Patches From the Past
Scraps of Fabric, Sewing & Quilting History

The Look of Broderie Perse Made Easy

There are quilt artists today who still follow the in order to reproduce broderie perse quilts much like those made in the18th and 19th centuries. This involves cutting objects from the fabric leaving a scant border which is then turned under in order to appliqué a printed motif to a large piece of solid cloth. Another common method was to adhere unturned edges with an extremely fine blanket stitch. Usually the background is white or cream colored. Occasionally a decorative stitch is used, but more often women use a slipstitch. Sometimes embroidery is added to enhance the theme. Chintz appliqué done this way is not a project for the unskilled. (See the recommended sites at the end of this page for more on this.)

Present day quilters use broderie perse not only on traditional quilts but also in creating quilts that display an artistic picture. Often in this case broderie perse and traditional appliqué are mixed to create the scene. Other Quillters combine piecing and broderie perse giving yet a different look. Broderie perse displays many new faces today due to the enterprising women who create these quilts.

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It is fun to make quilts like those made in the past but often women of today don't have the time or patience to use the old techniques. Fortunately if one wants to make a quilt with the look of broderie perse innovative quilters have found much quicker methods.

For example, instead of paste one can use fusable webbing to adhere the motifs onto the fabric. If the end result will be a wall hanging using this iron-on material would be adequate to hold the flowers, butterflies, etc. in place. If you are making a bed covering then it would be wise to sew the edges. A very small zigzag stitch with colorless or smoke monofilament on the top and white or cream to match the background on the bottom will do the job. If you want to make it look more like early "broderie perse" you could machine applique the raw edges with tiny blanket stitches.

Judy Severson, author of the book "Flowers in Appliqué", offers techniques to help even beginners create a quilt using broderie perse. She too uses fusible webbing and also teaches how to use rubber stamps as well as pen and ink to make an authentic looking chintz quilt.

© 2001 Judy Anne Johnson Breneman (Do not reproduce this article without permission from the author.)

Recommended Websites:
Applique Stitches in Early American Quilts

Chintz Appliqué History: The Art of Broderie Perse

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