Posts Tagged boutis

Smaller Stitches S’il Vous Plait!

Do you remember when I told you I had joined a Patchwork Group, mainly to improve my French but also to maybe learn some new skills? (if you don’t, it’s here )

Well, for the past two weeks I have been showing the rest of the group how to make one of my hexagonal étui boxes and, as the written instructions are in English, I have been talking them through it in French.  There have been some mistakes made!  Partly because they are so impatient and keep getting ahead of themselves before I have shown them properly how to do it but, partly because I have been making them for so long the things that seem obvious to me,  like not leaving a seam allowance when cutting out the gussets that hold up the sides, aren’t obvious to anybody else.  One poor woman had inserted them but they were so big the box sides opened almost flat.  Of course, I’m sure none of it is due to my command of the French language.

In return I am being taught how to do ’boutis’ and, so far, I have been told off as my stitches aren’t small enough and the ever helpful Michelle kindly pulled all my existing stitches out and suggested I start again.  The indignity of it.  Although I do have trouble with tiny stitches – I don’t know why – I think I have become too reliant on the sewing machine.   I can do them when they are ‘invisible’ such as on my boxes but for quilting purposes and, now boutis, I find it difficult.  Anyway, I will do my homework and see if I can get them smaller and make her proud.

As far as learning more of the language goes……the first week I sat next to the ‘doyenne’ of the group who everybody calls ‘Mamie’ (gran)  – can you imagine doing that in the U.K. and not getting a slap?   Anyway, she is 88, originally Spanish and insisted on talking to me with a knitting needle clamped between her teeth.  I hope I nodded in the right places but I doubt it.  As far as I’m concerned, the most useful word(s)  in French is ‘d’accord’ which sort of means, ‘o.k.’, ‘alright’, ‘oh, I see’ and other things along those lines.  I use it all the time.

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Learning New Things

When I still lived in the U.K. I belonged to a patchwork group which met every week and a whole lot of chatting and oohing an aahing over fabric went on and, sometimes, we even used to make stuff.  I have missed this camaraderie amongst the fat quarters so I have been meaning, for the past 6 years, to join a similar group here in France.  Ironically, given my frequent tirades against La Poste, it was one of the post office clerks who discovered I was a fan and offered to take me along to a local group.  Most of my quilting, I have to say, is done by machine as I have neither the patience nor the teeny tiny stitches to do it by hand but my main reasons for wanting to belong to a group are the opportunity to improve my ‘chatting’ skills in French and because it’s one of the only places still left to me where I can be one of the youngest there! 

one of the younger group members

The level of skill of some of the women there is frightening.  I am hoping to learn some new crafts.

Hardanger

 

Hardanger embroidery or ‘ardanger’ as we say in France (!)  is a form of embroidery traditionally worked with white thread on white even-weave cloth, using both counted thread and drawn thread work techniques.  As somebody who almost checks herself into the nearest institution when attempting cross stitch, I’m not sure this is going to be one for me.

Boutis

What I do fancy, however, although it looks incredibly fiddly and difficult, is boutis.  A  tradition in Southern France, the art of boutis was highly prized in the 17th and 18th centuries. Boutis is embroidery on two sewn cloths, giving printed or plain motifs a raised pattern, and filled inside with a layer of cotton.  Ooer!  Tiny, tiny stitches, fiddly patterns, plain white cloth – bring it on! Well, I’m going to give it a try anyway if only because it is traditional in this area and I feel obliged.  Also, I need something to do ‘à la main’ whilst I am with the group so I might as well give it a go.  It will not be anything as complicated as the above.  Yvette (the head honcho of the group) gave me some patterns to trace.  I did laugh. One of them is a big heart, adorned with flowers and there are two birds in the centre.  As if!  I am going to try a single heart!  I’ll let you know how I get on.

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