Thursday, May 23, 2013

Beautiful Boutis by Karen Azevedo!

I have featured Karen's work many times on my blog over the past few years.  She is a fabulous long-arm quilter who shares the same passion as I do...antique linens.  She's been working on this delicate little Boutis piece it seems like forever and she finally got it done...woo hoo!  I wanted to share this with all of you as I felt it would be as intriguing and new to you as it has been to me.  Here's Karen's story...thank you Karen!  
Hugs, Cindy :)

Boutis is a nineteenth-century Provencal word with broad definition.  Provencal women used it to refer to the corded or quilted needlework technique for making jupons (petticoats), couvre-lits (large bedcovers), vannes or vanhos (small bedcovers), and petassouns (infant pieces).  Boutis was also the term given to the blunt-nosed needle used to draw cording through narrow channels of stitching.

Also called Marseilles embroidery, it consists of the joining together of two pieces of the same white fabric, using tiny white stitches.  In my piece I used 2 layers of the same batiste fabric.  The motifs are outlined or traced on one of them.  After the tracing and basting of the two pieces of fabric the design is then stitched by hand with running or back stitches.  These motifs are usually inspired by nature or everyday life and the motifs are then padded/stuffed using cotton cord. 

The design choice traditionally was reflective of the type of work that the family engaged in.  Thus, if you owned a winery your piece would perhaps have bunches of grapes on it.  The pieces also have a background pattern of corded channels, sometimes referred to as vermicelli work, usually worked on the diagonal and filled in with cotton cord.

One of the benefits of boutis is that it is reversible when finished.  Also, when held up to the light it is transparent.

The piece that I made is a petassoun which I've been told is a small piece usually given to a new mother at the time of the baby's christening.  It was used to place on the lap of the mother to protect her clothing in case the baby had an "accident".  It would then be washed and laid in the sun of Provence and bleached back to white.  These pieces were usually no bigger than 20" square.

I must say a special thank you to Heather ( for answering all of my questions during the process of making my petassoun.  


Miriam said...

Beautiful work, Karen!!

thank you for sharing Cindy.

Vicki Crooms said...

Beautiful work, and a free French lesson!

Fiona said...


Heather said...

Karen did a wonderful job with her first piece, and I am delighted she enjoyed it. Thanks for mentioning me, I appreciate it