Textile Embellishments: Italian Quilting Posted in: Process – Tags: , , , , , ,

Textile Embellishments

Italian Quilting

Before I talk about the technique I’ve developed for my bags, Italian Quilting I’m going to tell you a bit about where my love of textiles came from. I became familiar with the textile embellishments Italian Quilting and Trapunto when I was a student at Middlesex University. I would spend hours in the library devouring two books in particular, Lanvin and Geoffrey Beene. They both used trapunto quilting on their creations and Beene was obviously influenced by the French Atelier. However, the links between Beene and Lanvin were somehow lost to me until I started following Alber Elbaz when he took over at Lanvin in 2001. He had been Beene’s assistant for 6 years, from 1988-1994, and I loved his style. It seemed serendipitous that my favourite contemporary designer worked for both of my favourite designers from the past.


The Trapunto stitch, a technique similar to quilting, involves the sandwiching of cotton batting between two layers of fabric. Additional body is given to the fabric by stitching narrow rows, typically one-quarter inch or the width of a sewing machine presser foot, over the entire piece of fabric, or only to specific pattern pieces prior to garment construction. I’ve used this technique on a number of garments that I’ve made for myself. It works brilliantly on collars, cuffs and waistbands.


The Trapunto technique was used in the mid 1920s

but enjoyed great success in the 1930’s

when beading and embroidery went out of fashion


My love of Trapunto led me to develop the technique I use for my bags. Traditionally referred to as Corded quilting it is thought to have originated in Italy hence the name I know it by, Italian quilting. It is simply a decorative effect, achieved using two layers of fabric and a cord channel. It is sometimes used alongside trapunto. The backing fabric is muslin or any other open weave fabric. The basic principle of corded quilting is to machine (or hand stitch) parallel lines to form a channel through which cord or quilting wool is threaded. In its simplest form, corded quilting could be used to create a new fabric. Simple, parallel lines can be stitched in one direction. This is then threaded with the quilting wool or cord, using a blunt needle. Parallel lines of stitching are added in the opposite direction and these are corded as before, bringing the wool out where the channels cross and back into the next bit of channel.


   My method is a hybrid of traditional

Italian Quilting


My cording method is built up on flat sections of canvas with a leather overlay. It’s very time consuming and a little unpredictable.  I first began experimenting with this method when I customised a coat back in 2010. It was far too long so I trimmed the bottom and created epaulettes. The shapes formed the basis of my brand identity. When I first started prototyping the bags I originally used cotton rope to create the distinctive ridges on my bags. I found it too heavy and prone to bulking up in the bag seams, but after discovering Extruded rubber I haven’t looked back. What the hell’s extruded rubber, you may well be asking. “Extrusions are parts forced through a die of the required cross section under pressure of an extrusion machine or extruder”. In other words it’s similar to squeezing toothpaste out of a tube. I love it as It’s light and stretchy and creates smooth ridges, unlike the rope. With a combination of clever pattern cutting alongside hidden seaming, our Percivale bags look like they have been molded into shape. Shop the Core Percivale in Cognac here

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