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Image - Trapunto Kitty Face Image - Trapunto Title

This idea came from a $70 twelve inch pillow I saw in a boutique at the Mirage Hotel in Las Vegas. It used the same fabric we had, an all over cat pattern, and several of the little cat faces peered out in three dimension from the rest. Being a sew-er, I thought, "I can do that!" Years ago I taught a Trapunto class, doing the sewing by hand, as many people do. These instructions teach you how to do it by machine. If you want to do it by hand, you can follow these directions and substitute a hand stitch.


" Good Quality Thread to blend with outline of area you want to pad
" Good Quality Stuffing
" Muslin
" Darning foot
" Hemostat or blunt tweezers
" Hand Sewing Needle and thread
" T pin, strong pin or needle


  1. Pin a piece of muslin under the area that you want to have raised. Set your machine up for free hand stitching. (Drop feed teeth, take all the pressure off your presser foot [unless you're using a "hopping" foot], and put on a darning foot.) Thread with a color to match the outline you want to stitch, or something to blend.
  2. Take a stitch and pull up the bobbin thread. Hold both thread tails, and with small stitches, go backwards about 1/8" and then go forward. Completely outline the area you want to pad, and reverse about 1/8" to end. Do this for all the areas you want to have raised. Clip all thread tails.
  3. From the back, make a small slit, about 1/2", in the muslin only. With the tweezers or hemostat, pull out a small amount of stuffing and push it into the smallest area, like a point or channel. Continue inserting small amounts of stuffing until you have the whole thing stuffed. Don't stuff it too full, or you'll have the fabric around it quite puckered.
  4. Look at the design from the front. If there are parts that don't have enough stuffing in them, you can use the strong pin or needle to shift the stuffing around by pushing it in from the muslin side and gently moving the stuffing around. Continue this way until you have the design the way you want it.
  5. Using a hand sewing needle and thread, make a quilter's knot in the end of the thread. Stitch from one side of the hole to the other, creating a web to keep the stuffing in. Don't close the hole tightly, because that will also cause puckering of the fabric around your padded area.

Be imaginative with this simple technique! It does work on designs other than cats! Use it in craft projects or wearables.

Another idea is to use one fabric to do the trapunto design with, cut out the design, and applique it to another fabric. You can satin stitch the raw edges to attach it to the background, or leave 1/4" to tuck under the design, and hand applique it to the background.

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