For my class with APQS Long Arm Certification, one of the projects called for creating a Wholecloth quilt. I have always admired the technique of wholecloth but never fascinated myself creating one. Lo and behold the next assignment called for wholecloth for the course. However, the assignment was vague. It called for a wholecloth that utilized feathers and background fills. Never did it say it needed to be in the traditional method, or symmetrical which is what you commonly see in wholecloth designs.
Part of the reason I do not like wholecloth quilts is honestly from fear. Wholecloth quilts traditionally have perfect feathers and symmetrical designs. I am proud of my quilting skills but the sense of ‘perfection’ stopped me from ever trying this. I decided I can still show the techniques needed but in a style that is much more of my personal style. This elephant proved a great challenge. I began with a 3″ sketch and transferred it to a 30″ quilt. I used Frixon erasable marking pens to draw on the fabric. I drew the main outline of the elephant and the spines of the largest feathers. From this outline I then free motioned the quilt. I began with the center feathers and the elephant outline first. Then went back and added the smaller feathers to fill out the quilt. Finally, ending with the texture of the elephant trunks and the background fills. I worked in this order to try and prevent as many puckers as I could.
There was a small pucker in the elephant so I went back and added more texture to him, creating the wrinkles in the forehead and chin. Later I learned from my instructor that the frixon markings actually returned. I have heard of the pen markings reappearing from being cold but never seen it happen. I live in Florida and mailed it to Iowa with all markings erased. However it is winter in other parts of the country and apparently when it arrived in Iowa, some of the markings returned. This is very unfortunate and will need to experiment with other marking instruments in the future. But in the end I am in love with my elephant and little disappointed I had to donate this quilt. But never fear I will make it again. I have so many ideas of how to utilize these techniques. It’s almost thread painting, really drawing with the long arm. This brings in my art education degrees from learning computer animation, now I get to draw on fabric.