Feb 11 17

Trapuntoed Ruler Work-Part I



This is the first block in a quilt I’m making that will feature trapuntoed ruler work.  Unfortunately, you won’t be able to appreciate the wonderful effect of the trapunto until I complete the other blocks and sew them together and then get them into that final quilt sandwich.  These early posts about this quilt will really focus on just the ruler work but if you can stick with me over several posts, this will all fall together and make sense.  For now, know that each block is 20 inches square and each block begins with a layer of batting pinned to the wrong side of the block.  There is no backing fabric.


For me, when I’m making mandala-like designs like this, I always mark 8 lines across my quilt block as shown below:



Those marked soap lines will serve as starting/stopping points for ruler work as we “build” this design.  I will be making up all these designs on the fly, and the lines really allow me to maintain symmetry in the final design.  Do you see that piece of green foam in the center?  There is a flat-headed straight pin in the dead center of the block (this is where all those lines intersect), and that foam pin anchor is securing it in place.  I used the large flower template from the PTD Flower Template set to form the base of my ruler work framework.  I’m guessing that you don’t even see a flower in the center part of the finished block, so this is  a good example of how easy it is to use templates for purposes other than the obvious.  Here’s a shot of the center flower as it was setup for stitching.  Notice that there’s a tiny hole in the dead center of the template.  That straight pin is coming up through it and the foam pin anchor holds it in place.  Also notice that I’ve aligned my template so the markings fall over the markings on my fabric block.  You don’t have to do that, but it makes life easier if you do:



Once the flower had been stitched, I switched to the corner marking oval templates by Westalee.  As you can see, I used one of them to create another round of “petal-like” ovoid scallops surrounding the original flower:



Here’s what things looked like once that entire first round was completed:



Next, I wanted to create a 1/4 inch channel , so I used the next size up of the Westalee corner marking ovals and aligned it so the edge fit right up against the stitched line:



I did this all the way around the design.  Next, I wanted a wider channel so I could fill it.  I swapped to the next size up of Westalee corner marking oval but this time I placed it so my stitched line aligned with the marked line inside the oval’s edge, as this would create a 1/2 inch wide channel:



…and here’s what the design looked like at the end of this round:



Starting to look more interesting, n’est pas?  I was itching to do some fill-in work, so I added small featherettes inside the outermost “petals.”  I used a polyester lavender thread for this zone:



…and here’s after the entire zone had been filled:



I moved to that 1/2 inch wide channel next and threw in a single row of pearls using a Floriani gold polyester thread:



This next step is hard to see.  I used a small circle template to create a channel inside the innermost flower shape; this channel tapers at the base of each petal.  This is the stitching being done in turquoise rayon thread below:



…and here’s how it looked after that channel was completed but before it was filled with tiny pearls.  I am still always struck by how much power adding a channel can add to a design:



I then began working on the “bones” of the center-most design.  I used the inside portion of the Handiquilter Arc C ruler to create 4 narrow mellon shapes:



(Notice that I’ve switched to another polyester thread; this time a very light turquoise.   Changing thread colors makes it more fun and interesting, but also helps to create visual “zones.”)  I then used the bump-back feather technique to stitch 4 featherettes, each of which springs from one of those melons.  Here’s a shot as I was still adding them:



…and here is the center-most section once it had been completely filled in:



(Sorry, the colors in that last photo and next photo are way off!)  I then added a circle of channeled crescent shapes around the whole thing:



…and here it is once I’d filled in the “empty space” between the crescents with the fingertips design (magenta rayon thread), and added a row of small pearls inside that innermost channel by the smallest petal shapes (green Floriani polyester thread):




This last photo shows what it looks like at the end, the only addition being the addition of pearls inside the double crescent circle with gold polyester thread:



Once it was done, I cut away the excess batting that falls outside the mandala and here’s what the back looks like at this phase:




We won’t see this block again for awhile, but it was a blast to stitch this out!  Three more to go, and I’ll post those along the way!





  1. Diane Evans Says:

    Finally catching up with your posts, Patsy — these are just beautiful. I wasn’t aware of the Westalee corner marking ovals — I’m headed over to your web site to see if you carry them. They are wonderful!

    So glad you’ve gotten back to some quilting — it’s good for the soul.


  2. Julie Hertel Says:

    Wow! Fabulous work! And your explanation and pictures make it ‘do-able’ Thank you, Patsy.

  3. Linda E in AZ Says:

    Another WOW! Beautiful work. Thanks SO MUCH for walking us through step-by-step! This really does help me think that I could do fancy ruler work since you lay it out so clearly.

  4. Patsy Thompson Designs, Ltd. » Trapuntoed Ruler Work-Part 2A Says:

    […] my trapuntoed ruler work quilt; you can read about creating the first trapuntoed ruler work block by clicking here.  This block began just like before, by subdividing it with 8 soaplines that intersect in the […]