Monday, June 13, 2011

"Boutis" is in the Eye of the Beholder

France, like many other European countries, claims a rich heritage and tradition in "needle arts". Many new sewing techniques and fabrics from the East found their way to France through the port city of Marseilles on the Meditteranean coast. The women from 17th century Marseilles and the lower regions of Provence and Languedoc, became very talented needle workers and were well known for their meticulous workmanship. It is these women that the developed the technique known as "boutis". "Boutis", as I understand it, is two pieces of fabric sewn together in channels, forming patterns. These channels are later threaded with cording, giving relief to the design. True "Boutis" ia always hand sewn, and when held up to the light lets the light pass through. (There are a many terms for "quilting" in France, and each term describes a different type of quilting. I am only beginning to understand the different techniques and terms, and hope that my definition is accurate, if not complete.)

While attending the quilt show in Nantes "Pour L'amour du Fil", I had the privilege to take a course in "Boutis" from M. Hubert Valery, a very talented fibre artist, specializing in this technique.Using only traditional stitching techniques for his pieces, M. Valery creates pieces that have a fresh, contemporary elegance. I have known of, and admired his work for a number of years from his website:, (or type in "Hubert Valeri, boutis" in your browser). When I saw that he was offering a course in "Boutis" at the show, I instantly registered for the course. There are a number of stitches that can be used in making "boutis", however, because this was a "debutant" class (beginner), we focussed on the running stitch. His technique for the running stitch is quite different from the "rock and roll" stitch that all hand quilters try to master. His technique works very well, however, and I hope to be able to adapt it to my "regular" hand quilting once I become a little more comfortable with it.

The photos I have included are of the work we started in class that day. As you can see, I have not made any progress since that day, however, finally being back from 6 weeks of travel, I hope to spend time in the next few months catching up with all things quilt related. Do look up his website for a better understanding of this beautiful quilting technique.


  1. Wow, gorgeous photos! Great post, very informative!

  2. The link for M. Valery is not valid, according to the internet. Do you have another?
    Your blog is so interesting; I'm glad I found you.