I'm aware of two main methods of adding trapunto to hand quilting. Since most of my quilt is already quilted, I've been left with just one option which I'll try to explaining here step by step. This is my first try at it and I'm no expert but I found it relatively easy to do. All the photos can be clicked on for enlargement.
- I'm using an acrylic bulky yarn that is very soft and doesn't have a tightly twisted ply. You can use wool but it must be washable and preshrunk. Matilda's Own had one for trapunto that they discontinued several months ago.
- A six inch trapunto needle. I do know that Clover, Bohin, John James and Birch all make them.
- A shorter tapestry needle can be helpful for small shapes.
- Small sharp pair of scissors.
- Rubber finger to help pull the needle through.
- A toothpick.
This yarn is very soft and doesn't feel like nylon at all. I like that the plies can be separated if needed.
Double over the yarn and thread the needle through the eye. I'm using doubled yarn so I make the tail ends even.
Because the tip of the needle is blunt, it won't damage the threads, it will separate them. A sharp pointed needle would damage the fabric threads and that's not what we want. I'm glad I used a plain muslin fabric on the back, it would be harder to see the quilted shapes otherwise.
You can work the stuffing with or without a hoop. I like to do without since I can hide the thread ends easier later.
Wiggle the tip of the needle into the shape to be stuffed on the back side of the quilt. In this case, it's a feather shape. I'm holding the quilt sandwich in my left hand like a sock puppet. The needle goes between the fabric and batting, not underneth the batting or in it.
The needle exits at the bottom of the teardrop shape. It doesn't seem to matter if I start at the top or bottom of the shape.
Pull the needle and yarn through, you'll need to tug a little.
I leave about 1/8" tail at the entry hole, sometimes a bit less.
I like to put my finger behind the thread at the exit end so that I'll be more in control of cutting the yarn. About an 1/8" is good. I make this cut very deliberate and slow so as not to have an accidental cut into the quilt. I've found that I can cut quite close after a bit of practice. Caution is paramount though.
If I stretch the quilt sandwich like so, the thread ends often disappear inside the shape.
Another option is to take a sharp needle and insert and twist around the yarn inside to get it to go inside the shape.
Or you can use the toothpick to poke the ends in the holes.
If you lightly scratch the warp and weft threads around the holes in the direction of the straight of grain, the holes will almost close up. I use the toothpick or a sharp needle. After washing, the threads around the entry and exit holes will close and tighten up further and there will be no evidence of how the stuffing got in there.
I'd hate to tell you in what order to stuff the shapes as I've found what suits me depending on the size. You could start in the middle and alternate side to side or you could start at one side and go from one side to the other.
You may need to stagger some yarn so that you stuff more plies at the fat end of the shapes. Do that by adding yarn from the fat end to about the middle or two thirds of the way down.
You know you've overstuffed if the quilting stitches on the right side look wrinkled. Stuff enough to give a full look but not too tightly that there's no give in the fabric. Check on the right side of the quilt.
Here's how it's looking so far. I still have more to do on the bottom left ring.
See, it's not hard but it does take time and it can be hard on the hand pulling the yarn through.
For cording or stuffing narrow lines, I would assess how many plies it would take and the process is exactly the same. If the channel is narrow, try a smaller tapestry needle.
You can click on this link here to a very helpful video which shows the steps as I've tried to explain them.It shows French boutis but it's the same method only without the batting in the middle.