Also known as corded quilting; a unique technique whereby only the pattern is quilted. The method was popularised in Renaissance Italy, however it is indigenous to many Asian and middle-eastern countries, and is thought to have been brought to Europe through trade links.

* The top layer of fabric is tacked to an under layer of muslin or other loose weave material. There may or may not be an interlining or padding between. The pattern is then marked onto both sides and each motif is outlined or detailed with two parallel rows of small, neat running stitches

* Once the design has been stitched the detail is padded out using cord, which is inserted into the pattern from the back, i.e. slipped between the two layers of fabric, which from the front creates a raised design.

* Italian quilting cord is firm but fluffy, approx. 6-10 mm diameter and threaded onto a flat needle–small enough to pierce the muslin but not so wide that it tears a hole. The needle is inserted at one end of a stitched section and the cord pulled through to the other end and back out–this is simple enough for a twig or a branch, however for a leaf or wider section, the cord needs to go through as many times as is necessary to create a slightly raised, padded shape that is smooth, soft and even on the surface.

* With top fabrics of satins, silks or textiles with a high sheen, the pattern in relief creates its own shadow and reflection; matte fabrics can also work well, with the design created by the form alone.

* The relief will look its best and the fabric last longer if this work is itself backed with a cotton interlining, such as domette, providing something into which the stitches on the back can bed themselves.

* Italian quilting can be made for cushions, curtains, bedheads, upholstery screens….

* I discovered a pretty evening bag in my grandmother’s drawer when I was child and have since used the design and variations in a couple of works.

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