The Free Motion Quilting Project: Super Quick Wholecloth???

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Super Quick Wholecloth???

After an afternoon and evening of totally chill relaxing in which I read a whole silly book and drank half a bottle of champagne, I'm feeling much, much better!

The Christmas Crazies really can get you down, so today I'm planning to chill out again and get back to finishing my Winter Wonderland quilt.

But before I sneak off to the machine, I wanted to share this new project with you:


Don't shrink away in fear and terror. "Wholecloth" is actually NOT synonymous with "super hard, psycho quilt" and even though most quilters never attempt a wholecloth in their whole quilting lifetime, I'm on a mission to change that.

free motion quilting | Leah DayYou see, while working on my first Super Quick Quilt, I realized that I could have saved a huge amount of time on the piecing part of that quilt.

The piecing and cutting really did take the best part of a whole day. If you were really on a time crunch, you might not have a whole day to devote just to getting the top together.

So that's where a wholecloth is so wonderful!

Instead of piecing 50+ different seams to get the top together, what if you could instead piece just 1 super long seam???

Or even better, NO SEAMS AT ALL. What if you could literally wash, square your fabric, then baste your quilt?

Sound too good to be true?

I'm feeling a bit like the little devil on your shoulder whispering evil thoughts into your mind.
"Wholecloth is fun...wholecloth is easy...."

Ha! But I know the next biggest reservation most quilters will come up with:

What about the quilting design?!

Wholecloths are typically a white monstrosity of elaborate quilting designs and puffy trapunto motifs. How in the world could quilting something like that be Super Quick?

Here's where the fun begins!

Instead of picking a plain, boring, WHITE wholecloth fabric (*yawn*), instead pick the biggest, boldest, wildest fabric print you've ever seen!

Here's what I picked up yesterday while fabric shopping:

free motion quilting | Leah Day
To quilt this, I'm going to quilt the outline of each flower shape. It's super simple, super easy, and this wholecloth will easily be finished in 1 day.

The best part about this quilting method is that the focus is on the fabric.

I really love this big Michael Miller print. If I cut it all up, chances are I'd lose a lot of the impact of the fabric design.

By leaving it all in one piece, the focus is kept on the fabric!

If you have fabric in your sash that's just too pretty to cut, consider making a wholecloth out of it.

Here are some more photos of fabrics from my stash I've been resistant to cut. Some of them have literally been in my stash for 3 years or longer!free motion quilting | Leah Day
free motion quilting | Leah Day

free motion quilting | Leah Dayfree motion quilting | Leah Day

free motion quilting | Leah Day

free motion quilting | Leah Day

I hope this inspires you to look at wholecloth quilts in a slightly different way, and maybe even try one in 2010!

Let's go quilt!

Leah Day


  1. Oh what a brilliant idea. I am sure glad that I am a follower as I never would have thought of this. I guess this is what blogging is all about. Thanks for the tip and also a great big thank you for all your free motion quilting tutorials. Love them all.

  2. Sounds like the perfect way to chill and get rid of some of those Christmas Crazies! I like your Wholecloth quilt fabrics and ideas, but I did have to laugh when I read "3 years or longer". I've got fabric that is 25+ years old, and was not purchased as vintage fabric! But, you've made me realize that one piece in particular will make a stunning wholecloth quilt! Thank you and Merry Unperfect Christmas!

  3. Ah Leah - yet again you challenge us and make us look at 'everything' differiently - thank you.
    Please have a great Christmas break with your family and we will all, no doubt, look forward to seeing what you inspire and challenge us with next year.

  4. never thought about quilting about the design on a fabric for wholecloth before. My mom did sometimes find sheets that looked like quilts and she'd put them into the frame and quilt around them (by hand) and then gift to people...

    by the way seeing your other fabrics in your stash reminds me I have some of that same Ronald McDonald!!! Eeek! and that I need to get to making my 2.5 year old twins their own "I-Spy" quilts for the coming new year...

    Merry Christmas Leah! :) I can't wait to open my gift from my husband who did all his shopping from your online store :)

  5. Oh, YES!!!
    What a *brilliant!* idea!!

    This is exactly what I needed to hear!... solves some problems I have with yummy fabrics, just too, too beautiful to cut up... been searching for the right piecing pattern idea...
    **Thank you!!**
    (The best ideas are always so simple!... like "why didn't I think of that??!")
    Patricia T.

  6. Wow - sounds almost like cheating but NOT REALLY! You could even do a 42" x 60" in the middle then a wide boarder and bind it up!

    And for someone like me learning to free motion, following the pattern in the fabric is great!

    Thanks for the inspiration!
    WendyB @

  7. Whole cloth and add a few appliqued just to jazz it up... Quick easy fantastic to show off those great designer fabrics!!! Thanks for the encouragement! Great ideas!!! Merry Christmas and happy new year!!!!

  8. I love that idea! Would you use the designed fabric on the back and the solid fabric as the "top" of the wholecloth?

  9. Irish Kathi - It's really up to you.

    I would probably have the fabric I love the most (the designed fabric) be the top so I could enjoy the print on my bed.

    If you used a backing fabric that contrasted with your thread color, you could end up with a double sided quilt that could be used whichever way you wanted.

    The sky is the limit with this kind of thing. Just play with it and have fun!

    Let's go quilt,

    Leah Day


Help us create more quilting tutorials! Check out our quilt shop at