A whole cloth quilt top is made from a single piece of fabric. In the past, until the manufacture of full bed-width material, strips of fabric were seamed together to make up the top for a quilt. A quilt consists of three layers: The top, a middle layer of wadding and a backing. Quilting secures these three layers using running stitch. Whole cloth quilting is often referred to as Durham or North Country quilting.
Fine examples of whole cloth quilting can also be found in Scotland, Wales and Cumbria and Devon. Wholecloth quilts drew upon a vast quilting pattern library often inspired by nature, including feather ; rose; thistle and tulip.
The heyday for whole cloth quilts was the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century. Although a cottage based industry quilting provided a much needed source of income for quilters.
Amy Emms and the revival of quilting
Learning the art of quilting from her mother Amy was at the forefront of the revival of quilting in the 1970s. An enthusiastic teacher and quilter right up until her death at 94. Her book : Amy Emms Story of Durham quilting is a classic book on the art of whole cloth quilting.
Quilt stampers drew out quilting patterns using a blue coloured pencil onto fabric. Quilters would request a particular design on a particular fabric or the would send their own fabric to be marked up.