29 March, 2013

How to make Trapunto Quilts - tutorial

 This trapunto quilt tutorial is part of the series

In just a few words, trapunto means a quilt design raised with an additional layer of batting and with a pronounced "stuffed" effect. While it wasn't an easy technique in the past, today's quilters made it easier- you just have to try it.

trapunto quilt tutorial
PIN it for later

Here is a small sample I made.

trapunto quilt tutorial

You can see below  (you can feel it too if you touch it) the difference between a wholecloth  quilt and a trapunto quilt. The look of the design depends by the thickness/type of the batting used.
For the trapunto design  I used the same batting I used for the wholecloth quilt, which was not very thick.
But more dramatic 3D effect could be achieved with thicker batting.

trapunto quilts tutorial
left picture- wholecloth; right picture- trapunto
A dense quilting around the design makes it stand out even more.

trapunto quilts tutorial
picture on the left - wholecloth;  picture on the right - trapunto

Materials List for this small sample
- top fabric, batting, backing :16''x 16''
- additional layer of batting for trapunto: 14''x14''
- washable marker

What batting to use for trapunto
  • For my past trapunto projects I used a fluffy polyester batting, like Hobbs Poly Down Plus or Poly-fil Hi Loft by Fairfield, weighting about 4 -6 ounces per square yard (150-200 g/square meter). Quilters Dream Puff is also good for this technique.
    Thicker batting could also be used (with better look for trapunto, of course), but then you need more care to keep the fabric flat while quilting.
  • For some projects I used cotton batting or cotton -poly blend;
  • Some quilters use 2 or even more layers and this is definitely harder to trim.

    You need to know: fluffy polyester batting is easier to trim than felt-like cotton batting.
 Download the design
To assemble the pattern, cut on the dashed line of the first page and tape it to the second page.

-click on the picture to download the design -
Transfer the design onto fabric; as I don't have a light-box, I taped the paper pattern onto a window then I taped the fabric over it.
Using the washable marker, transfer the design onto fabric.

Pin the trapunto batting to the back of the marked fabric.

trapunto tutorial
Stitch on the design lines, through the 2 layers. Normally you would use water soluble thread for this step.
Many quilters use it only in the needle (paired in the bobbin with a thread in a color that matches the fabric); but I like to use it in the bobbin too -  it means a few more dollars but less headaches with the thread tension, stitching mistakes or the bobbin thread showing on the top after washing the quilt.

If you don't have water-soluble thread at hand, you could try the technique with invisible thread- see how it works for you and decide if you want to invest in water soluble thread.

Stitching on the front
Here is how the stitching looks on the back.

Stitching on the back

Cut the batting away around the design. This task probably scares many quilters and they don't even have the desire to try this wonderful technique. But here are 3 tips  that make the technique easier.

The trimming is easier (and with less chances for snipping the fabric) if the fabric is stiff  - so starch it WELL. My fabric is not well starched, I don't have enough patience for this, but this step is a HUGE help. Take your time and starch your fabric a few times.

trapunto tutorial
Trim the batting as close  to the stitching line as possible.
2. The scissors 
This thread snip (thread clipper) is the best tool for trimming the batting. I did not even try other scissors, because it is fantastic.
The short blades allow better control while trimming, meaning- again- less chances to clip the fabric.
Keep always the fabric flat while you trim the batting.

Accidents happen, no matter how carefully you trim the batting away. If you clipped the fabric, usually the hole can be covered with a dense quilting, in the final quilting stage. 

trapunto tutorial
When all the excess batting is cut away,  make the usual sandwich for a quilt: add batting and backing then quilt- a dense stippling is great.
For the trapunto design, stitch on top of the previous stitching done with water-soluble thread or just a little outside the stitching line. Keep the batting enclosed by stitching.
Then wash the quilt.

The design looks great- stitched twice, but outlined with a single stitching line, after washing.

And here are a few of my  trapunto quilts, made many years ago.

The design is enhanced by light color fabric.

and shiny fabric, like sateen, taffeta.

trapunto  quilts tutorial

It is an interesting technique, with beautiful results. I hope you will try it at least once.
See the other tutorials of the series here.



  1. Wonderful!
    Thanks for Tutorial! And Happy Easter!

    Greatings from German...

  2. Dear Geta !
    This is an amazing tutorial ! Thank you very much . I will try it soon . Happy Easter and greatings from Austria (Vienna), Heidi

  3. Hi Geta,
    Thanks for taking the time to do these amazing tutorials for us.

    Lots of quilty hugs,

    Robyn aka: arizonagirl

  4. Geta - thank you soo much for this tutorial ! I love the results of Trapunto (and the whole cloth was beautiful as well). I purchased your book some time ago and made my first shadow trapunto wall hanging... You can see it here :


    Thanks for sharing your talents -- we are very lucky for you to do so!


  5. Дорогая Гета! С Пасхой Вас! Очень благодарна Вам за Ваши уроки. Это очень важно для многих людей. С огромной благодарностью принимаю Ваши уроки и дизайны. Спасибо.

  6. I love them! Thank you so much for your lovely blog!
    Happy Easter! :)
    Hugs, Ulla (Ulla's Quilt World)

  7. Дорогая Гета! С Пасхой Вас! Очень благодарна Вам за Ваши уроки. Это очень важно для многих людей. С огромной благодарностью принимаю Ваши уроки и дизайны. Спасибо.

  8. Thank you so much for this wonderful tutorial. I have always wanted to try this and now I will. Your work is beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing with all of us.

    Happy Easter :)

  9. Obrigada tutorial perfeito!Feliz Páscoa!!!Beijos do Brasil

  10. Great tutorial! Thanks a bunch! I think I can try this now! :o)

  11. Thanks you so much for the awesome tutorial!

  12. These are beautiful. Thanks so much for the tutorial. I will definitely give this technique a try.

  13. Thanks for the second tutorial and free design. I hope to try them together.

  14. I love Your tutorial, Geta!!! Thanks so much!!

  15. I love Your tutorial, Geta!!! Thanks so much!!you dont even know where my imagination was taking me on the How to project, you would be laughing at me.. I couldnt even pronounce it in Texas language.. I had to get someone to do that. Wow.. just Wow.. easier looking than I thought.

  16. Thank you very much for that Tutorial! Is so cleaver and neat! Have a nice day! A hug!

  17. Thank you so very much! Your work is amazing:)

  18. Veeery interesting. I wonder if my designs would work well with this style. I mostly embroider my more complex designs, but this trumpato looks like it could work. What I have posted on the web isn't even half of the designs I have sketched. I've only posted the ones that have matching fabric art mates. The designs you've done with this technique are right up my alley of design sketches. Now I know something new! Thanks.

  19. Oh Geta, I marvel at your endless talent with trapunto. And your tutorial and photos have given me confidence that i can successfully use this beautiful and impressive quilting technique. Thanks, again, Geta.

  20. It's just awesome! I just love your tutorial, that was really helpful for me. I'm just thinking to make these designs soon. Thanks!

  21. Great tutorial and very easy to follow thank you very much for sharing it. Your designs are lovely. Jane from England x

  22. Thank you so much, Geta, for your tips and tutorials, not only you're a great quilter and teacher, you're a generous person too!!!
    Thank you so much, i'd like to try trapunto technique on this w.e.! Greetings from Anna, Italy

  23. I absolutely love your work! I'm a new quilter, but seem to have a knack for decorative design. Ive always wanted to learn how to quilt and finally took a class since I've become disabled. Thank you so much for the wonderful tutorial! I'm going to try this technique!

  24. Geta - I've been searching for days finding a way to add dimension to my next quilt(s) - AND THERE YOU WERE!!! New to quilting and it took me a while to get to "trapunto" which is exactly what I was searching to learn how to do from the "experts" and you are one! Thank you so much for taking the time to post and share your experience and techniques. I am grateful. I know this will work for me and so much easier than all that paper piecing, etc. Again, thanks from South Florida in the US!!

    1. I am very happy that you find this tutorial helpful, Nancy! It's a great technique! Happy quilting!



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