Trapunto

09/01/2013

2 Comments

 
Talent and individual expression are not qualities that just other people  possess.
You have it too! All of you have a capacity for creativity in your  quilting.
Let yours happen and realize there are no boundaries to your unique  expression. 
                                                                                                                                        ~Anon.
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My own Trapunto-worked Celtic Knot
Trapunto.  A fantastic word, wouldn't you agree?  

In Italian it means 'to embroider', but in stitching circles it is a very specific type of Italian quilting that was very popular during the 1500s and was used to embellish everything from household items to garments.  The technique migrated to the US in the 1700s and remained relatively popular up until the Civil War.
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The Tristan Quilt at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London.
The above quilt is at the Victoria & Albert Museum and is apparently the oldest quilt known to be still in existence, having been made in Sicily sometime between 1360 and 1400.  It is constructed from linen padded with cotton wadding and quilted with brown and white linen thread.
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A detail of the Tristan Quilt circa 1360-1400
Back in my Costume Studies days (many, many moons ago) we studied the Trapunto technique.  It can be a tedious and time-consuming endeavour, but the finished results are stunning.  (It was made more tedious and time-consuming in my case because I used a piece of fronting fabric that had WAY too high a thread count, making the quilting part of the project difficult.  It is generally advised to use a medium-weight fronting fabric and a light weight backing to make the stuffing part of the project much easier.) 

There are a lot of new ways to produce the same look, but we were taught that the original technique was always done using white linen fabric (cotton in later times), cotton wadding, and linen thread.  The materials were always white in color as the monochromatic palette accentuates the play of shadows and light on the design and creates a bas-relief of sorts, increasing visual interest and texture.
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A modern interpretation of Trapunto work
The basic technique is to first lightly draw your design onto your fronting fabric, then add your backing fabric and quilt along the design lines (without any batting in between the front and back fabric layers. Once the design is completely quilted, small slits are made in the backing fabric in the area to be stuffed, then cotton wadding is carefully added to the area to puff it out and create the three-dimensional design. Once the section is suitably stuffed, the small slit is stitched back together, and you move on to the next section for stuffing. 
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Close-up of my Trapunto-worked Celtic Knot
 It was also common to use cording in addition to the wadding, creating intricate  designs. Any backing areas that will contain cording are slit in two areas at opposite ends of the design and the cord is fed (via a needle) through the  quilted channel from the first opening to end at the second opening. 

There are tutorials online that will give you an idea as to the basic technique, but really you can just play with your design and do it as you like!  There are very good quilting books as well, that give step-by-step instructions.
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Check out the amazing modern trapunto work on this Russian (I think?!) blog...
If you choose to try Trapunto quilting, the key is patience.  Take it slowly and understand from the start that this is not a one-evening project, but the end result is absolutely stunning and makes for a wonderful challenge!

Have any of you tried Trapunto Quilting?  If you have, please share! :-)
 


Comments

09/01/2013 2:15pm

That is AMAZING. Yours is very lovely and I love seeing all the very old ones. Thank you for sharing in general how it is done as well.

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10/01/2013 2:42am

I used to do 'Italian quilting' - had forgotten all about it until I popped over to your blog! Thank you for popping over to mine, too. I remember I made a round cushion with red satin and a celtic knot type of pattern. I used to use muslin on the back. It was well over 30 years ago but I bet it's lurking in the depths of my Dad's house - now I've remembered, I'll have to go and have a look for it!

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