A whole-cloth quilt is made out of a backing fabric, a front (or top) fabric, and a layer of batting. The top fabric normally is a high-quality cotton or silk in a solid color, although some whole-cloth quilts may be made from a patterned cloth.
Sounds boring, doesn’t it? But I assure you, whole cloth quilts are anything BUT boring!
The beauty of a whole-cloth quilt is in the quilting stitches and the design that the quilter uses to do the quilting. Whole-cloth quilts are normally very closely quilted, and the intense quilting is 99.9 percent of their beauty. While published patterns for whole-cloth designs exist, it is the very talented quilter who is able to design her own pattern to reflect her skills. Designing the pattern on paper can take weeks, if not months to achieve the desired effect. Once the pattern meets the quilter’s expectations, it will be transferred onto the cloth itself. Quilters usually use a blue washout marker, light (hard) pencil lead, or a sharpened chalk to draw on the fabric. Use of chalk is the easiest to remove once the quilting is completed, however quilting a whole-cloth quilt takes a mammoth amount of time to finish, and by then, most if not all of the chalk may be erased by time.
Decent directions for preparing a whole-cloth quilt may be found at http://www.hgtv.com/handmade/how-to-prep-for-whole-cloth-quilting/index.html .
Below: close-up of whole cloth quilting by Karen McTavish
Whitework Quilting: Creative Techniques for Designing Wholecloth and Adding Trapunto to Your Quilts. See more of Karen’s work at her website: www.designerquilts.com
Whitework Quilting by Karen McTavish, published by On-Word Bound Books, has won the ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Award in its category.