Friday, October 16, 2015

Quilts of Provence

Many years ago, I purchased this book because I love fabric and I have a particular appreciation for the quilts of Provence or boutis as they are often called.  Boutis is a

Provençal word meaning 'stuffing', describing how two layers of fabric are quilted together with stuffing sandwiched between sections of the design, creating a raised effect.

These quilts whether intact or in pieces, are difficult to find as collectors have been scouring the region for many, many years...  I was telling my friend C. that antique French textiles are like cash to me.  I do not have any antique quilt pieces but I do have some antique flax and linen and their weight and texture remind of the long process women undertook to create essential linens to keep their family warm or to use in the kitchen...

Photos via Kathryn Berenson
This week, Corey brought over her collection of antique quilt fragments and we pieced them together to make cushions for her bed. Needless to say, I was a little humbled by the idea of sewing 18th century fabric.  The stitches, the filling, the fragility of the fabrics and the beauty of the dyes were a treat though.  (I have since read that often, the filling used in many boutis is silk.  This October in Provence is atypically cold and I understand the need for the warm and insulation of silk in bed linens.)
In the end, we made two shams in an Ikat print (back right) , a neck roll (lower front),  a small rectangular envelope of boutis (light blue pillow) with a red print inner pillow and a square pillow with blue and white ticking and on one side and Kelsch, a navy and cream check. Kelsch is a traditional linen from the Alsace region of France. See upper left hand corner of the photo.  The floral blue and red fabric on the right is from a quilt and remains to be sewn into two small pillows.

Corey Amaro via Instagram

There is an informative video about French provencal boutis/quilts with Martha Stewart and Kathryn Berenson, author and collector,  here.


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