By Val Bourque

Sometimes we find the most amazing quilters right in our own backyards.  One such quilt artisan is Cindy Needham of Chico, California. Cindy Needham is an award-winning quilter, author, and National Educator for Superior Threads.  Quilt guilds around Northern California invite Cindy to share her unique expertise on quilting, threads, tips & techniques.  Cindy created the unique and beautiful method of turning old vintage linens into Wholecloth Quilts.

Cindy developed the vintage Wholecloth quilting by accident and what a happy accident for us. While wanting to save an older vintage tablecloth, she wondered what would happen is she ‘quilted’ it to strengthen the frail linen. Using her artistic design and imaginative thread work Cindy created an artful masterpiece. She was hooked. She began finding old linens, some even stained but by using the correct threadwork, pattern and design, they turned out beautiful and created another heirloom for yet another generation.  Her Workbook, Wholecloth Quilts, explains the techniques she developed to mark a vintage linen and choose the type of thread for various effects.

Cindy is an avid quilter using her Juki sewing machine. She shares many easy techniques developed after many hours of struggles. She imparts many tips in her Heirloom Feathers & Border class which is a favorite with quilt guilds. For those of us who have not experienced selecting and marking our quilts, Cindy developed tools to help us overcome our fears.  Her stencils are easy to use. Like many of us, we struggle with the bulk of material, how to set out the correct design and of course quilting without folds. Cindy explains that like most things it’s practice, practice, practice.  However, there are some tips she learned along the way and as an educator Cindy imparts those time saving techniques to us in her workshops.

Along with her beautiful quilt techniques, Cindy is also a recognized thread expert.  The Open Thread Bar class allows you to learn all about threads. Superior Threads have only a few National Educators and Cincy lives right here in Northern California. There are so many various types of threads- silk, cotton, polyblends, hand dyed, natural dyed and variegated threads which help create the wonderful ‘thread painting’ in art quilts we see often in quilt shows.   In her Thread Bar workshop, Cindy also teaches how to do bobbin work which allows you to put various thread weights in the bobbin. This is often used in reverse thread painting.  Many quilters have never tried adjusting their bobbin case to allow for various thread weights.  Cindy takes the mystery out of bobbin work and answers many questions about threads.  After all the piecing, we want to use our threads to create the best possible effect on our quilt.  If you get the opportunity to take any of Cindy’s workshops, do it without hesitation.  Have your local guild get in touch with Cindy for your next guild meeting but beware – she is booked several months in advance. Her trunk show will amaze you and certainly get your creativity flowing in anticipation of your next quilt project. Cindy ‘s website is: