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Step 3 – how to machine trapunto for added dimension

by Julie Plotniko

Welcome back.

Yesterday was a busy day trimming the lovely Heron panel from the Artisan Spirit Water Garden, ironing the Sulky stabilizer in place, and using SCHMETZ needles and Gütermann thread to construct and attach borders to the panel.

Today I’ll use Sulky threadSCHMETZ needles and Fairfield batting to add extra dimension to our panel with easy machine trapunto.

You may remember that we used trapunto in part three of my post Say it with quilting, a designer cushion to give a raised appearance to the words and motifs.

This technique will help add extra visual depth to our printed panel and make tomorrow’s thread painting really stand out.

What is trapunto?

Trapunto, also referred to as a stuffed work or stuffed quilting, is traditionally a form of hand quilting. Extra batting or cording is used to stuff channels or motifs to create areas of high relief within the quit.

Machine trapunto is used to create a similar look.

This is achieved by stitching an extra layer or layers of batting in place around the chosen motifs prior to the addition of the backing fabric. The extra batting is then trimmed away just outside the stitching line.

Trim the extra batting just outside the stitching line

After trimming the piece is layered a second time with a full piece of batting and the backing fabric.
When quilted the sections with the extra batting will have a lovely stuffed appearance.

Trapunto is used to create areas of high relief.

A little Trapunto goes a long way

I want to add a little extra relief to the quilted Artisan Spirit Water Garden panel from Northcott to give it a three dimensional appearance.

Fairfield Soft & Toasty natural cotton batting will do this beautifully. It’s soft, pliable and will add just the right amount of extra puff to the areas I choose to highlight.

Pin a layer of Soft & Toasty to the wrong side of the panel only. I don’t need any batting underneath the borders yet.

Fairfield Soft & Toasty natural cotton batting behind area to receive trapunto work

Thread the machine with clear Sulky Invisible thread on top.

I’ll use this very fine polyester monofilament thread to stitch around the portions of the panel that I wish to highlight with trapunto.

The invisible thread will hold the extra layer of batting in place and I won’t have to worry about the stitches showing underneath our thread painting.

Machine threaded with Sulky Invisible thread

I used a SCHMETZ Quilting needle size 75/11 to stitch the Sulky invisible thread.
It has a small enough eye to control the fine thread and a nice sharp point to easily pierce the top fabric and batting.

Wind a bobbin with Gütermann 50 weight cotton thread in a color that’s clearly visible on the batting. It’s easier to trim away the excess batting if you can see the bottom thread.

Place a darning foot on the machine and drop the feed dogs.

Prepare your machine with a darning foot and SCHMETZ Quilting needle

Stitch around any areas of the printed panel that you wish to highlight.

I stitched around the heron, a few of the pieces of tall grass and several of the water lily flowers.

Choose items that are visually in the foreground or appear closer to you to keep the piece looking balanced.

Don’t stitch anything in detail at this point, just a rough outline.

Stitch a simple outline

Use a small pair of sharp scissors to cut away all of the batting on the outside of the stitched line.
I find that curved embroidery scissors work well for this job.

Trim as close to the line as possible.

Be cautious not to catch the fabric while trimming.

Save leftover pieces of Fairfield batting for future trapunto work.

Trim the batting as close to the stitching as possible

Give the panel a light press to smooth out any wrinkles.

Your backing fabric and batting should be 2″ or 3″ larger than the top on all sides. Press the backing.

Layer the piece with the backing, right side down topped by a full layer of Fairfield Soft & Toastynatural cotton batting.

Center the bordered panel on top, smooth in place and lightly pin baste.

Ready for thread painting

I love the extra dimension that is achieved by the addition of even a small amount of machine trapunto.

Our Fairfield battingSCHMETZ needlesSulky and Gütermann threads make all aspects of trapunto work so fast and easy that I’m sure you’ll want to add it to many future projects.

Be sure and join me tomorrow as I explore the world of free motion thread painting with a wide variety of SCHMETZ needles and Sulky threads.

You won’t want to miss it!

This is part 3 of 5 in this series.
Go back to part 2: Step 2 – framing up a quilt panel using a patchwork border

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