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.


  1. What a lovely post and testament to our friendship! Thank you for your kind words. It was wonderful working closely together with you for these past months and I am delighted to have finally met you in person as well! Your design work is exquisite and your finished pieces are amazing! Congrats on a job well done and good luck with your new website and Etsy shop soon to come to fruition!

  2. The cicada is such a great design, and it looks like you put together a lovely set of kits! I can see where all your time has gone. Good luck with the new website!

    1. Thanks. But all of this has put me seriously behind with any actual stitching. Time to get the lead out and get moving on that front.