Saturday, February 27, 2016

Boutis Cathedral Window: Prep

Prepping, Marking and Basting

Boutis is traditionally worked on a good quality white cotton batiste. A good quality batiste is lightweight, finely woven, and semi sheer. These characteristics make it perfect for boutis.   It has a silky, buttery texture that the needle loves to glide through and makes it easier to obtain tiny stitches. Because of the translucence of the fabric, the black marker lines of the pattern are visible without the use of a light box.
I purchased this particular piece at the Musée La Maison du Boutis in Calvisson, in the south of France, a number of years ago and had been saving it for a special project. 

The design is quite visible underneath the batiste without the use of a light box.

Two equal size pieces of the batiste are cut to accommodate the size of the design allowing a generous border for easy hooping. For the bottom piece, I used a different batiste. It's still just as closely woven, but not quite as fine. Strength is important because a lot of stress is put on the backing fabric during the cording process. For this type of work, the batiste is never pre-washed. This would cause the fabric and the yarn to shrink unevenly when washing the finished piece in the final step.

Before securing the fabric to the tracing surface, it is folded into quarters to mark the center cross hairs. I add a quick basting stitch over these finger pressed lines for better visibility. Next, the batiste is centered over the motif and taped into place, keeping the fabric taut and square. The basted cross hairs are a helpful reference in keeping the piece square at all times. Because I didn't need the light box to trace this pattern, I taped everything to my cutting mat, which allowed me to turn the project to make tracing easier.

The pattern has a sheet of white paper underneath it to make it more visible.

Below are my drawing tools.
Depending on the size of the channels, (traditionally 4mm, but I prefer 1/8"), I use either a metric or an imperial ruler to draw the double lines. Compass and circle template are invaluable because of the many circles in this piece. After a  lot of trial and error using various different marking pens, I have come back to the basic fabric marking mechanical lead pencil. It may be a little harder to wash out at the end of the project, but it gives me the most accurate line and when it's been washed out, it's gone.


Once the tracing is completed, it's ready to be sandwiched. The two pieces are taped to a flat surface, wrong sides together, keeping the traced design on top. At this stage, it's very important that both pieces are square and have the straight of grain running in the same direction. The basted cross hairs help to achieve this. I also mark the straight of grain on each piece.

Although not required, I prefer to cut the bottom piece slightly larger then the top.  Just an old habit from sandwiching quilts!

It's then basted in the same way we would baste a quilt, from the center out, alternating between the lengthwise and crosswise grain. Normally I baste every 2 inches, but I basted this one about 1" - 1 1/2" apart to reduce the risk of shifting the fabrics.


Stitch ready! I'm looking forward to a lovely day of stitching and Netflix tomorrow. Oh yeah, and maybe the "Academy Awards".

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

New Boutis Design: Cathedral Window

For the last number of weeks when I have not been in production mode on my Scrap Buster quilt, or hand stitching one of several boutis projects in process, I have been working on some new quilting and boutis designs.  A new rose window design for boutis is almost ready to be transferred to fabric.

This time the design is inspired by the rose window in the south transept of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.

One of my photos of the south transept rose window of Notre Dame Cathedral.

When I had completed the stitching on this little square of boutis and was looking for a way to finish it,


the idea to combine it with free motion quilting and create a larger wall hanging (below) came as an afterthought.

The boutis is central to this combined machine/boutis wall hanging.

I quite liked this idea and decided to try it again, this time making the window completely into a boutis piece.

Using our photo of Notre Dame Cathedral as the basis for the design, my Autocad enabled husband has made a template that I can use to create my pattern.

In the book, "How to Build a Cathedral", by Malcolm Hislop, Ivy Press, UK 2012 (ISBN: 978-155-267-571-7), I found a tracery image (below, left) of an original sketch for the south rose window. The "Paris Rayonette" style, as it was named because of the radiating lines from the center out, was popularized during the French Gothic period, and became the standard for many French cathedrals. The actual window that was constructed between 1250 - 1270 (below, right), was designed by architect Jean de Chelles and Pierre de Montreuil. It simplified the earlier design from 16 radiating segments, to include only 12 segments in the final build in 1260.

I am referencing the original 1250 tracery because I like it's lacey characteristics.

Both images are of the south rose window of Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris. The image on the left, taken from the book by Malcolm Hislop, shows the original 1250 sketch. The image on the right is from a recent photo of the cathedral and the basis for this design.

Using the autocad drawn version of my photo as the template, I am in the process of creating the design. The first step is to trace the basic lines and create 1/8" (or less) channels. From there, I will add any other detailed design elements that I would like to include in my final pattern.


This is the first of several boutis pieces that will become part of a larger wall hanging.