. Wholecloth quilts, which use just 1 fabric as a background (hence the term "wholecloth"), traditionally feature a ton of quilting. It's a blank slate. A chance to do anything. Absolutely anything! It's a delicious thought.

Renee (@quiltsnfeathers) and I have been casually chatting about making them for at least six months. We both work on the same domestic machine (Janome Memory Craft 6300) and we love quilting on it. I had mentioned to Renee that I planned to start mine in August, but so far, I've been a little daunted to start such a huge and time-consuming project. She said it was time for us to just DO it, and challenged me officially! Now, we'll both make them at the same time across several months and many states (she's in New Mexico and I'm in New Jersey). 

In order to prepare for this challenge, I made a couple of small wholecloth quilts, starting with this sign for my sewing studio! I've always wanted to make one to celebrate my blog, and I don't know why I waited so long!

I used my own technique of "sketch letter quilting" to quilt the letters (similar to my "Winter is Coming" wall-hanging). It involves using a Hera Marker (which I used pretty much every step of the way on this little quilt) and a whole lot of patience. I recorded a little tutorial on Periscope several months ago that no longer exists; I might have to create another one day! Anyway, this method works well for me and I will DEFINITELY be using it for my larger wholecloth quilt, along with cursive letters.

I based the lettering on my blog logo font, Basic Title Font. When my mom saw the quilt, she said, "It looks a lot like the picture on your blog!" At least that translated well! :) But - look how puffy the quilt was before I quilted it to smithereens with my free motion foot!

Ahhh. Much better. My large wholecloth quilt will have a whole lot of texture! Here, I used Aurifil 2024 (white) to fill in the background with wonky lines.


I used a quick cardboard template to trace orange peels onto the quilt (again mimicking my logo, which was designed by my talented sister Marisa!). Then, I quilted over them a few times and filled them in with several Aurifil sunset-themed threads: 2460 (burgundy), 2250 (red), 2240 (orange), 1133 (light orange), 2140 (dark yellow), 2515 (light pink), 4020 (magenta), 120 (blue purple), 2520 (light purple), 4225 (purple), and 1158 (blue gray). I am really, really pleased with how the orange peels came out! I love them more every time I make them (pieced or quilted).

Okay, so back to the challenge. Traditional wholecloth quilts feature a medallion-like design and lots of intricate quilting. I often imagine lots of feathers. I'm aiming to make a "modern" wholecloth quilt, which will be modern on my own terms. It's not going to be completely symmetrical or medallion like. It's going to use tons of different thread colors and weights. It's going to have lots of "modern" free motion motifs and some of my own made up ones. It will have words (which I'm still deciding on - I should have an update by next month). And the background will be a luminous purple, specifically Free Spirit Designer Solid in Plum, which I bought a few months ago from Hawthorne Threads (did you really expect a different color? Because if I can use one background color, why NOT use purple? :) ). Free Spirit solids have a sheen to them and they wash (and quilt) beautifully - that's why they're my favorite. Just passing along my opinion!

Anyway, Renee and I have agreed to check in on our blogs every month about our progress - check out hers here. We'll be posting in-progress peeks on Instagram, too (I started using the hashtag #wholeclothquiltchallenge this week for a couple of sneak peeks... I'll be back to share two other little projects with you soon). Next month, my goal is to have some of the words done on my large wholecloth quilt and an overall plan to share with you. I'm just not there yet! Good ideas come to those who wait, yes?

So, have you ever thought about making a wholecloth quilt? Have you made one already? I'd love to see it and/or read your tips.

One more picture. My little quilt looks great perched on the sewing room door. It greets me every morning! My happy place, now complete.

 Linking up to TGIFF and Needle and Thread Thursday.


  1. Oh, I love that the two of you are cheering each other on with the whole cloth quilt challenge; that is awesome and perfect! I have just done a few myself (on the smaller mini side) recently and the attraction is huge. I hope you have a lot of fun and success exploring this area. :)

  2. I'm so glad to posted this! My week has been crazy and today is a blur trying to prep for my trip. I'll get a blog post up as soon as I can get the computer back from the kids (watching their stories)

  3. So that's what that sneak peek was that I asked about ;) - can't wait to see the finished quilt.

  4. I love your signature mini quilt! It totally captures your (blog) essence :-) I made a traditional white wholecloth quilt years ago in a guild challenge. It was a good experience and I'd love to try another one, but all my other ideas take precedence. Someday!

  5. Hi Jess! This is fantastic little quilt! Absolutely need a sign for your sewing studio and to keep it with you when you travel for lessons etc. x Teje

  6. Your little Blog quilt is perfect and looks just like you logo! I love it. I'm excited to see your whole cloth, it sounds very interesting and challenging. It's great to have Renee cheering you on!! I've never done a whole cloth, maybe one day!

  7. Cool challenge and I love your logo quilt!

  8. What a great idea...sharing a challenge with a friend! I'm looking forward to watching your progress. Maybe I'll put one on my 'Bucket List'.

  9. I can't wait to see what you two come up with. I can't say that I would ever do a huge wholecloth quilt. My quilting skills still need a little more practice before I even entertain that idea. But, that mini of your blog logo is just darling! THAT is something I can consider putting on my To-Do list. :)

  10. I love it- I can't wait to see your whole cloth!!

  11. Your quilting is absolutely wonderful! I love the letters, they are so crisp and bold. And I love the orange peels! I have a soft spot for them too! :)

  12. I have never made a whole cloth quilt and am looking forward to yours. Your Quilt Habit sign is awesome!

  13. Love your logo mini! I've never made a wholecloth quilt, but it has been on my to-make list for well over 10 years. One of these days I'll be brave enough :) I'm really looking forward to watching you and Renee as you work on your quilts.


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