This trapunto quilt tutorial is part of the series
In just a few words, trapunto means a quilt design raised with an additional layer of batting and with a pronounced “stuffed” effect. While it wasn’t an easy technique in the past, today’s quilters made it easier- you just have to try it.
Here is a small sample I made.
You can see below (you can feel it too if you touch it) the difference between a wholecloth quilt and a trapunto quilt. The look of the design depends by the thickness/type of the batting used.
For the trapunto design I used the same batting I used for the wholecloth quilt, which was not very thick.
But more dramatic 3D effect could be achieved with thicker batting.
Materials List for this small sample
– top fabric, batting, backing :16”x 16”
– additional layer of batting for trapunto: 14”x14”
– washable marker
What batting to use for trapunto
- For my past trapunto projects I used a fluffy polyester batting, like Hobbs Poly Down Plus or Poly-fil Hi Loft by Fairfield, weighting about 4 -6 ounces per square yard (150-200 g/square meter). Quilters Dream Puff is also good for this technique.
Thicker batting could also be used (with better look for trapunto, of course), but then you need more care to keep the fabric flat while quilting.
- For some projects I used cotton batting or cotton -poly blend.
- Some quilters use 2 or even more layers and this is definitely harder to trim.You need to know: fluffy polyester batting is easier to trim than felt-like cotton batting.
Download the design
To assemble the pattern, cut on the dashed line of the first page and tape it to the second page.
Transfer the design onto fabric; as I don’t have a light-box, I taped the paper pattern onto a window then I taped the fabric over it.
Using the washable marker, transfer the design onto fabric.
Pin the trapunto batting to the back of the marked fabric.
Stitch on the design lines, through the 2 layers. Normally you would use water soluble thread for this step.
Many quilters use it only in the needle (paired in the bobbin with a thread in a color that matches the fabric); but I like to use it in the bobbin too – it means a few more dollars but less headaches with the thread tension, stitching mistakes or the bobbin thread showing on the top after washing the quilt.
If you don’t have water-soluble thread at hand, you could try the technique with invisible thread- see how it works for you and decide if you want to invest in water soluble thread.
Here is how the stitching looks on the back.
Cut the batting away around the design. This task probably scares many quilters and they don’t even have the desire to try this wonderful technique. But here are 3 tips that make the technique easier.
The trimming is easier (and with less chances for snipping the fabric) if the fabric is stiff – so starch it WELL. My fabric is not well starched, I don’t have enough patience for this, but this step is a HUGE help. Take your time and starch your fabric a few times.
2. The scissors
This thread snip (thread clipper) is the best tool for trimming the batting. I did not even try other scissors, because it is fantastic.
Keep always the fabric flat while you trim the batting.
Accidents happen, no matter how carefully you trim the batting away. If you clipped the fabric, usually the hole can be covered with a dense quilting, in the final quilting stage.
When all the excess batting is cut away, make the usual sandwich for a quilt: add batting and backing then quilt- a dense stippling is great.
For the trapunto design, stitch on top of the previous stitching done with water-soluble thread or just a little outside the stitching line. Keep the batting enclosed by stitching.
Then wash the quilt.
The design looks great- stitched twice, but outlined with a single stitching line, after washing.
And here are a few of my trapunto quilts, made many years ago.
The design is enhanced by light color fabric.
and shiny fabric, like sateen, taffeta.
It is an interesting technique, with beautiful results. I hope you will try it at least once.
See the other tutorials of the series here.