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Rose Window Boutis: Part 2

Framing with a Machine Quilted Finish

A true-to-tradition work of boutis would be constructed using only hand stitching and would not be combined with any other technique. My choice to frame this little 5" x 5" boutis square with machine quilting isn't intended to compromise the traditional, but rather it experiments with combining the two techniques. It makes a labour intensive, traditional technique like boutis more achievable and likely more appealing to the contemporary quilter/embroiderer. But that's a whole other discussion for another day.

So that, by way of introduction, is what became of my little 5" x 5" boutis square. And since the original design for the boutis square was inspired by a rose window,  I decided to make it the focal point of a larger "cathedral tower" wall hanging. (see my previous post).

Below, with the boutis securely appliqued to the centre of the project, the wall hanging has been sandwiched and is ready to be completed with free motion quilting (FMQ).

For most FMQ, I prefer using the open toe free hand embroidery foot. It gives me the greatest visibility in all directions.

Below, the quilting on the front of the rose window has been completed. When designing for FMQ, I try to minimize stops and starts where ever possible. (Tying off and burying threads is very tedious.) The circular design around the boutis was completed with two continuous stitching lines, one inner and one outer.

Front of work

Back of work

When there are a number of long, repeating straight lines in a pattern that is otherwise quilted with free motion, I prefer to use a ruler and stay with the free motion technique rather then toggling back and forth between feed dog movement and free motion. Free motion with a straight edge allows the quilt to be stitched up or down or side to side, without constantly turning the quilt. Shorter lines can be free handed, but for a long continuous line, I find the results with a straight edge are more satisfactory.

For this technique I switch to the transparent plastic quilting foot which is easier to butt up against a plastic straight edge.

The next 2 photos show the completed centre held up against the light. Notice how the boutis is completely exposed, both in the finished front and the back. When held up to the light, boutis will let the light pass through between the corded channels and in this way illuminates the design. It's this play of light and shadow that is the essence of boutis.

The front of the rose window when held up against light.

Back of the rose window

The completed wall hanging, which measures 31" x 16", was quite easy to manoeuvre in my domestic machine, and it certainly quilted up a lot faster than had it been finished by hand. Handwork, of any type, is still my favourite stitching method, and I remain loyal to it. In this case, the hand work and machine work are intended to complement each other without diminishing the merits of either method.


  1. Well, it looks like you actually have the whole thing done, so I hope we won't have to wait too much longer to see it! The balance between the FMQ and boutis looks perfect so far!

    I am interested that you use just a regular ruler with the hopping foot. It doesn't skip over?

    1. You're right, the wall hanging is done and the next post will finish it up.

      This past summer I made a family photo quilt that required a whole lot of straight line stitching around the photos. The thought of doing all of that with the feed dogs and a normal presser foot was exhausting. It was then that I tried this method of free motion with the Omnigrid ruler. Once I got the hang of the timing and the coordination of the ruler against the presser foot, it was smooth sailing. There were about 125 photos of various sizes to stitch around, so I got a lot of practice. I may still be working on the photo quilt if I had not resorted to this method:)

  2. This is amazing. I LOVE that the boutis is not compromised and backed with the quilt...that it is still translucent! Your home machine quilting is exquisite. I don't think I know anyone who can do such lovely quilting on a home machine like you do! Beautiful.

    1. Someday I would love to make a window covering with a small bit of boutis in it. Leaving the back free makes boutis come alive, but for practical purposes, like a needlebook, it isn't always practical. I think both ways are OK.

  3. I think you did a fine job of combining boutis with FMQ. It would take forever to quilt the whole thing by hand. Your machine quilting, and boutis stitching is fantastic!

    1. Thanks Cynthia. You're absolutely right; it would take me forever to hand quilt the whole thing. I am a very slow hand quilter and I might never finish a project in that case.

  4. wow! I don't think I've ever seen this type of work before. I am in awe. great job.

    1. Thanks for your interest Denise. Traditionally, boutis is a corded white work, (similar in some ways to trapunto), whose origins can be traced back to the Provencal and Languedoc areas of France in the mid 18th century. The tradition is still kept very much alive among contemporary needle workers in France.


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