Friday, December 17, 2010


In an earlier post this week, I shared photos from a doll quilt exhibit at the International Quilt Study Center and Museum in Lincoln, Nebraska, that I saw last Friday (If you missed that post, scroll down to the Sunday, December 12 entry). I promised to share some photos of another exhibit I saw while there. This one, entitled "Marseille: White Corded Quilting", spotlights the origins and development of the needlework style known as broderie de Marseille—a three-dimensional textile technique that uses needle and thread to reveal patterns through the interplay of light and shadow on the textile surface. The exhibit runs through May 22, 2011, so if you're in the Lincoln area before then, you might want to check it out. My photos do not do these beauties justice, so be sure to click on them for more detail.

You might recognize some of these quilts if you have this beautiful book. I received it from the publisher back in 2007 and was absolutely blown away by the exquisite workmanship behind the quilts. I'd highly recommend it. The author of the book, Kathryn Berenson, is the guest curator for the exhibit.

This following photo is a detail of a bedcover (circa 1830-1850) embellished with clusters of apricots, cherries, grapes, pears, plums, pomegranates, bellflowers, roses, and tulips. It was designed to lay on top of a nuptial bed. The elaborate border features a pearl-trimmed ribbon that springs from an exotic plant on each side. It twines over and under floral and fruit arrangements before ending in a kashmir cone in each corner.

The next three quilts are petassouns (infant lap pieces). These small quilts accompanied infants at christenings and other special social occasions in 19th-century Provence. They were designed to be as practical as they were pretty, serving to protect the mother's pretty dress from any inadvertent baby dribbles! Only about 19 square inches, these petassouns feature sprays of rosemary to symbolize the love surrounding the family's new arrival.

This mid 18th-century vanne (small cover) is made of indienne print cotton bordered with green silk. According to a centuries-old Marseilles tradition, newlyweds placed covers featuring dark green silk on their beds in the hopes of being blessed with good fertility. This particular vanne was found in a box of rags at a Paris flea market in 1994!

I was captivated by this bedcover adorned in exotic motifs inspired by imports from the Far East. Animal, bird, and floral motifs encircle a woman holding a parasol. The patterns were inked by hand and the figures were embroidered in chainstitch, satin stitch, French knots, and couching with cotton yarn.

Made between 1825 and 1840, this exquisite wedding quilt features running stitches that are thirteen per inch. 

Before we left the museum, I stopped by the gift shop and found this entrancing French sewing book. The title is French for Haberdashery: Threads for Sewing, Darning, Knitting, and Embroidery.

One glance inside and I was hooked by the gorgeous images of needlework tools and treasures from the 19th-century French needlework house of Sajou. It's 240 pages of bliss! The book contains more than 800 photos of never-before-photographed antique needlework tools, including 80 pages dedicated to thread cards. There are also gorgeous shots of spools, bobbins, sewing trade cards, and needle packets. 

Wouldn't you love to store your threads on these artful thread cards? If you're like me and see the beauty in these practical needlework tools, you will LOVE this book. I must warn you, though, this little treasure is not cheap, but I thought all the gorgeous photography made it worth the price. Normally Sajou books are all in French but this one is also in English—another good reason to purchase it!

I couldn't resist this little reproduction folding album of 19th-century needlework designs, also from the house of Sajou. I would love to collect more of these little booklets as well as any of the reproduction Sajou needlework items! 

This is what the booklet looks like inside. Now if only I had the time to sit and stitch these elegant patterns of the past!

After visiting the museum, it was on to the area quilt shops. I stopped by three—the Cosmic Cow, Calico House, and The Quilted Kitty. Being a cat lover, I was instantly drawn in by the name of the last shop, pictured below. Originally located in a Victorian home, they recently moved into this new bright and airy location on 6101 South 56th, Suite 6. The employees were very friendly and helpful.

I even got to meet the little muse behind the shop name—Sophie, a beautiful persian. I had a hard time getting her to look up for the camera as she was all snuggled in for a leisurely afternoon nap.


  1. That is called quilting with a French flourish!! Stunning, indeed. And your new books will give you lots of inspiration for new projects!! Thank you, as always, for sharing.

  2. That exhibition must be absolutely breathtaking - A lady gave us a talk at our quilt group some years ago on Boutis and she had a couple of the Petassouns that were exquisite- As if you would let your baby sit and ruin a unique piece of work when your dress can washed quite easily.
    Thanks for sharing.

  3. Aren't those quilts beautiful! It's hard to believe they are so old. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Beautiful quilts. Thanks for the photos. And I must get the Sajou Mercerie book regardless of price. That is right up my alley!

  5. I own the first book and I love it. The second one is new to me and I am excited that you decided to share it and your day with us. Thank you. I am going to check into that book.

  6. Oh wonderful memories, as I have just been there in November and was able to see the French Quilts before the opening and got to hear all about them from Marin who was guiding us through the exhibition.
    We also got to go behind the scenes and see two Baltimore quilts up close as well as the storage for hundreds of wonderful quilts.
    It was wonderful..
    ps. glad I found your blog

  7. So much loveliness in this post!! The quilts are the msot amazing!!

  8. I am looking forward to going to the exhibition in April. I love the book and have had it for some years. Boutis is my passion and I have been teaching it for some time now. I am glad you were able to take such fabulous pictures.

  9. Oh my stars, those all-white quilts ... heavenly! Don't you just marvel at the time and skill it took to make those, and under much less pampered conditions than we stitch today! Also, I just discovered Sajou needlework tools about two weeks ago (through a Martha Pullen catalog). Is it terrible that I am actually considering spending $100 on reproduction mother of pearl scissors? (I'll bet you know just which ones!) So happy to learn more about this firm!


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