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Home > Craft Topics > Projects > Trapunto Quilting

Textile Projects - Trapunto Quilting

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Trapunto is a versatile form of decorative quilting. The designs are stitched by hand or machine through two layers of fabric, then selected areas are padded with wadding. This is inserted through small slits made under the fabric. Trapunto is also known as Marseilles work, is Italian in origin. It can be combined with other cloth crafts such as appliqué and patchwork. The padded designs of trapunto are very effective worked with other styles of quilting, particularly the raised linear effects of Italian corded quilting, and many designs incorporate both techniques.

Materials and equipment
As with traditional quilting, two layers of fabric are used for the trapunto and a further lining is usually required.

Choose top fabrics that are suitable for other quilting techniques; they should be firm and evenly woven fabrics. Plain fabrics in silk and cotton show off the padded effects to advantage, and the motifs on printed fabrics can also be highlighted with trapunto.
For backing, use a thin, plain cotton muslin.
The raised effect is achieved by stuffing with kapok or wadding.
You will also need fabric lining.

Other equipment
A crochet hook, bodkin or cocktail stick are used for teasing out and inserting the stuffing: sewing threads should be an appropriate fibre, and colour match the top fabric; a quilting frame should be used to hold large projects; an embroidery hoop is ideal for supporting smaller pieces of work.

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Working the design
If the technique is combined with Italian quilting, stitch the design and work the corded parts of the design before starting on the trapunto areas.

1. Work the design outline with small running stitches or backstitch. If sewing by machine, select a medium length stitch and pull thread ends to the wrong side.

2. When the design is complete turn the work to the wrong side. Work a space between the woven threads with a cocktail stick if the area to be stuffed is small, otherwise make a small snip in the backing fabric at the centre of each area to be padded, cutting along the grain line if possible.

3. Insert the stuffing a little at a time, carefully teasing it out to avoid lumps. Gently push into place, distributing it evenly.

4. Ease back the woven threads, or close the slit by bringing the raw edges together with small overcast stitches.

Trapunto squares

Trapunto and Italian quilting is used to make these simple but effective motifs. Scale up the designs, then combine them with patchwork to form a quilt as described below.

Heart - work the diagonal cording before the outline of the heart, then add the trapunto border.


Flower - work the corded flower stem first. Then add petals which are worked in trapunto

Leaves and acorns - Tiny stitches catch the acorn cups to give them a mottled texture

Flower basket - work the cording on the basket before you work the trapunto flowers.

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Trapunto Quilt

Picture 051.jpg (1221792 bytes) The quilt which is measures 47 inches square, is lined with matching pink fabric and edged with a border made up from pink and grey strips. The quilt is completed with lines of hand quilting work round each square. Allow an extra ½ inch all around for seams when cutting.

You will need:
2¾ yard of 54 inches plain pink satin cotton.
¾ yard of 54 inches wide grey print cotton
1½ yard mid weight polyester wadding
1½ yard cotton muslin for trapunto backing
Kapok, or synthetic wadding for stuffing
Quilting wool or cotton cord for Italian quilting
Pink sewing and quilting thread

Cutting the pieces
From the pink fabric cut twenty four 6 inch squares for the trapunto, and one hundred 2 inch squares for the patchwork.
Cut a 48 inch square of fabric for the lining.
Cut the muslin into twenty four squares for the trapunto.
Cut grey fabric into one hundred and twenty five 2 inch squares.

Making the quilt
Prepare the trapunto designs, working six squares of each motif. Make up twenty five patchwork squares, each made up from five grey and four pink squares.
Join the trapunto and patchwork squares together alternately in rows of seven squares, starting with a row of four patchwork and three trapunto squares. Arrange the trapunto motifs to suit, with no two same designs close together.
Join the rows of squares together and make borders as follows: from pink fabric cut four strips 1 inch wide and long enough to fit around the edge. Join to the quilt. From grey fabric cut four strips 1 inch wide and long enough to reach around the pink border. Join to quilt. Cut four more border strips from pink fabric, 2 inches wide, and join those to the quilt.

Finishing the quilt
Lay the wadding and lining on wrong side of quilt. Pin in place and fold border so that 1 inch overlaps lining. Slipstitch in place. Tack; quilt with running stitches round each square.

Trapunto appliqué - Here's how to add contrasting colours or patterns to a piece of quilting or trapunto work.
1. Cut out an appliqué shape from plain or printed fabric. If the motif is to be machine zigzag stitched to the background fabric, no seam allowance is necessary. If the motif is to be hand stitched, allow a little extra fabric all round for turnings.

2. Snip the turnings to ease, and press them to the wrong side of the motif. Pin and tack the motif in place, and secure with small stitches. Turn the work over and make a slit in the backing fabric to insert stuffing as described.
Alternatively, partially stitch the motif to the backing, insert the stuffing, and continue stitching the motif in place.

'Project submitted by Kimberley Merchant from Kimberley's Crafts'

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