Thursday, October 27, 2016

Saffron Boutis Window Shade

This saffron window shade is the second version of my Parisian rose window boutis. As in the first wall hanging, this one is also framed with free motion quilting.

When I originally designed the pattern, I made two versions of it. One on a white batiste, which became a wall hanging, and the second on this ochre coloured batiste.

Using the same technique of reverse applique for finishing, I framed it with a 1/2 inch brown border before being setting into the background.

Because this piece will be illuminated from behind, to do it justice I felt it should have another section of boutis, where light from the window could work it's magic. I made a smaller version of the same pattern, using only the center  rosette. This was also framed with the brown border.

This done, I felt it needed even more definition so I added another saffron border before placing it into the lighter yellow background fabric which would be finished with machine quilting.

With the top completed, the batting was placed on the wrong side, keeping the areas beneath the boutis free. To keep the batting from shifting during construction, I basted it into place close to the edge of the circle before layering the backing fabric on top.

Keeping the boutis exposed, the backing fabric was centered over the boutis and hand appliqued into place.

The back of the finished window shade, measuring 14" x 25", shows both areas of the boutis exposed.

And here at last with front side up, (below), the completed shade is hanging in a window allowing the light to work it's magic. As you will notice, the lower rosette was stitched onto a different type of cotton batiste. Although the 2 fabrics looked almost identical in colour as I was working with them, the difference in quality became very apparent against the window. The top rosette was stitched on a better quality, finer fabric than the lower rosette. But that having been said, I don't mind the richer, deeper gold that shines through the lower boutis.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Start Me up and Let me Sew

Scrap III: Flower Garden

Having taken Scrap II, "Winging It", as far as I could with that particular set of scraps, it was time to decide on the next stash buster quilt.

Knowing that I would have very limited time for actual sewing throughout the spring and summer, I looked for something quick and easy to stitch together. Although technically Flower Garden is in the category of "unfinished project" as opposed to being from the official scrap stash,  it still helps achieve my goal of stash reduction.

Flower Garden: A sampling of the 4 patch blocks, roughly laid out and set on point.

Back in the winter of 2005, as we were already preparing for our move to France, I decided to participate in one last class with my small quilting group. The pattern for this quilt top is a simple 4 patch block separated by sashing and set on point.

At the time, the 35 - 40 calicoes and small floral prints that I chose for this quilt were all cut into 4" squares. There were hundreds of 4" squares. The 1" beige sashing had also been cut to the different lengths required. And that's as far as I got this quilt in 2005.

In the meantime, my daughter used some of these squares to hand piece a baby quilt when she was pregnant, adding her own creativity and more fabric into the mix.

Choosing to keep to the original intent, I stayed with small florals and pastels,  and divided them into darks, mediums and lights.




Assembly has been very quick. (Thank goodness). Each block consists of four - 4" squares separated by the beige sashing.

4 patch block with sashing

These blocks are then set on point and stitched to each other. It really doesn't get much easier than that.

4 blocks set on point

To date, I have 101 completed Flower Garden blocks, with another 24 that will be stitched by next week Monday. With 61 blocks from "The Scrappler" and 105 blocks from "Winging It", it takes my total stash buster blocks to 291 blocks this year. Next week Monday happens to be the 291st day of the year, (according to my count). So, much to my surprise, I'm still on track to complete 366 blocks this year.

That leaves 75 more blocks to stitch for 2016. Time to choose the next stash buster project.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

The Embroidery of Boutis meets the Great Lakes Region EGA

"The Embroidery of Boutis" is a direct translation of the term, "la Broderie de Boutis". As a quilter, I have thought more in quilt related terms when it comes to boutis, however, as it's name suggests, the French consider boutis more in terms of embroidery. So how very appropriate that a group of embroiderers would be interested in learning more about this French technique.

For about the last 6 months, my attention has been focused on writing a basic instruction manual for boutis and creating kits for a few of my designs.  After I had finished my first cicada needlebook, I wrote some basic instructions for it and asked my friend Karen, (, to "test drive" the pattern and instructions. Karen and I had met on-line a number of years prior to this through our mutual interest in boutis. Not only has she done a beautiful job in recreating the pattern herself, her feedback on the instructions has been extremely helpful for the rewrite and it's final version.  (Well, current version; everything seems to remain a work in progress in my life!)

The final version of the instruction manual for "La Cigale Needle Book".

When Karen showed the members of her local EGA (Embroiderers Guild of America) the completed needle book, there seemed to be interest in learning more about the technique. Eventually, this interest lead to the two of us teaching a class on boutis to some of the members of the Great Lakes Region EGA this past September.

Between the two of us, we spent the greater part of the late spring and summer prepping for this class. Because the class was held near Karen's home, we had all materials shipped to her well before the date of the class. Thanks to Karen's efforts, our kits were beautifully packaged and greeted the participants as they arrived for the class.

Karen even had the kits appropriately wrapped in fleur de lis tissue paper.

Below is the project we used to teach this class. The needle book is first completely stitched by hand, then each channel is individually corded with a cotton yarn.

Completed needle book.

All materials necessary to complete the needle book were included in the kit.

The open needle book.

We began the class by relating a bit about the history of boutis and the importance of symbolism and French culture in it's design. Time constraints didn't allow for much actual stitching, so we focused on outlining and demonstrating the basic principals and techniques specific to boutis. Being pros, these ladies will not have any difficulty completing the pattern on their own time.

Prior to the class starting, Karen, far right, is displaying some of our examples of boutis.

Each kit contained a gift of a lavender sachet, an example of Karen's beautiful handiwork.
Aside from embroidery, quilting and her interest in boutis, Karen also has a finishing business where she finds creative settings for her customers finished embroidery pieces. Her perfection and meticulous workmanship keep her sewing table well supplied with embroidered pieces others have sent her to be finished.

Lavender sachets were included in each kit.

Karen has designed a set of three boutis Christmas ornaments (below) which are available in a kit from her Etsy store. Three of these kits were given away in a draw at the class.

Karen's Christmas ornaments.

My rose window pattern was also packaged into a kit and three of these were given away in the draw as well.

Rose Window Boutis

I used a variation of the same rose window pattern on a red silk dupioni to cover the keepsake box below.  Karen not only finished the box for me, but she also very graciously wrote a set of instructions for it which she will allow me to use in my kit for this pattern.

Silk Rosette Boutis keepsake box.

This "Rose Window" kit and the "Silk Rosette" are not quite ready for sale, but I hope to have them up before long. The cicada kits are ready for sale and currently available by contacting me via email through my blog.

Another project keeping me busy these days is getting a new website up and running along with an Etsy Shop. More on that next time. 

Meeting Karen in person was certainly a highlight of the experience for me. We enjoyed working together and look forward to continuing our on-line collaborations and most of all, our friendship.

Left to right: Karen (averyclaire) and Elizabeth (seamsfrench) after the class.