Skip to main content

Stitching the Boutis Blues

Europe is rich with magnificent historical buildings, many dating back to medieval times and earlier. Spending time exploring some of these amazing architectural structures is always a priority and highlight for me when traveling in Europe. After reading "Pillars of the Earth" by Ken Follett, I became particularly fascinated with cathedrals and living in France for a number of years gave me the opportunity to visit many of them.

Cathedrals provide a huge source of design inspiration for me. From floor to ceiling, inside to out,  they hold a treasure trove of motifs and patterns. I have spent hours photographing and collecting data in these churches and cathedrals and they have become an important resource for me. Rose windows, in particular, fascinate me and have become a recurring theme when I'm making patterns for my boutis. The radiating bars that divide the circular windows into segments easily lend themselves to boutis design.

With the help of my husband and Autocad, we took one of our photos of the "Rose Sud", one of the three rose windows of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris,

and made a simplified template, from which I created my pattern for the boutis rosette.

The initial intent of this project was to do a very traditional white on white boutis.

I started with two of the most basic stitches used in boutis; "point avant" (running stitch) and "point du piqûre" (a tiny backstitch).

To emphasize the arches, I later outlined them using a tiny embroidery stitch. At that point, although the stitching was completed and the piece could have been corded and finished, I wasn't quite ready to let it go.

Adding interesting stitches to boutis is an acceptable form of embellishment, so as taught to me by the ladies in France, I tried my hand at making these "rosettes". As this was my first go at making "rosettes", mine are anything but perfect, even after having remade many of them.

When fire almost destroyed Notre Dame Cathedral last April, much of the world watched with shock and horror. It was a great relief when news came that the rose windows were spared.

However, the white, airy translucence that I had been trying to achieve, no longer seemed appropriate. Even though the centuries old stained glass had been spared, seeing the burned out ruins left behind inspired me to add a dark, smokiness to the piece.

Adding greys and charcoal seemed too dark and overwhelming, so I chose different shades of smoky blue thread to represent the charred remains.

This addition of the blue, however, means that much of the work has to be restitched. Perhaps a (little?) too ambitious, (or nuts?)

A close up of the restitching in progress.

It seems that this little piece is ever evolving, however slowly and steadily,  just as the cathedral itself.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Whole Cloth Quilt Silk: Finished

"Dancing Shamrocks", as I have named her, is finally finished and on the bed.


My hope had been to finish the quilt for our 40th wedding Anniversary, which was March 17th.
2019!

It was in May of 2018 that I was ready to start the machine quilting. By November of that year, the top of the quilt was finished with only the border left to quilt. A 2019 finish seemed quite possible. Unfortunately, unforeseen circumstances put the project on hold from Dec.2018 until October 2019. However, from then until it's finish in April of this year, my sewing machine and I have been best of buds.

Even so, we didn't quite make it for March 17th of this year, our 41st, but came close. The last stitch closing the binding went in on April 24, 2020.


When squaring up so large quilt (94" x 100"), a clean floor is my only option and the parquet flooring gives me great reference points for getting it square. Unfortunately, when I laid it out, setting up for advantageous photo angles didn…

Blocking and Squaring Boutis

The door of her cage has been opened. She is free to fly off and find her destiny.


After many months of hand stitching and then many more months of cording, my little "calibri" is ready to set off on her own. As this was my first attempt at designing so large a boutis piece, it has been a bit of a learning curve. All of the tight swirls, curls and circles are a great deal more difficult and time consuming to cord then are the longer more gentle channels. Maintaining an even tension is absolutely necessary throughout the process, so patience comes in very handy when doing the cording.

Once all of the stitching and cording is complete, the boutis must be washed and squared up. After it is soaked overnight in a basin of water with a mild detergent, it gets rinsed gently in several clear washes, then rolled in a towel to remove the excess water. 


The final step is the blocking process. There are a number of ways to block a boutis piece, but I have found that the easiest metho…

Boutis Gold

A sister project to "Boutis Blues", but with a brighter outlook, "Boutis Gold" represents hope and light. This project will require 8 - 10 of Medallion A, (see below)


and another 6 - 8 of Medallion B. (below)

To create boutis, two layers of a fine white Swiss cotton batiste are stitched together into channels and small closed shapes, and are later corded.


Although traditionally cotton thread is the thread of choice, my preference for detailed stitching like this has become a 50 weight silk thread. (I use Tire thread by Superior. It's available in Canada through Cindy's Threadworks. ) As well as being a pleasure to stitch with, the contrast of gold silk on a bright white background, adds a luminescence not possible with cotton thread.


Most of this project is stitched with a tiny back-stitch, (point d'arriere), one of the most frequently used stitches in boutis. The background filler, which acts almost like a stipple stitch, is a tiny running stitch. It&…