Skip to main content

New Project: Silk Whole Cloth Quilt

Butterflies, Shamrocks, Hummingbirds and Gardenias

Having undergone many rethinks, redraws and reworkings over the last 3 or 4 years, the shamrocks, hummingbirds, butterflies and gardenias have finally found a way to play together on this quilt. Back in 2013 I started experimenting with some ideas on the machine, but then the project got shelved for a few years.  Because the quilt is for both of us, I asked my husband to participate in the design layout. For the last few months it has passed back and forth from my table to his computer and finally, we have come up with something that we can both be happy with. The quilt is a silk whole cloth, 100" x 100" (20" drop on three sides), with the central design layout of 60" x 80" covering the mattress of a queen size bed and will be machine quilted. (More on the layout in a future post).

The inspiration for the design started with a ceramic butterfly that we have had since we were married. (A photo of it is in the link above). She's a bit of an awkward, asymmetrical little thing, so I took some liberties with my interpretation. I hope she doesn't mind too much!

Gridded vellum is great to work on because it can withstand a lot of erasing and redrawing. Below is a progression of the butterfly as it developed.

First take on an upper wing ....,

... and lower wing.

Final results on the wings.

Completed pencil drawn butterfly.

Below are the options of dupioni silks for this quilt. The main body of the quilt will be the teal"ish" colour of the little sample scrap on the top of the pile. This had to be ordered in at a local silk shop in town and has not yet arrived. From the other colours in the pile, I may choose one of the "coppery"/gold"ish" fabrics to applique tiny morsels of accent into the pattern. Verdict's not in on that one yet. Some of the fabric will be used as my practise pieces which, if successful, will be used as pillow coverings.

Next week, I hope to trace the butterfly onto one of these fabrics for a trial run of materials, battings and threads.

My completed drawing of the butterfly. As you can see, I still left her pretty asymmetrical.

Let the fraying begin!


  1. Wow! I love that you are both thinking big. I have sometimes thought that a silk whole cloth quilt would be amazing, now I will get to see it come to life!

    Are you going to quilt it in sections, or in one piece? I'm very interested to see it come together!

    1. Hi Monica. I have to admit, that a silk quilt of this size is somewhat intimidating, and I'm not finding a whole lot of resource info about whole cloth silk quilts, like is it necessary to line with a stabilizer like you would if piecing silk. One way or another, I'm committed and I'm going to give it a go.

      As far as quilting goes, I'm going to divide the batting into 3 panels, adding it first to the center, quilting that area, then adding to each side, one at a time. I have done a previous large quilt that way and was quite happy with the results; there were no visible division lines after all the quilting was done.

  2. Love your butterfly! I am curious . . how large will the actual butterfly be on the quilt? lynnstck(at)

    1. Hi Lynne. The butterfly is about 22" wing tip to wing tip and 15" in height and will float onto the quilt from the side.

  3. Very beautiful, and will be very excited to see your next steps. I love the choice of colours!

    1. Thanks Jane. The "tealish" colour has followed us around for many years. We had thought of painting a wall in that colour, but decided that maybe a quilt would be sufficient.

  4. Very beautiful, and will be very excited to see your next steps. I love the choice of colours!

  5. Love your design! This will be an heirloom with such special memories for you and your husband.

    1. Thanks Sue. You are right, this will become a once in a life time kind of quilt for my husband and me, particularly because we are working on it together. (And, we're even enjoying the process:)

  6. Fantastic. Love the fabric. It's beautiful. And your design is exquisite. Love to watch you design!

    1. Thanks so much AC. Since it's already been so many years in the planning stages, I'm not going to rush the process. I really want to enjoy this one.

  7. Oh my goodness, this is going to be exquisite: I love the choices you have made so far and your drawings.

    1. Thanks so much. Using silk for such a large project has me a little nervous, but I'm anxious to give it a go.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Blocking and Squaring Boutis

The door of her cage has been opened. She is free to fly off and find her destiny.

After many months of hand stitching and then many more months of cording, my little "calibri" is ready to set off on her own. As this was my first attempt at designing so large a boutis piece, it has been a bit of a learning curve. All of the tight swirls, curls and circles are a great deal more difficult and time consuming to cord then are the longer more gentle channels. Maintaining an even tension is absolutely necessary throughout the process, so patience comes in very handy when doing the cording.

Once all of the stitching and cording is complete, the boutis must be washed and squared up. After it is soaked overnight in a basin of water with a mild detergent, it gets rinsed gently in several clear washes, then rolled in a towel to remove the excess water. 

The final step is the blocking process. There are a number of ways to block a boutis piece, but I have found that the easiest metho…

Amish Hand Quilting in France with Esther Miller

Esther Miller, was born into an Amish family in the U.S., and now lives in Germany where she has for many years taught the techniques and methods of Amish hand quilting to anyone interested in learning these skills. As a child, she would closely watch as the women of her community worked together on a quilt, and eventually she was rewarded with a needle of her own and encouraged to join the group. Through the years, she has mastered these skills and techniques and now generously shares them with anyone who has a genuine desire to learn.

Last week, at the "European Meeting of Patchwork" in Ste. Marie-aux-Mines, in Alsace France,, I had the privilege of taking a 2 day workshop with Esther. The Amish quilting method requires a free-standing simple wooden frame upon which the 3 layers of the quilt have been stretched. To accomodate the 18 women in the class, Esther set up 3 quilt frames, with 6 students at each frame. Because the quilt is on a large, unm…

Amazing Applique by Yoko Saito

The quilt exposition in Nantes "Pour L'amour du Fil" was filled with a number of highlights. Certainly one of the more memorable experiences was seeing the works of Yoko Saito in person.
"Elegant" is the word that best describes Yoko Saito's quilts. Although her palette is neutral, the lights and darks play very well together to create a perfect balance to the quilt. To say that the applique is amazing is an understatement. The perfectly formed 1/4" circles and the tiny leaves and stems are inspirational. And of course, the hand quilting is perfect. For the final touch, she uses embroidery as adornment in much the same way that the perfect pair of earrings complete the look of the little black dress. The opportunity to see her quilts in person has been truly inspirational.

The photos in order:
- Yoko Saito in her booth on the floor of the show
- "Pointsettia" - by Yoko Saito
- "Spring of Sweden" close -up - by Yoko Saito