Over these past winter months, we have been exploring a variety of machine cutwork techniques while making lacy snowflakes, glittery snowflakes, snowflake quilt blocks, and stained glass snowflake blocks. Each technique involved tracing a snowflake onto water-soluble stabilizer, stitching it to fabric, cutting out the design, and satin-stitching over the cut-out edges. In a fraction of the time, we were able to create the look of heirloom embroidery. Today we’re going to take a slightly different approach and see how our snowflake would look quilted with cut-away trapunto.
Trapunto adds marvelous dimension to quilts. It is defined as “quilting that has an embossed design produced by outlining the pattern with single stitches and then padding it with yarn or cotton”. The word originates from the Italian “to embroider” and is sometimes also called stuffed work. Originally, trapunto was done by slitting the backing fabric in order to stuff the design with batting. The slit was then slip-stitched closed or covered with a second backing fabric. But with “cut-away trapunto”, the extra stuffing is added before the quilt is layered and quilted.
It occurred to me that the same Sulky Ultra Solvy that we have been using for our cutwork snowflakes could be used as a quilting template. We could trace the snowflake onto the Solvy, pin it on the quilt, stitch, then soak the quilt to dissolve the Solvy. While I still consider this an excellent idea, I discovered that Ultra Solvy is not the only wash-away stabilizer available from Sulky. I decided to try a new one (to me): Sticky Fabri-Solvy.
This stabilizer is brilliant. It comes on a roll or in a 1-yard package or in 8-1/2″ x 11″ sheets that run through your printer. As the name would suggest, it looks like white fabric (not clear, like Ultra Solvy) and the back is sticky. How wonderful for positioning it onto the quilt layers! And it dissolves in water. Fantastic.
For a cut-away trapunto snowflake, trace the design onto your choice of wash-away stabilizer. I had to divide my snowflake in half and use two sheets of 8-1/2″ x 11″ Sticky Fabri-Solvy to fit. Peel off the backing paper and stick the Fabri-Solvy (or pin the Ultra Solvy) onto your quilt top.
Pin a layer of high-loft batting – the stuffing – under the motif. I have been enjoying good results using wool batting for this layer.
Stitch the two layers together, following the marked design, using water-soluble thread in the needle and regular thread in the bobbin.
From the back, carefully trim the batting close to the stitching so that only the design is “stuffed”.
From this point on, construct the quilt as usual. Layer the quilt top with batting and backing fabric and baste. Quilt by stitching over the same design lines, this time using your choice of quilting thread. For best results, add dense quilting in the background around the motif. This will compress the background and really make the stuffed areas stand out.
Once the quilting is complete, wash or soak the quilt. Not only will the Solvy disappear with the marking lines, but the first layer of water-soluble thread will also dissolve. All that remains will be beautiful embossed designs.
So if you’re not using cutwork to make lacy snowflakes, glittery snowflakes, snowflake quilt blocks, or stained glass snowflakes, you might be using it for quilted snowflakes! Heirloom needlework techniques are all made possible with the magic of wash-away stabilizers. Winter is now over and with it – hopefully – the snow, but we can still enjoy the beauty of fabric snowflakes in our quilting projects.
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