Monday, April 27, 2015

Boutis: Playing with Stitches

Le Mireille: "Des études de piqûres" ("A Study of Stitches")

The central motif of "Le Mireille".

Back in July of 2012, while we were still living in the south of France for part of each year, I had the privilege of taking classes in boutis with Madame Francine Born, as well as participating in the local boutis association. All of the women in the group are talented stitchers, skilled in the traditional technique, yet not afraid of allowing creativity a place. Less conventional types of threads and yarns, fabrics and stitches would sometimes be successfully incorporated into their work. Since that time, I have been eager to work on one of Mme. Born's traditional boutis designs, experimenting with the variety of stitches and threads being used by contemporary boutiseusses.

"Le Mireille" is one of Madame Born's traditional designs. In her own class sample (below), she has used several different stitches as well as different weights of thread to add interest and to highlight certain motifs of the design.

A small section of Francine Born's class sample showing several different types of stitches.

In the pattern cover below on the left, she has used coloured cording in the channels instead of the traditional white. The same design on the right is corded with white yarn. To see more of her patterns, check out her website at

The pre-printed pattern (shown below) is 80 x 68 cm (approx. 31 1/2" x 23 1/2") and, as is typical for boutis,  the space is almost entirely covered with the design. If desired, the little bit of empty background space can be completely filled in with corded channels called "vermicelli", as you can see in the above pattern on the left.

Contrary to what the photo shows, the pattern is printed on a white batiste, not cream coloured. (Lighting issues!!!)

The central motif is the place to start the stitching journey.

In my stash are some French stitching magazines that show further ways of applying creativity to boutis, or corded stuffed whitework.

Published in 2002.

Published in 2004.

I have started stitching the piece with the center motif. Using a heavier then normal embroidery thread with the outline stitch (point de tige) requires a little more time and careful attention.

As I proceed with the piece, I will go into more detail on the stitches and threads as I use them.

Purchased in France, these are some of the threads that I will be using in the piece.

Since this is a fairly large piece at 80 x 68 cm, I expect it will take me a long time to complete. Aside from other quilting and stitching, I am also working on my own boutis designs, but I hope to take a little time each day to work at "le Mireille" and have fun playing with the stitches and threads.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Seams French goes Seams Baby

Other then the "Stars and Butterflies" quilt from my last post, the Bernina has been diligently stitching away at many other baby related goodies. Most were made for grandbaby H, but some were also made to be given as gifts to family and friends.

The Bernina at Seams French was not the only one busy stitching before Christmas. During my daughter's pregnancy, hand stitching became a way for her to relax and prepare for the baby's arrival. The first photo shows the quilt that she started hand piecing when she was just weeks into the pregnancy. She machine quilted it and completed the last few rows about a week before baby H arrived. Talk about timing. Because she found the hand piecing very relaxing, when the quilt had been pieced, she spent evenings hand stitching the star fish bunting now hanging on the wall behind the crib.

Baby H has now laid claim to this bright and sunny room. She loves "chattering" to the calico prints in the quilt.

This little cross stitch kitty was something that I had embroidered during my pregnancy with my daughter, (many moons ago). Alas, because it was never stuffed at the time, it never did find it's way into her crib. But now, all these years later, it has finally found it's home.

Pretty kitty keeping watch.

Of the more practical items sewn,  receiving blankets were a priority. Some were sewn with a double layer of flannel, others with only a single. All are in use and appreciated. The stitching frenzy of the past number of months included gifts for family and friends as well.

Some of the blankets had little pockets sewn into them into which a toy or little gift can be tucked.

A little burp cloth matches this blanket.

A knit hat and booties completed this gift.

One of a number of burp cloths made to match the blankets.

A fold up change pad travels easily or stores easily at grams place. I made one for H to take home with her and one for her to use at our place.

I found a cheerful, springy blue laminated fabric to use on the inside for easy clean up.

A heavier blanket, made with cotton and a fleece lining, attaches to the stroller or a car seat.

The Bernina got a lot more mileage then the photos above show, but this is a sampling of what we (Bernina and I) did. With fun fabrics and trims, and fairly simple, quick stitching, I admit that I enjoy sewing for baby and am looking forward to many more Seams Baby projects.