Fabric-usually lustrous, silk, satin, shantung, also fine linen, polished cotton Design-flowing parallel lines worked in running stitch, back stitch or machine Traditional work did not have other embroidery stitches Padding-cord, wool or wool tops, between parallel lines creating a raised surface| Thread-cotton or linen, same or contrast colour Quilting or trapunto is often used in association.



The word ‘quilt’ means a stuffed sack, mattress or cushion from the Latin ‘culcita’.

Despite its name, Italian Quilting did not develop solely in Italy. Corded quilting is found in artifacts from many Asian and Middle Eastern countries. Throughout the 17th C and well into the 18th C the technique was widely practised throughout Europe and was highly fashionable

Italian quilting was introduced to Italy during the Renaissance as a direct result of the trade in rich silks and satins, so the fabrics and technique are closely associated. The visual appeal of quilting is enhanced by lustrous fabrics but linens, polished cottons and fine wool are also used.

Very large quilts and hangings were fashionable as furnishings in the last half of 17th C. and early 18th C. as well as waistcoats, jackets, undergarments, particularly petticoats, dressing gowns, and caps.
The whole effect is a flowing continuous movement. Many traditional designs are based on geometric lines involving beautiful interlaced patterns, flower arrangements and naturalistic figures in domestic scenes

Today, the design can be worked by hand or machine. Twin needles of a sewing machine can be used to create parallel lines of stitching quickly and efficiently.

Although usually worked with two layers of fabric, the technique can be worked with one layer with the design on the top layer. Once in a frame, one hand holds the cord in place under the fabric while the other hand works herringbone stitch across the parallel lines of design. Finished piece is usually lined.

*Trapunto has two layers of fabric with just one line of stitching forming a design shape.The fabric is slit on the back and wadding inserted.


Colby, Averil, Quilting, Batsford, London, 1987
Poe, Ann, Quilting School: Complete Guide to Patchwork and Quilting, Readers' Digest, New York 1993
The Batsford Encyclopedia of Embroidery Techniques, Batsford, London, 1984
Weldon's Encyclopedia of Needlework, The Waverly Book Co, London.

© Valerie Cavill 2008