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Blocking and Squaring Boutis


The door of her cage has been opened. She is free to fly off and find her destiny.


After many months of hand stitching and then many more months of cording, my little "calibri" is ready to set off on her own. As this was my first attempt at designing so large a boutis piece, it has been a bit of a learning curve. All of the tight swirls, curls and circles are a great deal more difficult and time consuming to cord then are the longer more gentle channels. Maintaining an even tension is absolutely necessary throughout the process, so patience comes in very handy when doing the cording.

Once all of the stitching and cording is complete, the boutis must be washed and squared up. After it is soaked overnight in a basin of water with a mild detergent, it gets rinsed gently in several clear washes, then rolled in a towel to remove the excess water. 

If some of the pencil lines have not disappeared after the inital soaking, it can be soaked again, as often as is necessary.

The final step is the blocking process. There are a number of ways to block a boutis piece, but I have found that the easiest method for me is to place the damp work onto a sheet of styrofoam and with the help of thumbtacks, coax it into it's squared off shape.

Because there has been so much pulling and tugging involved in getting the cording to ease snuggly into all corners of the channels, this final step is crucial. The slack that is visible around the edges was very difficult to avoid. Because the design itself is quite heavily stitched, there will be a great amount of slack around the perimeter of the work where there is no stitching. I am beginning to understand why most boutis wall hangings have the frame butting right up to the work. Something to rethink for my next design. I'm hoping that a professional framer will have some ideas of how to help me solve this problem.


The second of my bird designs is already on the boards, but there are a number of other projects pulling at my shirt tails saying "me first"! But in the meantime, this little "calibri" will get a frame and maybe if I'm very still and silent, she will come back from time to time and tell me of her adventures.

Comments

  1. It's incredible, and that's no exaggeration. Honestly, I never would have noticed the slack, since my eyes couldn't help but be drawn to that beautiful hummingbird.

    I love that you shared what you learned from this experience. It's always comforting to see that women whose work I admire have learning curves just like I do. xoxo

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    Replies
    1. Your comments are very generous and kind. Thank you so much.

      About the learning curve: I don't think that it ever ends, and I'm not sure that I would want it to. I think that it's the constant challenge to improve each item that we create that keeps us all engaged in what we do. Long live the learning curve!

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  2. Long live the learning curve indeed!

    It came out beautifully. I really like how perfect all the lines and circles are -- I think that's something you can achieve with boutis much better than with traditional quilting. A beautiful design, beautifully stitched! I hope you will be able to share it with your friends in France too. Congratulations!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Monica. I think that because of the more defined relief that boutis creates, the lines and "scrolly" have a more dramatic appearance then those same lines and shapes would have in a quilt.

      I do hope to take it along to France the next time we go, so the framing will have accomodate travel. I have a long way to go to catch up to the talents of many of the women from France Boutis, but maybe it's a start.

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  3. Amazing work!! I imagine you had a lot of fun to make the cording of all those swirls... brrr.... but it worth, it's really-really-really beautiful!!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks very much Laucica. Clearly you understand the "fun" of cording all of the swirls and curls, but my next design is, once again, including more of the same. Now that it's done, maybe I'm thinking that it wasn't so bad after all???

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  4. This is absolutely stunning! I love the hummingbird and all the little circles. It must have been very difficult to get the padding just right. Thanks for posting this.

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    1. Hi Cynthia. Thanks for checking in and for your generous comments. You are quite right in assuming that getting the padding even throughout the quilt is very important and not that easy. It did take me a while to work out a method that would be consistant, but the longer I worked at it, the more efficient and consistant the cording became. I have learned a lot from this project which will give me a headstart on the next one. The learning curve continues.

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  5. Exquisite. Absolutely beautiful. How exciting to have completed your own original design! It is incredible. Nice to know it was a learning experience for you during this. You did a lovely piece of art!

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    1. Hi Averyclaire. It's good to hear from you again. I am very happy to have completed the little hummingbird and I'm already looking forward to the next in my series of birds. I've started the design, but will likely rethink the design somewhat after my experience with this one.
      I really appreciate your stopping by and your kind comments.

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  6. This is such a beautiful design ! I love its lightness and elegance. As you say, it is important with boutis to keep the design elements even across the entire piece. Stitching and stuffing cause about 10-15% shrinkage, and so impossible to keep the unworked piece flat. Look forward to seeing your next design in progress !

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    1. Hi Heather. I appreciate your stopping by and your thoughtful comments. It's great to hear from someone else working with boutis. I look forward to further conversations.

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  7. C'est fabuleux. J'ai vu la photo par hasard sur un autre site et je devais la voir en plus gros. Je ne crois pas que j'aurais la patience d'essayer jamais, mais je suis encore jeune, peut-être quand les enfants seront plus grands. C'est vraiment spectaculaire, je croyais au départ que je regardais une image imprimée, et non du tissu et du fil !

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  8. Wow...this looks really amazing!!!! Wonderful work.
    Grit from Germany

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    1. Hi Grit. Thanks for your visit and your kind comments. I look forward to stopping by your blog as well.

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  9. Congratulations! Please, what size is your piece?

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