Trapunto Vs. Stuffed Appliqué

The terms trapunto and stuffed appliqué are often incorrectly used interchangeably. In fact, they are two different techniques. While both require considerable skill, trapunto is the more difficult to execute. Trapunto involves using a looser weave fabric (usually cotton) for the back of the quilt. The maker carefully separates threads of the backing and, with a needle, pushes through cotton batting  to create a three dimensional effect that shows on the front. It is the actual quilting that shows the raised effect.

Stuffed appliqué involves laying down batting under the appliquéd panel. It is the appliquéd part of the quilt that has the raised effect. While this also requires  considerable skill, it is not as difficult as trapunto. Many people refer to any work with three dimensionality as trapunto but that is not the case.

Following are several examples of both techniques

Pots of Flowers Stuffed Appliqué Quilt: Circa 1850

This four block Pots of Flowers quilt is over the top both in terms of design and execution. The flowers; leaves; stems and chain sashing are all heavily stuffed appliqué. Finely detailed embroidery outlines theappliqué. Exuberant does not begin to describe the dense design that is so full it has something of an abstract look.

The quilt has similarities to the work of Baltimore quilt maker known as Designer Three. Her quilts, as well as this piece, are intense in design and paddedappliqué.
Unfortunately, this quilt came only with the background information that it had been in a DuPont Family collection. The place of origin is unknown but it is not much of a stretch to believe that it originated in Baltimore, just south of Delaware.

Condition is excellent which is most unusual with such heavily paddedappliqué. The chain grid has been seen in one of Designer Three's album quilts that sold last year with an asking price of more than $200,000.
Measurements are 100 inches square. Made circa 1850.

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Adam and Eve In the Garden of Eden Quilt: Circa 1830; Vermont

This unique quilt depicting Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden is a folk art masterpiece. It was made in Vermont in the 1830's by a member of the Sinclair family.

The center of the quilt portrays Creation with the sun surrounded by four phases of the moon. Below the center circle is shown Eve picking the forbidden fruit with a snake rearing its threatening head. To the right we see Eve giving the apple to Adam. At the top, Adam and Eve are driven from the Garden of Eden.
An article by Gerald Roy describes in great detail the symbolism of the various elements appliquéd on the quilt. Copies are available to those with serious interest.

In addition to the imaginative telling of the story of Adam and Eve, the quilt is finely executed. It is very well quilted and many of the appliquéd elements are three dimensional.

The quilt has been professionally laundered and conserved and is in excellent condition. Measurements are 87" x 92".

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Princess Feather Quilt with Stuffed Appliqué: Circa 1860; Pennsylvania

This Princess Feather (aka Prince's Feather) quilt has two particularly unusual features. The central motif as well as the centers of the feathers are all stuffed appliqué. Four hearts surround the very center motif. Yellow within the stuffed work appliqués really makes them pop. The other especially distinctive feature is that the feathers terminate in unusual pointed shapes.The quilt is in excellent, unwashed condition. It is nicely quilted with a variety of patterns. Pennsylvania origin; circa 1860. Measurements are 82" x 84".

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Trapunto Center Medallion Quilt: Circa 1860

This original pattern quilt combines several dramatic designs with a trapunto urn of flowers in the center as icing on the cake. The center square is surrounded by the Delectable Mountains pattern.  A bold zig zag pattern outlines that and has a scalloped edge that is unusual for a mid-19th century quilt. The quilt has been professionally laundered and is in immaculate condition. The white triangles inside the center frame are quilted with full and partial wreaths. Measurements to the outer edge of the scallops are 72" x 86". The green is all the same calico with the exception of part of one of the triangle outer borders. Perhaps she ran out of the primary fabric?
The quilt is from Bradford County, Pennsylvania; made  circa 1860.

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Large Trapunto Dresser Scarf: Circa 1830

This is an unusually large trapunto dresser scarf, measuring 31 1/2" x 42" The center is filled with a  double handle lattice basket of flowers. Below the basket are the initials EC.

Framing the basket is a continuous garland of flowers. The trapunto is exquisitely done. The front of the piece is a fine cotton with a looser, more open weave for the backing. The binding is a twill weave. Condition is excellent. Made circa 1830; found in Maryland.

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