Wholecloth Quilts and Six-Pointed Star Quilting

Wholecloth quilt tutorial on how to domestic machine quilt six pointed star quilting
Often we associate quilts with cutting up several pieces of fabric and sewing them back together to form a design. Compared with wholecloth quilts, we tend to give pieced quilt tops more attention, and forget about the elegant decorative stitching a wholecloth quilt illuminates. 
 
Wholecloth quilts are made of one single piece of fabric on each side of the quilt, a layer of insulation (batting) in between, and secured by decorative stitching. Stitching designs are usually of intricate and repeating patterns such as clamshells, feathers, and floral motifs and shapes. 
   Brief history into wholecloth quilts and examples of 18th to 19th century wholecloth quilts
Examples of 18th-19th century wholecloth quilts  
 
The earliest wholecloth quilts were found in the United States, brought from early Dutch and English settlers in the early seventeenth century. Wholecloth quilts during this period were viewed as a luxury and a symbol of wealth. Fabrics were not easy to come by unless you had money or lived in or near an urban area with access to imported goods. 
 
The following tutorial modernises wholecloth quilts by exploring the use of different coloured threads to accentuate decorative stitching on a wholecloth quilt, and aims to make quilting on a domestic machine more approachable with step-by-step tutorial on how to create a Six-Pointed Star quilting design. 
 
This Six-Pointed Star quilting design was inspired by Jacquie Gering’s Six Set Grid quilting (see below) from WALK 2.0 book.
 
 Example of Jacquie Gering's Six Set Grid Quilting from her WALK 2.0 book

There are several quilting lines from different angles in the Six-Pointed Star quilting design. If you get lost, refer to the diagram below. This is how each grid square should appear when all the quilting is completed.
 
Wholecloth quilt tutorial on how to domestic machine quilt six pointed star quilting guide

WHAT YOU'LL NEED

  • Long quilting ruler, preferably 24" long
  • Heramarker, machine-washable fabric pen or pencil
  • Wholecloth quilt sandwich - preferably spray basted and not pin basted. There are several quilting seams in this design and pins may get in the way
  • Walking-foot or dual feed dog
  • 4 different Aurifil 50wt cotton threads - 2 lighter coloured threads, 2 darker coloured threads

In this tutorial, I used: 

  • Quilt Top: 1½ yards - Windham Fabrics, Artisan Cotton in Peach Turquoise 
  • Quilt Back: 1½ yards - Windham Fabrics, Artisan Cotton in Aqua White 
  • Aurifil 50wt cotton thread - Autumn (6728), Smoke Blue (4644), Very Dark Eggplant (1240) and Red Orange (2245)

Aurifil threads used for wholecloth quilt tutorial on how to domestic machine quilt six pointed star quilting

Left to right: Aurifil 50wt cotton Very Dark Eggplant, Autumn, Red Orange and Autumn

 

DIRECTIONS

  1. Pair a light coloured thread and a dark coloured thread to be shown on each side of the quilt. Pairing a light and dark coloured thread creates contrast.  For this particular tutorial, Autumn (light) and Very Dark Eggplant (dark) threads were a pair, and the second pair was Smoke Blue (light) and Red Orange (dark).
      
    Aurifil threads used for wholecloth quilt tutorial on how to domestic machine quilt six pointed star quilting  
    When it comes to sewing, take extra care to make sure the correct coloured thread is in the bobbin (bottom of the quilt) and top of the quilt. It is important to keep it consistent throughout the project. The trick here is, if you’re using a dark coloured thread on the top, use a dark coloured thread in the bobbin, and vice versa.
     
  2. Starting from the centre of the quilt horizontally and vertically, use a long quilting ruler and mark a square grid.
     
    Alternating light and dark coloured threads on the quilt top, sew on the marked guidelines. 
    Wholecloth quilt tutorial on how to domestic machine quilt six pointed star quilting
  3. Using the square grid as a guide, mark 45 degree diagonal guidelines from one corner to another corner to create an "x" in each square as shown in the diagram. 
      
    Alternating light and dark coloured threads on the quilt top, sew on the marked guidelines.  
    Wholecloth quilt tutorial on how to domestic machine quilt six pointed star quilting 
  4. Starting at the top of the quilt, use two squares from Step 1 as a guide (imagine a rectangle), and mark an “x” by marking a diagonal guideline from one corner to the other corner. By adding these additional quilting guidelines, it will create an equilateral triangle within each square grid.
     
    Alternating light and dark colour threads on the quilt top, sew on the marked guidelines.
    Wholecloth quilt tutorial on how to domestic machine quilt six pointed star quilting
  5. Rotate the quilt with the top of the quilt at the top. Starting from the next row of squares, combine two squares as per Step 4 as a guide (imagine a rectangle), and mark an “x” by marking a diagonal guideline from one corner to the other corner. These additional guidelines will create a second equilateral triangle within each square grid.
     
    Alternating light and dark colour threads on the quilt top, sew on the marked guidelines.  
Wholecloth quilt tutorial on how to domestic machine quilt six pointed star quilting
    Completed Six-Pointed Star quilting should look like this: 
    Wholecloth quilt tutorial on how to domestic machine quilt six pointed star quilting
    Wholecloth quilt tutorial on how to domestic machine quilt six pointed star quilting