An Introduction to Trapunto

Jul 13, 2021

Hello and welcome! Or instead, I should say, “Ciao e Benvenuto!” Because today we are talking all about the Italian quilting method, Trapunto!


Trapunto is a quilting technique where you add extra stuffing or batting to create a more 3 dimensional effect in your design. 


The oldest trapunto we’ve found is actually one of the oldest surviving quilts in the world, it is the Tristan and Isolde quilt that is split in 2 parts, currently displayed in the Victoria and Albert Museum and the other in the Bargello in Florence. The quilt was made in Sicily in the 2nd half of the 14th century. 


Trapunto was used in tapestries, quilts, and clothing to add extra dimension to a project. Traditionally it is done by hand by having a base fabric behind the quilt top. You would then stitch the 2 layers together along the designs. Then cut small slits into the base fabric, and insert the stuffing through the slits. Once stuffed, they’d whip stitch the slits closed. This created beautiful and interesting effects, but was quite time consuming and did require cutting slits in the quilt. 


However, we can now use our machine and a few modern tools (like water soluble thread) to make the process MUCH quicker and simpler but provides the same dimensional effect. I teach this method in Meander.


Trapunto can be the primary design element in a whole cloth quilt, like I did in this project. The only design is the trapunto/quilting. The B has extra batting using the trapunto technique I teach, and I quilted around it very densely to add extra emphasis. 

You can use Trapunto in channels to create interesting geometric designs as well, like I've done in this quilt. 


Trapunto can also be used to further highlight the design in your quilt block or appliqué piece, like I did with this project.

I added trapunto behind this Hawaiian Appliqué piece (another workshop I teach in Meander) to give even more dimension, then quilted densely around it. 

You could also add trapunto to a quilt for a little extra detail. Imagine adding trapunto in the form of a child's silhouette to a typical block baby quilt. You would only notice the trapunto if you are looking closely, but it would add a fun secondary design. You could do this with floral vines in a border as well. 

Really anywhere where you might add details using free motion quilting (like in a border, large block, or negative space, you could instead add trapunto!

There are so many ways you can use this technique to quickly add extra dimension, emphasis, even drama to your quilts! The sky is the limit and the effect is stunning. 

If you're intrigued and want to try out this fun and simple technique for yourself, I teach the whole process inside Meander. You can join now and start going through the class for just $19. Also this month, I'm teaching a live Trapunto Workshop for Meander members as well as a How to Design your Own Trapunto Quilt class. So if this is a tool you'd like to add to your belt, now is the perfect time to do so! Learn more and sign up for Meander to access all the Trapunto classes here.  


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