Sunday, April 1, 2012

Shadow Trapunto Samples

Inspired by the incredibly talented award winning Longarm Quilter,  Karen McTavish I have been trying my hand at some trapunto.  I have been studying the wonderful designs by Karen McTavish in her books including "The Secrets of Elemental Quilting" and "Custom Curves".

Trapunto is a technique where quilt motifs are marked onto a quilt top and then quilted onto a layer of wadding with soluble thread.  The wadding is then carefully trimmed away around the motifs, leaving an extra layer of wadding behind the motifs.  The quilt is then layered with wadding and backing as usual and quilted.  Once the quilting is finished, the quilt is dunked in water to remove the water soluble pen markings and water soluble trapunto thread.

Shadow trapunto is similar to basic trapunto but uses different components.  The top layer of the quilt needs to be a sheer fabric, such as a batiste.  A bright piece of fabric is then layered behind the batiste which gives the effect of dyed batting in the background.

I have been experimenting with different fabrics for the top layer and the bright layer of fabric as well as the wadding.  My first sample used a design element called Rapture from Karen McTavish's book "Custom Curves".

The quilting design has been surrounded by my favourite background quilting design - pebbles.  Whilst I was happy with the result, I decided that the top fabric was not sheer enough as the bright red fabric which is layered behind the top fabric barely shows through. 

I managed to find some batiste fabric wide enough to eventually make a wholecloth quilt.  My second sample has been made using this as the top fabric.  Lisa from Dyed and Gone to Heaven has dyed a bright red wide cotton sateen fabric for me which has been used as the second layer in the following sample.  The feather in the sample was inspired by the Victorian Feathers in Karen McTavish's book "The Secrets of Elemental Quilting".

I was quite pleased with the results of the second sample - I like the subtle pink background colour which has been achieved and the contrast of the white feather motifs. 

I think I am ready to transfer these elements onto a larger shadow trapunto quilt.  I have really enjoyed making these sample pieces - I even enjoyed the quiet rhythm of hours of snipping the wadding away and managed to do so without snipping the top fabric.  Hopefully my eventual wholecloth quilt will be made with the same results - wish me luck!


  1. Your work is beautiful and inspirational! Thank you for sharing.

  2. beautiful samples! The Rapture design is gorgeous, and while the red didn't show through a lot, I do like the soft pink that resulted. The contrast on the Victorian Feathers piece is wonderful - can't wait to see your finished quilt, and good luck with all the trimming!

  3. Gorgeous, Gorgeous, Gorgeous, Karen these are beautiful, great work.

  4. These are great samples Karen, it's hard to pick a favourite design. What type of wadding have you used??

  5. Wow, these are beyond gorgeous, Karen. I like the subtlety of the Rapture piece, and the Victorian Feathers just sing!

  6. I love your designs. I am doing and have done some shadow trapunto. Let me know where you get your wide batiste. I've been using batiste out of the home dec dept at 60" wide but would like to get wider.
    I also did like the softness of the first quilt. But the second is great also.

  7. Hi Karen, I have these books too but have not yet attempted any projects. Your samples look great and are so effective, I am inspired again.

  8. Good luck! I'm sure if the next thing you make is half as beautiful as these samples it will be stunning.


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