Ann’s Boutis Adventure – Part 1

I have long admired quilts from the Provence region of France called boutis. After reviewing The Art of Boutis by Kumiko Nakayama-Geraerts, I really want to learn this style of handwork!  The author makes this technique accessible with clear instructions and illustrations. Do I need to  learn a new skill when I have so many UFOs? No, but just look at that small project on the cover! It is supposed to be a business card holder, but wouldn’t it be a lovely needle book?

The intricate quilting, popular in Southern France since the 17th century, is often done with white thread on white fabric. Provençal prints and toiles were also used. Historically, popular items done in boutis were wedding skirts, later cut up into clothes and gifts for the woman’s babies, and bedding.

Two layers of fabric are basted together and placed in an embroidery hoop. A design is embroidered with common stitches such as the running stitch, backstitch, and stem stitch. Then filler, such as cotton yarn or cotton roving, is inserted between the layers with hand sewing needles. This differs from trapunto in that there are no holes on the back where stuffing is inserted; this makes the work reversible! Ideally, when a boutis is held up to the light, it appears almost transparent except in the opaque, filled areas. After the sewing and stuffing is completed, the project is washed and dried, which is why 100% cotton and not wool (would felt) is used.

Since the top layer is a sheer fabric like batiste, subtle color may be added by incorporating color into the yarn or bottom layer of fabric.


I am excited to start adapting the business card holder to a hand sewing needle book. So far I have only had time to research and gather (buy) my supplies. I do love to research and gather! Maybe that is one reason for my Quilt Project Attention Deficit Disorder. Hmmm…

Anyway, here are some things I will need: 100% cotton white yarn, 100% cotton batiste, doll needles, white quilting thread, and a bamboo stiletto. Not shown but important are: Art of Boutis book; Quilter’s Candy Basics 3956 Solid White (for the bottom layer); tapestry needles; and my favorite  7″ embroidery hoop, Black Gold Appliqué Sharps thimble, and scissors.

Next, I want to make the charming heart-shaped pillow that could later be used as ring pillow for a wedding. The Art of Boutis has so many ideas for clothing, bags, and home décor, I am sure anyone wanting to try this artistic needlework would find something to inspire them!

P.S. I would love to hear from anyone who is familiar with boutis – its history or types of quilted pieces – and especially advice from someone who has experience with this type of handwork!


  1. Alisha - May 29, 2014

    This probably isn’t all that surprising, but this is my most favorite style! Great review of this book, Ann. I am really looking forward to seeing your needle book.

  2. Amanda Best - May 30, 2014

    So beautiful! Good luck with it, Ann! I am sure you will do wonderfully with it.

  3. Seymour - October 20, 2014

    Piece of writing writing is also a excitement, if you be familiar with after that you can write or else it is difficult to write.

  4. Marion - March 1, 2016

    Can you tell me, please, where I can purchase the Percale or 100% cotton fabric. I was given this book for Christmas but cannot get started. I live in the U.K. Many thanks ????

  5. Marion - March 4, 2016

    Where did you obtain your supplies, please. I live in the U.K. Thanks

    • Ann - March 7, 2016

      Marion – Since we now ship to the U.K., you can obtain some of the supplies from us: Quilter’s Candy Basics 3956 Solid White (for the bottom layer), 7″ embroidery hoop, Black Gold Appliqué Sharps, stiletto, thimble, and scissors – please see links above. The Art of Boutis book, 100% cotton batiste (used for smocking), doll needles, tapestry needles, and 100% cotton yarn (for knitting dish clothes) are all available on if you cannot find them at a local fabric or quilt shop. Hope you can find everything! I would love to see a picture of anything you make.