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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.


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