Practice Machine-Stitched Trapunto

comments (5) October 24th, 2008     

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MaryRay Mary Ray, contributor
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Machine-stitched trapunto creates relief designs on the surface of a quilt or other project.
Transfer the pattern shapes to a piece of tear-away stabilizer.
Center batting in the designs on the wrong side of the fabric.
Machine-stitched trapunto creates relief designs on the surface of a quilt or other project.

Machine-stitched trapunto creates relief designs on the surface of a quilt or other project.

Photo: Mary Ray

Trapunto originated in Italy back in the 1500s. Traditionally, it is done by stitching a design on fabric with an additional backing fabric underneath and a layer of batting between the fabrics. To create the raised effect, a slit is cut on the backing fabric behind each design and the motifs are stuffed with additional batting. The openings are whipstitched closed and a second backing fabric is added to cover the slashes.

I used a sewing machine to stitch my designs, placing batting behind the motifs instead of slashinig and stuffing. A leaf is the perfect image to use to practice this technique. It’s a simple shape and the veins provide an opportunity to build some texture into the design. I picked up a few of the many spectacular ones that have fallen around my house and traced the shapes to create the patterns for my three-leaf motif that I stitched on silk dupioni fabric.

Follow these steps to create a trapunto piece of your own:

1. Trace the designs from the paper patterns onto some tear-away stabilizer. Then place the stabilizer on top of the fabric and free-motion-stitch (lower the feed dogs and guide the fabric yourself) around each shape. Gently remove all the stabilizer. (Alternatively, you can trace the designs directly onto the fabric and keep the stabilizer under the work as you sew, but marking on fabric is always tricky and the above method is an easy way to transfer the images.)

  Transfer the pattern shapes to a piece of tear-away stabilizer.

2. Use the paper patterns to cut the shapes from some thick batting scraps, or use two layers of batting to create the desired amount of loft. Trim the shapes all around so that they’re slightly smaller than the stitched designs.


Center batting in the designs on the wrong side of the fabric.

3. Pin the shapes in place to the back side of the fabric. Turn the piece over, repin from the right side, and remove the pins on the back.
4. Place a piece of backing fabric on the back to cover the batting.


A muslin backing covers the batting and provides a base for the trapunto stitching.

5. From the right side, stitch around the shapes again, trying not to catch the batting.
6. Stitch the veins in the leaves, through all thicknesses. Use some variegated or blendable thread and “paint” around the shapes with stitches.


Shown from the wrong side, see how the designs are sculpted by sewing through all thicknesses.

posted in: fabric, embroidery, wearable, houseware, thread

Comments (5)

Kool_Grandsons writes: Kool !! I wanted to take a 2-day class in it but I'll be out of town those days...so I'm going to try this very soon - I have just the quilt top to practice on - but first I'll practice on a plain piece of scrap fabric. Thank you !!


Posted: 8:30 am on January 4th
MaryRay writes: Hi NietoLynn. You don't need an embroidery machine. I think you can lower the feed dogs and do free-motion stitching on most machines. (If you're machine is older, this would probably be the technique used for darning. Does anybody do that any more?) However, you can stitch around a design without lowering the feed dogs as well, but you'll need to do a lot of pivoting with the needle down in that case. I use about a 3mm stitch length. It takes a little practice to sew consistent even stitches when you're sewing free motion. You need to find a "rhythm," but, it's fun -- and I wouldn't worry too much about trying to obtain perfectly even stitches.
Posted: 10:27 am on November 25th
NietoLynn writes: do you use an embroidery machine or just a straight sewing machine, also what stitch do you use length/ width. I have always thought about trying just that on my straight sewing machine, but, thought it would be a waste of time.
Lynn
Posted: 8:28 pm on November 12th
Sweet_Pea writes: Mary,

What a great solution to the slashing and stuffing method. I always found that to be way too tedious, but your method seems much easier. I think I'll give it a try. Bet its a great time saver too.
Posted: 2:05 pm on October 25th
TipiLady writes: Oh, now THAT is way COOL! I have to try it. Do you think it can be done through deer hide? I was wondering how I could do an image of a wolf on the back of my son's jacket. I need something more subtle than beadwork. This could be the ticket. I should try it on a purse first. This is so great! Thankyou! Thankyou!
Posted: 12:44 pm on October 24th
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