Archive for the ‘doublestencil’ Category

Making Your First Wholecloth Quilt

Judging from the number of inquiries I’ve had re cently about making a wholecloth quilt from a kit, there are a lot of people out there who are thinking about giving it a try but are a little hesitant. They ask questions like – how can I learn to quilt by hand; is making this type of quilt time consuming; how can I be sure the quality is top notch; and how do I go about it in general?

A long time ago, the only thing to do when you were contemplating making a wholecloth quilt was to start from scratch and this meant drafting your own pattern, or buying a paper pattern and using a lightbox to transfer it to the cloth.  So a great deal of time, and trial and error, was invested  before you even started to sandwich the quilt and handquilt it.  The skills required were those of a much more experienced quilter and often women with such skills were approached to help to do this. A few years ago I made a “boutis” style*  quilt on special order which was a whole cloth cranberry and cream toile on one side and plain muslin on the other – I transferred the pattern to the muslin – not without a lot of freewheeling where errors had been made in drafting the original pattern – and the finished quilt was exquisite.

 * boutis   refers to the old french tradition of making reversible wholecloth quilts and quilted clothing using the “indiennes” fabrics so popular from the time of their first importation from India in the 1600’s

Before you go any farther, take a look at this beautiful quilt below and see more pictures and read the story about it here: 

There are many lessons to be learned in this story, not the least of which is that fine quilts are made to be used, loved and become soft and worn, not tucked away safely out of sight. I tell prospective customers that the kits available now in the secondary market are at least twenty and often more than thirty years old and that they were made with pride and care out of 100% North American cotton grown, spun and loomed, in the USA and will only improve with use and washing. Off white and ecru can be washed frequently, and air dried under shelter outside or damp dried in a machine on warm,  or close to a woodstove in winter. They are, if not quite immune to babies and pets, a lot better wearing than brightly coloured quilts which will fade and become dull with repeated washings, while the piecing starts to come apart as the thread used cuts through the softened fabric.

The writer of this account understood that this would be very time consuming but worked in tandem with her mothre who clearly was a skilled handquilter – they finished the job in eleven months but I’m sure  mom had other projects on the go too, and Jana was away at university a lot of the time - I have made full sized quilts of a similar size working at least 5 hours a day in about 6 months, Smaller quilts proportionately take far less time, of course.

She describes pricking her finger constantly in an effort to be certain her needle was passing through all layers  – this is not gdesirable because of staining the quilt and doesn’t have to happen – I quickly grew to understand by ‘feel’ alone if I was going through all layers – if you don’t, no harm done, just use a thimble – you can find them made of pliable leather with a dimpled metal plate where you can push the needle back up through.

Jana describes the opportunity to let her thoughts run free with this type of quilting – I’ve described it as a zen-like feeling where you become relaxed but alert and thoughtful – I find it a welcome change from the constant problem solving of my normal quilt designing – and like to keep one on the go as a companion – a little reward and also to use as a ‘problem-solving’ time – I do my best thinking when relaxing like this!


Above is a basic standard work on quiltmaking which was written by two women who are still going strong today with their own quilting magazine and many fabric lines and quilt patterns on the market. Marianne Fons and Liz Porter wrote this book in the early 1980’s before the technical revolution swept many more traditional skills before it and the knowledge has become nearly lost as to how to cut and mark for piecing, how to handquilt, how to do applique without thehelp of glues, solvents and a sewing machine. A copy of this book is never far from my work table as it contains, as well as basic instruction, loads of tips and ready reckoners to design your own quilt and come up with the right size, and the right colour values.  I have a small supply of this book, long out of print, as I used it in classes, and will sell you a copy for $20USD – these books are very hard to replace, so may only last until my supply is exhausted.

They are in extremely good second hand condition.

PRICE: $20USD + $10USD shipping = $30USD

If you are planning to jump right in to a full queen sized quilt, you will need to buy your backing extra – the full sized kit comes complete with the ready to start quilt top and matching bias binding, but no backing. At the moment, I have two 92×117 100% cotton backings in antique tea dye – this gives the effect of unbleached muslin – and these are extremely rare in the secondary market, coming as they do still sealed from the factory.

PRICE: Doublestencil 100% cotton antique tea dye quilt back 92×117   $75USD + $20USD postage =                                                    $95USD

You will also need a strong glazed thread for handquilting – I’ve pictured my favourite YLI  100% glazed cotton quilting thread which comes in 1000 yard spools – one should be sufficient for a large quilt and will probably do you for two or three smaller quilts. Again, now harder to find since handquilting is a rare pastime today, I can source this thread for you in natural which is a good coice for anything from ecru to creamy white.

PRICE: $12.50 for the 1000 yard spool and no chsrge for postage in a parcel with other purchases.

Finally, if you want the very best quality of quilt batting go for Quilter’s Dream in the Request weight.  it comes in a variety of sizes and by the roll. If you are doing a lot of quilting you can’t beat the price if you buy the roll.  I can either point you in the direction of a good source for this batting in the USA,  or can supply my Canadian buyers who might have trouble sourcing.

I have not used poly batting since 100% cotton became readily available – you can’t beat the feel and drape of the request weight cotton, and you can’t beat the fact that after washing it adds a slightly puckered effect so charming in vintage quilts. More practically, it relaxes out of the packaging very easily and makes sandwiching and pinning or basting a dream. Once you start to quilt you’ll note there is no ‘creeping’ and hence no unpleasant surprises to be straightened out as you go along. And finally this material needles like a dream – you never run up against those funny little nodules you can’t get your needle through! Quilters’ Dream indeed!!



Well, start you engines!!

I suggest to quiltmakers doing their first quilt to start small – choose from any of  the patterns available among the smaller wholecloth kits listed here


Note: I found another Anchors Aweigh to replace the one I have on hold for a customer, so can offer it again.

All these kits come with backing and binding included in the package and you will need to discuss with me how to arrange things so that you can easily cut the binding when the time comes for that step. So – the only other supplies you will need will be batting, pins, needles and a good quilting thread. You’re good to go after you cut off the extra provided for binding.  Check with me – each kit brand is slightly different so I will look at the kit and guide you through mking the binding.

Once you’ve done that, then lay out your quilt top, batting and backing starting with the backing on the bottom  on a large table – your dining table should be great for this or one of those folding banquet tables so many people have. I’ve  even heard of ping pong tables being pressed into service – whatever works for you!

Spread the surfaces evenly together, working out from the middle and smoothing out any bumps and lumps.  When you are happy there are no wrinkles and that there is complete coverage under the quilt top with perhaps a little to spare of both batting and backing - then you can begin at the centre and pin or baste outwards to the edges, continuaslly checking there are no foldovers or bumps on the back and batting. If you find some, unpin or unbaste and start over.

Carefully roll or fold the quilt sandwich and transfer to where you’ll be working  on it. It’s your choice whether you use a frame or not and what kind of frame to use. I have never been happy working in a frame and have used several different kinds, but that is just me – whatever is best for you is best in the long run.

You’re ready to begin! Choose what ever size of ‘betweens’ needles is currently good for you – try buying an assortment package and go with the goal of using a nine or ten needle – you may start larger, I know I did, but you’ll soon want to try the smaller, more flexible ones. I find Piecemakers is my choice – many needle brands offer the same sizes but often you’ll find the thickness of the needle and thus its flexibility varies – Piecemakers seems thin enough to be flexible but I’ve never broken one either. I can help you source these.

START AT THE VERY CENTRE OF THE QUILT _ NOWHERE ELSE!!!    If you do nothing else, follow this instruction carefully. Work everything outwards from there and equally on one side and then the other. If there is a lot of crosshatching involved try to break it up into small segments in terms of working outwards and keep it going that way. Try not to wander far from the centre in any direction.

Keep going steadily even if you feel you’re not making much progress – a little every day will eventually start to look like a lot!! Don’t be tempted to skip out to do the borders, you’ll get lumpy results that way. Just a slow gradual spreading out from the centre.

Once you’ve done the last quilted lines around the periphery of the quilt you’re almost done. One last step – about 3/8 inch out from this ;ast quilting, use a ruler to draw straight lines around each edge and starting at the middle of each side pin carefully through all three layers working from one side to the other of each centre pin until you have all edges carefully pinned. Then following those pinned lines you will sew a largish running stitch completely around the quilt sandwich – this will be your line to pin and machine stitch the binding to the right side - bind the long sides first and then the shorter top and bottom sides, trimming as you complete each edge. Any good quilt text or the ‘Schoolhouse’ section of most quilt magazines will show you how to finish your binding so no rough edges show – you will have made french binding which is simply a double fold binding  which is blindstitched on the back. if there are any of your basting running stitches showing, carefully clip them and pull them out.

I think the above instructions will be enough to get a confident beginner on the way to being an experienced quilter and remember, part of my customer service is always being available to help with troubleshooting and assisting the learning curve.

Best of luck – you can do it!!


I am contemplating putting together a choice of 18 inch blocks complete with thread, pins, needles batting and backing and selling these kits complete with instructions to those of you who feel they need more of an introduction to the skill – let me know if you are interested and we can talk – and maybe start a small group – who knows?


And do sign up to receive  my Nova Scotia Quilts Newsletter on a monthly basis – I’m getting February’s ready to go and as well as a couple of early bird new items before they go up on the website, I’ll be offering special promotions only available to newsletter recipients – this month will feature very special prices on some “orphan” items I have paired up with instructions or patterns from my files – don’t miss it                  


Until next time, keep busy and keep warm – winter is having another kick at the can here today despite what our little Shubenacadie Sam had to say on Groundhog Day!!  Warm hugs from Janet in chilly Hall’s Harbour.


WHOLECLOTH QUILT KITS: wallhanging, crib and throw size


I’ve had several inquiries lately about wholecloth kits, and since I’m doing inventory at the moment I thought I might start posting my entire inventory – I’m checking and some items haven’t made it to a post yet. So here goes – I’m starting with the smaller kits – up to snuggle size 60×60.

First a few words about the quilt kits themselves – all of them were made in the USA before so much manufacturing went offshore. They have been made with the very finest of 100% cotton muslin and are for the most part based on the traditonal quilts found in museum collections and dating to the second and third quarter of the 19th century.

These quilts when finished may look delicate but they wear and wash well and look better with each passing year – I have made several to be used with babies, and know that the quilts are used on the floor, outside and all around the house and babies being babies they are washed frequently.

The next issue with these quilts is getting an adequate picture to show them to advantage – you need the light hitting the quilt at an oblique angle, as at sundown, but so often the pictures on packaging is dark and underexposed. It’s sufficient to say that very few pictures do these lovely quilts any justice at all.  Above is a small quilt I made for a customer and I think as a picture it’s as good as anything I’ve seen, but that is not saying much.

Now on to the vintage quilt kits:

Above is Benartex Feathered Star in the wallhanging version  40×40 in natural, complete with binding and backing.

PRICE: $150USD + $20USD postage = $170USD

SOLD!!!  JUNE 2013



Above is Medallion Star by Spartex’s American Heritage Collection, size 42×42 in antique tea dye – the wallhanging is what is on offer – comes complete with backing and binding.

PRICE: $150USD + $20USD postage = $170USD


Above is National Star by Penn Prints which was another line of Spartex/Doublestencil. I must apologize for the quality of the picture – the quilt top itself is beautiful in ecru and a lovely design – i’ve made this one and it’s lovely! Available in ecru, size approx 40×40 and back and binding in the package too.

PRICE $150USD + $20USD postage = $170USD


Above is “Floral Bouquet”  sized at 40×48, this could be a baby quilt or a wall hanging. Part of the American Heritage Collection, it comes in natural. I can vouch for this one too since I’ve made it up – lovely! 

PRICE: $150USD + $20USD postage = $170USD


Another beauty above – this is a very versatile design and size – carrying a nautical theme with anchors and rope  along with lots of crosshatching this kit measures 40×54 and is in ecru. Great for any  room in the house!

PRICE: $150USD + $20USD postage = $170USD   ON HOLD Jan 30/13


Above is Benartex Floral Fantasy in natural, this kit measures 40×54 and is a lovely design.

PRICE: $150USD + $20USD postage = $170USD



And finally – above is American Heritage The Rising Sun 60×60 lap or snuggle quilt kit in antique tea dye. This is an unusual size  and makes a wonderful buy as it is complete with backing and binding too – all you need to buy are the quilting thread and the batting.

PRICE: $250 USD + $25 USD postage = $275      MARCH 27/13  ON HOLD


If you re interested in any of these lovely kits get in touch with me: and please note that kits are mailed with adequate insurance and are trackable all the way.


NEWSLETTER SIGN UP! join the mailing list for my monthly newsletter and learn about these fascinating quilt kits and recedive first notice of new acquisitions – also I usually have a special offer for subscribers only! Join today! Send me an email and say Sign Me Up!

                                     Until the next time – good night!!!

Smaller Wholecloth Quilt Kits plus a recurring question

It’s Sunday morning here on the east coast of Canada and the leading edges of Irene brought rain last evening and the storm will be starting in earnest later this afternoon. We don’t know yet how severe the weather will be but I’ve run off water in case my pump can’t do it in a power outage and will go pick up some more bread and tinned goods shortly. We had a category 2 come ashore in Halifax a few years ago and as a child living there there I also experienced several pretty significant ones.  All in all though the two nor’easters we weathered last winter did a great deal more damage than most hurricanes do this far north. Watch me have to eat my words! I hope not!

40x54 Anchors Aweigh by Holice Turnbow for Benartex


I’ve been talking to a lot of quilters lately who want to do a wholecloth quilt and I always encourage them to give it a try. I find the activity calming and helpful in getting me centred and more productive and it is certainly conducive to improving handquilting skills.   

If you haven’t tried a wholecloth before, my tip to you is to go for a smaller quilt to start – then you can move on to a larger one later.
The above wholecloth kit is one I sold to a customer recently, and because she lives in an area that has no quilt shop within 75 miles, I also sold her the 100% Quilter’s Dream request weight batting and threw in a high quality spool of YLI off white quilting thread – she only needs a needle and she’s good to go – the smaller kits come complete with matching backing and enough fabric beyond the design to supply binding. If you too have trouble in sourcing Quilter’s Dream at the Request weight, since I have a bolt of it in stock I can supply you, too.
I still have one of these lovley kits left.

40x40 traditional feathered pineapple by Holice Turnbow for Benartex


A classic treasure that I currently have in stock: this feathered pineapple design by Holice Turnbow has been a favourite among wholecloth quiltmakers for 200 years, and again is complete with backing and binding in an eggshell or ecru colour.   


Pennsylvania Folk Art II 43x47 as wallhanging - choice to do applique or just wholecloth
Above is the smaller version of the Doublestencil Pennsylvania Folk Art quilt kit – it is the one hanging on the wall behind the bed – and measures 43×47. I actually have the queen sized one as well. These kits are very versatile, offering you a choice of doing the quilt using the applique pieces provided, or you may choose to use your own fabric to suit your colour scheme, or you may decide to simply do the quilt without applique, thus producing a classic wholecloth quilt.
If you wish to purchase any of the above classic kits, get in touch with me: to put a hold on your choice, as these classic kits are scarce now and increasingly difficult to source.
Now to some tips about these quilts and in particular a response to a recurring query I’ve had lately about removing the coloured inked lines on both wholecloth kits and the classic vintage applique and cross stitch quilt kits that I sell.
Many quilters as they work on these kits tend to become obsessed with the question of whether they will be able to remove the ‘wash-out’ lines  printed on their kits. Some to the point where they start spot treating to see if they can and invariably such spot treating doesn’t work, and leads to more anxiety.
I want to reassure you that once the quilt kit is completed and quilted, and then properly laundered using an oxyclean washing agent all or almost all the lines will disappear on first wash. You MUST not use the coloured thick and gloppy  detergent based products you use for your regular washes.
Set your machine to gentle and do a soak of about 15 minutes first, agitate on gentle for just a few minutes, rinse out twice and then transfer, supporting the weight of the wet quilt in your arms, to the dryer on a warm and gentle cycle ending when the quilt is damp dry – dry on a covered porch or over your shower rail in the bathroom and keep turning and re-folding  the quilt until all portions are completely dry. On one occasion I was able to significantly lighten a blood stain the previous owner had put on the partially finished work and in my experience the blue lines have always come out too.

a small wholecloth quilt completed for a customer


For newbies, I offer a service of support, ideas and tips and I know you will be absolutely enchanted by your experience with wholecloth quilting techniques. Above is a shot I took of a customer’s small wholecloth “American Star” while I was quilting it for her. She was so pleased that she has ordered a queen sized one as well!  

Just think how lovely any of the smaller quilts would look as the christening blanket of that new grandchild!! Also keep in mind that since these quilts are eminently washable, they make the ideal baby quilt and also a lovely quilt to put down on the floor or the ground to protect your sweet baby! These are a very practical luxury!!!  

More vintage applique and cross stitch quilt kits

Seeing old friends back in inventory again is always great, but it’s even better when I find some items I’ve wanted to get hold of for years with little success because they so rarely appear on the secondary market: take a quick peek at what I have in stock and on its way to me


This one above – Cross Stitch American Eagle by Bucilla a double/queen kit is sometimes called Liberty on some packaging. This was a kit developed from a traditional pattern and was presented in time for the US Bicentennial in 1976.

PRICE: $225USD + shipping


Below is a picture of the wonderful vintage PeriLusta thread kit that goes with American Sampler

this beautiful Paragon #01171 double/queen cross stitch kit. I know the picture says it’s a single, but I just keep one picture on file. This kit is harder to find these days too, so I’m happy to have it in stock again.

PRICE: $265 USD includes the thread kit + shipping will be about $15USD


Above is the lovely Whig Rose  cross stitch Paragon kit back in stock – this time in a king sized kit – 108wide by 103 long – this will make a fabulous statement on your bed!

PRICE: $225USD + shipping


Above is “Acorn Harvest” by Bucilla #3218,  size 81×108 another traditional pattern based on 19th century heritage quilts.

PRICE: $200USD + shipping – SOLD Feb16/11


Another lovely vintage cross stitch kit by Bucilla – #2323 “Briar Rose” a double/queen at 90×103

PRICE: $200 USD + shipping   SOLD MARCH 5, 2011


Above another Bucilla #3022 Williamstown a double/queen too, 90×103

PRICE: $200USD + shipping  SOLD Feb16/11


Above is a rare find – this is the rarer version of two  applique kits done by Bucilla – this one is #1587 and is a double

As you can see, the  colours of the appliques are lovely vintage percale

PRICE: $300USD + shipping SOLD Feb16/11


After a bit of a wait, I have managed to replace my Paragon Country Garden #01175, 90×103 a double/queen – this one won’t stay in stock long, judging by my past experience!

PRICE: $225USD + shipping     


This kit is another Paragon cross stitch kit called Renaissance. It is a king size at 108 wide and 103 long. I had never seen this kit before and I’ve been collecting for years!

PRICE: $225USD + shipping  SOLD FEB 16/11


This is also a kit I had depaired of ever finding. Now, granted it came out of package with the front colour picture lost, but it has 4 pages on instructions, thread list and graphs and I think it’s fairly easy to see that it will be striking. It can be worked either in a two colour variation or in the traditional mid 19th century shades of two values of red, two of green and two of yellow. A treasure indeed!

PRICE: $225USD + shipping


And finally – nother that is new to my inventory. I’m thrilled to have this one. This is a Paragon cross stitch kit called “Iris” and is a double. The design and placement of the irises is very reminiscent of an applique pattern in te Mountain Mist Blue Book, and is very 30’s. I’m so tempted to hang on to this one and do it for myself. I need to be realistic though – too many quilts and too little time! Ah well.

PRICE: $225USD + shipping

So long for now – stay warm and safe – it was still  light way after 6PM today – spring is just around the corner.




Today I have acquired three remarkable vintage  Bucilla Applique  quilt kits. Two of them I had not seen before. The third I had only seen once before when I picked up a partial kit a few months ago that was mixed in with several other kits all in a jumble. These are from the same source, have been well and carefully stored and are clean and intact except for one small  exception.

I am waiting for them to ship and delivery should be in a week to 10 days, at which time I will confirm their apparent excellent condition before completing a sale. Contact me to reserve any of them and I will put a hold on them,

I’m really thrilled with these items and can hardly wait to see them!

The first kit is Bucilla Fascination #8602 size 90×103. This kit was featured in “Living for Young Homemakers” magazine. Below is a sample of the fine workmanship on the finished panel – the other panels have all the appliques pinned in place.

This beautiful kit comes complete with thread, embroidery floss and lavender bias binding.

PRICE: $275 USD + $25 USD SHIPPING for a total of $300 USD  

Email me to reserve this kit


Above is part of one of the blocks in Bucilla’s Colonial Chintz #8737  (90×103) which is based  on a Whig Rose design from the mid 1850’s. This vintage kit was featured in “Seventeen” magazine.

Two of the side panels are in progress, some pieces are pinned to the centre panels and the rest are all cut out and neatly sorted into envelopes. Complete with thread, embroidery floss, bias for flower stems  and bias binding to complete the quilt in yellow.

PRICE: $275 USD + $25 USD SHIPPING for a TOTAL of $300 USD

email  at to reserve this lovely kit



The last vintage kit for today is Bucilla  Pansy Garden #8814 (90×103) which is a classic. Again, part of the kit has been completed and the work is exquisite. The rest of the applique pieces are pinned to the unworked panels and I must note a small number may be missing. I can ascertain how many are not in place and matching the solid colour pieces should not be too difficult. I can do this or the purchaser may wish to do it. 

PRICE: $275 USD + $25 USD SHIPPING for a TOTAL of $300USD

Email to reserve this vintage applique kit

That’s all for now, but check back as I have some lovely new cross stitch vintage quilt kits and some new doublestencil and Spartex wholecloth  kits to list later this weekend.


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