Mallory Hill has been sewing since she was young but didn’t pick it up seriously until she was out of college. After graduation she started working in the fabric and sewing industry, and her passion has grown as she continued to work for various textile companies over the past 10 years. Mallory just re-opened her Etsy shop and started a new blog after taking a few years off. She has two daughters and is currently re-locating back to her home state of Ohio.
Mallory loves the vintage art of Broderie Perse (French for “Persian embroidery”). In Broderie Perse, printed fabric is artfully arranged and embroidered or sewn to create a unique background. Learn all about this technique that swept Europe in the 1600s, including ideas for using modern fabrics to create your own designs.
I’ve always loved fabric and the variety of prints you can find, especially the big, bold florals that were so popular in the past and are gaining a great deal of popularity in modern fabric design as well. A lot of people shy away from these big prints because they are sometimes hard to place or use in certain projects. That’s were Broderie Perse comes in; it’s the perfect technique to combine your big prints in a variety of ways. In this mini quilt I’ve used the large floral motifs from vintage fabric to create a modern looking, beehive-inspired mini quilt.
“Broderie Perse” translates from French to “Persian Embroidery,” and has come to refer to the process of appliquéing chintz flowers and other printed designs onto solid fabrics. This process has been around since the 1600s when these exotic fabrics were very hard to come by; quilters started cutting out the individual motifs and using them in various projects to get the most out of each yard.
Vintage Broderie Perse Samples
The techniques varied over the years. Whole cloth bed coverings started the trend and quilters moved on to framed, medallion style quilts. Once these fabrics were more readily available many people started to use the technique throughout their quilt, sometimes adding a different motif to each square. This technique is a simple way to create big impact on your quilting projects.
Start by picking out your solid background fabric, your main motif fabric and choosing the individual flowers or images that you will use. Prep all of your fabrics by washing, drying and pressing them.
Cut out the motifs, leaving space around all of the edges; you will cut the details later. It’s easiest to create a square (if possible) with a 1” border around the image.
Apply double-sided fusible interfacing to the back of your fabric following the manufacturer’s instructions. I used Pellon’s Wonder Under for my mini quilt.
Once your fabric is fused and cooled (do not remove the paper backing yet) you can begin to cut out the intricate details. Cut all of the tiny details out to make your design pop against the solid background. A small pair of very sharp scissors will help with the small, detailed spaces.
Play around with how you want your final pieces laid out on your solid background. Once you are happy with your layout you can pull the paper backing off the interfacing. Apply each one to your solid background fabric according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Once I was happy with my design I added a simple pieced border. After I added the batting and backing fabric I started quilting. I did a simple stitch-in-the-ditch around the border and free motion quilting around each individual flower to secure each piece and add additional texture.
Once your central motif is placed you can add hand embroidery, a pieced border, machine quilting and any other details to make your quilt come to life.
This technique has endless opportunities so you can let your imagination go wild! Although vintage fabrics often have the motifs traditionally used for Broderie Perse, there are many modern fabrics that have fantastic designs that would make very interesting quilts. Have fun!
Thank you to Julie Silber Quilts for the images of antique Broderie Perse samples.