March 2, 2010
Boutis – a little quilt history
Boutis is a Provencal word meaning ” stuffing
A request by a customer stirred my memory
and prompted me to do some research
“French quilted needleworks are no recent discovery, they have almost always existed. They consist of a layer of cotton, wool or silk batting covered on both sides with layers of plain or printed fabric, held together by a quilting representing specific motifs.” Boutis are always reversible.
The outline stitching is not difficult, like basic hand quilting, but it is quite hard to stuff the motifs. This is done on the reverse with a double thickness of four-ply cotton yarn, trimmed closely, then the ends stuffed into the motif with a tool.
Traditionally the stuffing was made with cord and thin strips of cotton batting.
Visit Atelier Rebecca to see an contemporary french artist at work
The motifs in a boutis are symbols: animals, flowers, fruits, hearts, but also cornucopia, oak leaves, various religious symbols.
Today, it is very fashionable to make a boutis.
Many boutis items are made for babies. Small christening caps, and elaborate embroidered, corded, and/or stuffed boutis are traditionally placed on the laps of godparents when the baby is being held on christening day.
Although purchasing a ready made item
or at least a kit may be more realistic for busy grandmothers
Ready made contemporary cotton home decor
or elegant silk are also available.
I found reference to one teacher, Marie Yolane
With this sample of her amazing pattern.
A number of books are available.
Amazon.ca has quite a selection of books.
I also found this lovely French book
with a Google image search .
I can , and have in the past , ordered lovely Australian shadow trapunto kits from
You can get started with fine white cotton, stencils, marking pens and Valdani pearl cotton from Satin Moon.