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Wholecloth Quilts: a beginner project, part 1

Many of you weren't around for the early days of Penelope Handmade, but I started out making wholecloth baby quilts with a coordinating children's book. I truly can't describe how delightful this was. I had a friend who came over each week to eat dinner and just jump into whatever we had going on (a gift of gifts!!!), and she also happened to be an elementary school teacher. Our shared love of children's books ran *deep* and I can't count the hours we spent searching for fabrics to go with books, or books to go with fabrics.

I got the same question a lot as I made these: which came first? the book or the fabrics? :) And honestly, it was never the same. Sometimes I'd find children's books that just begged to be read with a cozy quilt. Sometimes it was the most adorable fabric line that released and then I was on the hunt for the right book to go with it. Honestly, both directions were so fun.  

Then I started making custom quilt and book combos, and many times that did begin with a beloved children's book. That was such a fun challenge as I oftentimes was face with a book I wasn't as familiar with and it would take a while to find the right fabrics to match. 

But for me, quilts and books are *such* a natural combination! I'm rarely with one and not the other when I'm relaxing. The combo also makes such a great gift. A wholecloth quilt is so much faster to pull together, and for people who don't know a ton about quilts, is equally appreciated as a pieced quilt might be. ;) I usually just used a yard for both the front and back, and a half yard of binding, to create a 36"x 42" quilt. Really such a good baby size blanket. 

But then for my kids who were a bit older, I decided to bump it up to 1.5 yds for the front and back, creating a 44"x 54" lap quilt, and I think I'm an even bigger fan of this. I can't tell you how many times I get asked to make baby quilts with the request that it "be something they can grow into." And this size lap quilt is perfect for that. It would be great for travel even for adults, great for growing kids, and a manageable size for beginner quilters.  

Speaking of beginner quilters, I also love wholecloth quilts for a first quilt project. There are so many steps to quilting, from choosing fabrics to cutting to piecing the top to's just a lot for someone trying to learn! But a wholecloth quilt eliminates a few of those steps and helps you focus on these:

  • choosing fabrics (and you only have to choose 3 at the most!)
  • basting
  • quilting
  • binding

That's it! If you have someone learning to quilt, encourage them to start with this! It's such a satisfying and simple project and so easy to gift! Throw a book in there for young or old and you're ready to go! :) 


Wholecloth Quilt


  • 1.5 yds for front
  • 1.5 yds for back
  • 0.5 yds for binding (cut into five or six 2.5" strips)
  • 50"x 60" piece of batting
  • pins or basting spray
  • ruler
  • marking pen/hera marker


  1. Press your front and back fabrics as needed to be sure there aren't any wrinkles. 
  2. Layer your pieces: backing (wrong side up), batting, front (right side up). Pin or spray baste. (here's a good post/video if you need more tips!)
  3. Mark your quilting lines using your ruler and pen/marker. 
  4. Quilt. (I like to increase my stitch length when I quilt to give it a bit of a noticeable finish)
  5. Trim your quilt and batting.
  6. Prepare your binding. (here's a great post for all the info you might need)
  7. Sew your binding to your quilt and finish! 

As I'm writing these steps, I'm realizing it would be good to break down each of these steps to their own blog post! So let's consider this Part One of I'm not sure how many. :)