Monday, March 29, 2010

Delicate Intricacies: The Wholecloth Quilts of Cindy Needham

Cindy Needham is a renowned quilter, designer, writer, and teacher from California whose special interest is creating magnificent patterns on vintage linen (and occasionally on silk, as shown below). Quilting became Cindy's passion when her family was stationed in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia and North Carolina, and she has now been quilting for over 38 years. The first 25 years of her quilting career were dedicated to hand quilting, but for the past 13 years she has focused on machine quilting.

Feathered Crystals

Feathered Crystals is an updated version of a wholecloth quilt, which was one of the earliest forms of quilting in the American colonies. This is not a patchwork, but one single piece of fabric covered with thousands of tiny, amazingly precise stitches, which create the raised pattern of interlocking rings. Our colonial ancestors often created quilted bed coverings from one large piece of woven flax and wool, known as "linsey-woolsy". However, Cindy's quilting, above, was done on a whole piece of green dupioni silk. We're dazzled by the design and by the exquisite luminescence of the silk. You can read about the creation of this quilt on Cindy's blog, here and here.

"Feathered Crystals" was recently displayed at the nationally renowned Empty Spools Seminars at Asilomar, California, where Cindy taught Stepping Stones to Beautiful Quilting. To read about the Asilomar experience and see some wonderful photos of the beach - and the workshop - visit Cindy's blog. Also check out the schedule of Cindy's popular classes and upcoming retreats.

Quilting Stencils

For her fellow quilters, Cindy has created an extensive line of original quilting patterns for stencils (these are copyrighted). The patterns range from simple to ornate, and small to very large (very handy!) Her many charming designs include medallions, feathers, fans, circles, butterflies, and other motifs. To view the complete line, see Quilting Creations. We're showing a few of them, above: Butterfly Wreath, Whirligig, Feather & Lines Circles.

Wholecloth Linen Quilts

Cindy is also the author of the book, Wholecloth Linen Quilts: Patterns and Designs, which is available from the American Quilters Society. You can ogle the wholecloth quilts here, and read about designing and creating them. The pieces are often in miniature sizes and are frequently embellished with small pearls, transforming the quilts into bejeweled treasures.

Images are courtesy of Cindy Needham. For more information and to view a gallery of her work, please visit Cindy's website. For information on next year's Empty Spools Seminars, see the 2011 schedule here.


  1. Is the wholecloth Starfish Quilt Pattern in this book? If not, where can I find it please?

  2. Hi Margy, we're not sure about the Starfish pattern you are interested in but I am sure that Cindy Needham will help if it is one of her designs. Here is her email:

  3. Im planning to start some are Quilting projects soon .whole cloth quilts being one. .
    I will look out for your book to guide me on my way. .


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