Shadow Trapunto Quilting

Trapunto quilting is a detailed process that adds dimension to a quilt or wall hanging.  It is really cool and makes images in fabric really pop out.  In this instructable we will see some ways to save a lot of time from old traditional ways. 

Step 1: Find an Image

Traditional quilting can be kind of boring.  Find an image you think is cool and I will show you how to make it into a quilt. 

Step 2: Photo Copy the Picture

Photocopy the picture to make it black and white.  We are shooting for a high contrast image and may need to mess a few up so make a few copies.  Some times it helps to make a copy of your copy in order to get a image that has no mid-tones.

Step 3: Shadows

Go in to your photocopy image with a black pen.  A sharpie works great.  Color all the dark ares black.  Leave anything neutral or white alone.  Be sure to put a solid black line around the whole thing. 

Step 4:

Cut your picture out and scan it in to a computer.  Tell the scanner it is text.  That way it will finish your job of finding black and white.  You should have a fabulous high contrast image now and this is where you can begin to save some time.  You could print out and spray glue this image onto a piece of batting and then hand cut all the black areas out.  Or you can Join a do it yourself workshop like Maker Place in San Diego and use their laser to cut it for you.  Or just pay some one with a laser to do it for you.  Either way, I am going to show you the laser way.  Save your work as a .bmp. and we will prepare the batting. 

Step 5: Set Up the Batting.

You will need a piece of batting, plywood, spray glue, and White fabric for the shadow effect.  Be sure you use a spray glue made for quilting that says it will not clog up your needle. Wool batting works best.  Cotton catches fire and wont go out.  Polyester is a little tricky to cut because it flames up so easily, but is great otherwise. Go as thick as you are comfortable with.  I used the regular wool they had at the quilt shop.  

Cut all three of them to the size you want your project.

Glue the white fabric to your batting.  This will help it block out the dark background a little better later on. 

Glue the whole thing to the piece of plywood, fabric side down.  Now you have a nice wooden quilt sandwich. 

Step 6: Laser Cut the Batting

We are going to etch the fish into the plywood and this will in turn burn all the batting we don't want away.  Set your focus just a little beneath the batting surface. 

Lay the plywood down on the laser bed with batting up.  Test out some etching speeds and strengths to be sure it will burn the batting all the way out. 

Import your file and press start!

Step 7: It Should Look Awesome

If you used wool then you probably want to shoot it with a lot of fabreeze or something like that but don't overdo it.  We will wash it later.  We need it dry for the next step. 

Step 8: Get It Off the Board

If you are doing this kind of work, chances are that you don't have a lot of time for  friends.  I am kidding.  But if you are working alone here are some tips to manage the fabric better. 

Get your top sheet and spray glue it along one side and secure it to the underside of the plywood. 

Get a small board and glue it to the other end of the fabric so it is easier to hold it straight. 

Now spray the entire top sheet and drape it over the fish.  Smooth it out, glory in it and move on. 

Step 9: Scrape

Find a nice spatula, or similar item and scrape the your project off the plywood as you pull it off the board with the other hand. 

Don't worry about the charred parts, they will disappear in the shadow effect later on. 

You are now done with the plywood and it has a cool picture on it.  Give it to someone. 

Step 10: Add the Shadow

Lay your new scraping out and admire it for a minute.  Now you need to find a thin dark piece of fabric that is the same size as your top piece that you just glued on. Be sure you can see things through it on a light table.

You will need a friend or two straight boards to help you wrangle the fabric.  Glue on board on either end of your dark fabric.  Spray the fabric with glue.  lift it over and set it down squarely on top of the fluffy new laser cut batting. Smooth it, glory in it, and move on.  

Step 11: This Whole Sandwich Is Your Quilt Top.

This whole sandwich is your quilt top, and now it is off to the light table to mark out where we need to quilt. 

For this project you need a super "light table".  If you can add extra lights to yours then do it.  A window in sunlight works, Dim the lights in your room will help as well. 

You will need a fabric erasable marker.  Ask the quilt shop what their favorite is. 

Lay your quilt top on the light table and trace each area where the batting is missing.  That is where you will be quilting (sewing dark thread). 

Step 12: Build Quilt Sandwich and Quilt

Lay backing batting and your newly made quilt top (that has its own batting inside) in a stack.  If you want to machine quilt it spray glue the three layers together.  If you are long arming then set up that way.  I did both. 

Machine quilting is much more precise but not as fast.  You may need to read your owners manual to find out how to attach a darning foot to your machine, but most machines have them.  There is an aftermarket for all machines and they are pretty cheap.  They let you move your fabric whatever direction you want when you are sewing.  With some practice you can draw pictures with your sewing machine. 

I posted a photo of a darning foot here so you will know what I am talking about. 

Drop the feed dogs (check your manual to see how) and you are off.  If you cant drop the feed dogs, don't sweat it.  I have done tons of quilting with them up because I forget some times.  It still works, just not as smoothly. 

If you need help with this, look up free motion quilting and see some demos. 

Step 13: Long Arm

Long arm quilting takes special stuff.  If you have access to a do it yourself workshop like Maker Place in San Diego, you can use their long arm.  Basically you just move the machine over the fabric and do your quilting.  It is fun and fast but there is a little bit of learning curve.

Step 14: Trim Up

Stitch anything you want in the background.  Just read the instructions on the batting so you know how loose or tight you need your pattern to be.  I chose wavy lines because they looked like water and I thought my fish needed some of that. 

Now you need to trim up your hanging threads.  I just cut mine close to the fabric.  If I worry that they will run I put some thread lock on them.  When you stitch this dense, it is probably not a concern. 

When the loose threads are trimmed up, take a rotary cutter and straight edge and square up the whole thing.  Try to cut in long sections so that your lines will be straighter. 

Step 15: Hang It

Hang it on the wall and make other quilters wonder how you were able to do such detailed work.  The shadow Really helps separate the front image from the back.  The texture just makes it work the way fabric should. 



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    2 Discussions


    6 years ago on Step 13

    And if you don't have a long arm, you can spend your winter months doing it by hand, right?
    Your quilt is stunning, BTW.


    6 years ago on Step 6

    You can use scissors for this part as well. If that is what you are into.