Saturday, July 27, 2013

Faux Trapunto My Way!

My friend Babs dropped by to visit my Mom and she asked to see the Anna quilt. She particularly liked the dragonflies in the border and asked if they are trapunto. They are not but the stippling flattens the background so they puff a little to look like trapunto. But if I wanted I could still make them look even more like trapunto in a non-traditional way. I know this because I've done it in the past! And you've heard me say this before, I can be lazy so I look for easy, quick ways of doing things and faux trapunto is one of them!

This method is best suited to simple shapes or little details. I wouldn't do a huge medallion this way (although I supposed there's no reason why you couldn't) but little details like the dragonflies would be ideal. Faux trapunto is done after the quilting is completed. I developed this method many years for a quilt I made for my daughter.

Hopollo 1: Frogs in Space, Karen H, 1995

This quilt is titled Hopollo 1: Frogs in Space.  It is a mishmash of star blocks made of bright colours and a black background. Some of the prints have frogs, some were space prints and some of the blocks had appliqued or pieced frogs hence the name. In each corner of the border there is a poison dart frog. The frogs looked flat and I wanted more dimension. The solution? Faux trapunto!
Faux trapunto frog close-up
This frog fits inside a 4" square. Its arms, legs and body are trapunto but not the hands or feet. So how did I do this? You will need acrylic yarn and a larger needle. The first step is to do the quilting. This works with hand quilting as with the frog or machine quilting as with the dragonfly. Use a colour of yarn to match the fabric but for demonstration purposes I've used a darker colour. If you have a largish space to fill, the frog's body for example use a double strand of yarn.

On the wrong side of the quilt insert the needle where the trapunto is to begin and slide the needle in between the fabric and the batting.
Continue sliding the needle along between the fabric and the batting until you reach the point where the trapunto is to end. Exit the needle.
Pull the yarn through until the ends are just inside the starting point (in this case the tail) and then trim the yarn close to the exit point, the head. It may be necessary to insert your needle perpendicular to the exit point to sweep in any loose ends.
In the example above this is the first insert of yarn in the body. I will repeat it once more to add a little more volume . I'll repeat the same process to fill the wings.
Had I used a colour of yarn to match the fabric it would have been invisible. I have found that a light colour works best for most fabrics, regardless of the colour.
Trapunto from the back where I worked - you can see a hint of the colour of the yarn (Note: if you selected carefully the hint of colour could be a "special" effect for your quilt)

Trapunto from the front
And there you have it - faux trapunto my lazy way! In the dragonfly above there is faux trapunto in the wings on the left side as well as the body and no trapunto in the wings on the right side. I might just do this on the Anna quilt now that I've done it on the test patch!
And now for one little surprise about the poison dart frogs in Hopollo 1: Frogs in Space. If you are familiar with these little frogs you will know that they are very colourful! So what did I do? I painted the frogs before quilting and trapunto! I used plain old ordinary folk art craft paint. And they look as good today as they did when I did them 18 years ago! This is what they look like! I didn't want to damage my lovely paint job so I did the trapunto from the back and it worked just fine!

I just looked out the front window and what did I see? Hmm, it is starting to look like those Turtle Girls are serious about their yoga! At least it won't be in my livingroom! I wonder if they'll get any takers. We'll just have to wait and see, won't we?
Until I post again, happy sewing!


  1. thats the method i learned back in 1992.. works really well and adds great dimension to small areas

    1. Hi Shiela! That's so interesting to know that others have done the same thing! It was so much more difficult to share information I the past but with the internet the world has opened up and sharing ideas is so easy now. I think that is a wonderful thing!