One of the questions I am asked most often by my students is if I trapunto my applique. The reason this always comes up in class is because my applique looks as though it has a firm ‘stuffed’ appearance. The answer is no, I do not trapunto the applique and the look lies in the way I machine quilt my quilts. Through experience machine quilting complex hand applique quilts, I have learned how to achieve the look I prefer and what I think really accentuates the applique and puts it in its best textural light.
I will illustrate the general idea with the photos, but it is much better demonstrated in person obviously.
First off I use a wool batting. Ever since Diane Gaudynski recommended wool batting to domestic machine quilting and longarm enthusiasts, I have used it. She was so right about how wonderfully “fluffy” it is and how well it enhances the machine quilting. As a bonus, it is also perfect for enhancing hand applique too. There are many brands now which include Matilda’s, Quilter’s Dream Wool, Hobb’s, etc.,
I should back up and add an important point. I am speaking of intricate layered applique here, which means the largest area of any one applique piece is usually no larger than 1.5″-2.0″ across in more than one direction.
I do not quilt around the applique prior to the background fill step. This tends to flatten out the applique and then eliminates that all important ‘poof’ that builds up and fills behind the applique piece. This ‘poof’ that forms during the background fill process will then get worked into the background fill area instead of behind the applique robbing the applique of that stuffed effect. Like I said, better demonstrated in person.
I background fill up to the edges of my applique pieces and then hug the outside edges of the applique with some outline quilting. This pushes and traps that ‘poof’ under the applique area giving it that raised, trapunto-like effect. Filling firmly the area behind the applique.
After all of the quilting has been done, I go back into the interior of the layered applique pieces and with Superior’s MonoPoly thread, quilting around the individual layered edges of the applique. This creates an even firmer effect and removes any “droop” (think applique belly fat) and/or tension wrinkling from the applique.
As with everything, there is a no size fits all. I thought I would share the technique I use with my applique since this is a question I get a lot. Now back to quilting my quilt…….
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