March 2, 2010

Boutis – a little quilt history

Posted in Techniques and Materials tagged , at 5:13 pm by satinmoon

Boutis is a Provencal word meaning ” stuffing

A request by a customer stirred my memory

and prompted me to do some research

Detail of a white cotton boutis quilt

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.

From Quilter’s muse

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.

To learn the technique

I found reference to one teacher, Marie Yolane

With this sample of her amazing pattern.

and a videos of her techniques, and link to her workshops.

A number of books are available. 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

Designer Stitches

You can get started with fine white cotton, stencils, marking pens and Valdani pearl cotton from Satin Moon.


1 Comment »

  1. […] eventually  to know as  broderie de Marseille , or boutis. […]

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