Search This Blog

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Quilting in Provence

Quilts of Provence by Kathryn Berenson

If you are interested in the history of quiltmaking this is the book for you. This book follows the story of quiltmaking in Provence starting all the way back to the 1400’s.

The most famous type of quilting is corded white work also known in France as “embroidery from within”. This technique, similar to tarupnto (maybe it’s the same), consists of double rows of fine stitching with cotton cording stuffed between to give a raised effect. Beautiful motifs drawn from the rich Provencal countryside, including flowers, birds, animals, were formed using this method. This was most commonly made in white for the wedding bed. It was also done with bright Provencal cottons decorated with flowers and birds. The patterned quilts were usually quilted with a simple grid. Generally, they were both edged with several rows of parallel stitching.

Quilts were not the only items made using this technique. For many years quilted skirts were the height of fashion. Bed hangings, vests, jackets and baby bibs were also very popular. Marseilles needlework was shipped all over the world and had a big influence on American quilting. One interesting fact was that three identical quilts from Provence have been found, one in France, one in USA and one in England.

The most wonderful thing about this book, though, is the gorgeous photography. There are over a hundred full page illustrations and even more smaller ones. Close ups let you examine the intricate stitching. I have spent hours just looking at the pictures.

If you are really ambitious, there are ten projects in the Marseilles style for you to try. The first is a simple bed cover with a diamond grid in the middle and a traditional border consisting of seven rows of parallel stitching. Each pattern after that is more difficult, ending with an incredibly complex wedding quilt, densely quilted with a central motif of a vase of flowers. The corded baby’s bid might be a better one to start with.

Finally, there is a section giving addresses in France where you can see some of the quilts shown in the illustrations. Now I just have to get to France!


Katie said...

You are a great reviewer of quilting publications. I enjoy reading the books through your eyes. You are always informative and positive. This book makes me realize what an extensive art that quilting is and has been for a long time. Thanks for job well done.

Thimbleanna said...

Wow, oh Wowie Wow! I am SO putting this book on my wish list. I always get and Amazon gift cert. for Christmas and this book will be at the top of the list. Thanks for posting it, I would probably have never found it!

meggie said...

I too, love your book reviews.
Before I made quilts, I never noticed them really, but now I watch carefully for all the beds & quilts in TV productions & movies. Amercan films seem to have the most.

atet said...

Ok, that one is going on my interloan requests immediately!

Clare said...

Some of the markets have stalls selling quilts quilted in this way - the stitching is awesome, as are the prices!

Have you got the addresses of where the quilts can be seen?

Ali Honey said...

Isn't it wonderful when you find a book like that which gives you hours and hours of pleasure. I too will note the title and like you I would very much like to visit France.I wonder if I ever will?

Judy said...

OK, my bags are packed, so take me along on your trip to France!
Thanks for another great review!


Jane Ann said...

I'm behind in my blog reading, but this post jumped right out. I am the happy recipient of this very book from my step-daughter for my birthday last week! I fell in love with boutis in Provence and wish I could have brought one home. (Fat chance of ever making one for myself.)

When I opened the book my daughter murmured "Quilts and France. Your favorite things in one book!" I have to go now ... I have a book to read.