More Info on Wholecloth Design

From some of the comments I received from my last post, I thought it would help to add a bit more information about wholecloth design. I am not an expert in this area and there are lots of different ways to execute a wholecloth, but I can tell you what works for me.

First off, this is another link to Irena's site. Hopefully this one will work. I had copied and pasted the url from her site yesterday and for some reason it isn't working. This link is the url that is listed in her book "Start With a Blank Slate". It's a bit different but gets you to the same place. To see her books, click on "books" on the left sidebar under "Products", then scroll down the page until you see the book you want o see.

I use Mark B Gone water-soluble pens by Dritz to mark my wholecloth quilts. They are readily available at discount and fabric stores as well as local quilt shops. They also wash out easily which I really like.
The designs are almost always drawn or printed on paper then slipped under the fabric and traced with the water-soluble pen. I have a glass-topped end table in my living room that I turn into a lightbox by placing a small lamp underneath. It works great for me. It's larger than a commercial lightbox so it gives me more room to work.

The designs in "Arabesque" were drawn on paper first. I enlarged designs that needed to be enlarged to fit the space and printed them out. Then I drew everything on large sheets of paper to ensure the design would fit properly. Once I had that figured out, I traced the design on the fabric using individual elements and not the large paper design.

For example, the large feather design in the wholecloth below is made from one section of that feather. I enlarged it and printed on an 8 1/2 x11 sheet of paper and rotated it around in a circle underneath the fabric to create the feathered star affect. The feather design surrounding the star and the corner feathers were all drawn directly from the book onto paper and then placed underneath the fabric and traced onto it. These designs didn't need to be resized.

Of course before any of the designs are traced onto the top, the fabric is squared and registration lines are drawn.

Irena Bluhm and Karen McTavish both have great books out on the market that give step-by-step instructions on designing and quilting wholecloth quilts. I'm sure there are more out there by other designers, too. These are the 2 designers that I have purchased books from as well as have taken hands-on classes from and can personally recommend them both.
And, Yes, I have done a lot of wholecloth quilts lately. 2008 was the year for landscape quilts, but 2009 is the year for wholecloth. Things seem to work out that way. I hadn't worked on a wholecloth for a couple of years and then all of a sudden they are coming out of the woodwork! Two of them have been customer quilts - from the same customer - and the other 2 are my own. Arabesque was for show and this last top is for play. It's marked and in my "to do" pile for whenever I have time between customer quilts. It may be months before I get around to actually quilting it much less coloring it.


Thanks for all your tips. I ordered a DVD from Irena. She is adorable and very inspirational. Love your blog.

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