Tricia wrote, “Do you have any knowledge of Broderie Perse appliqué? I heard that it is an old technique using chintz fabric?”

Broderie perse is French for “Persian embroidery” though I don’t know exactly why.

According to the book Art of the Needle: 100 Masterpiece Quilts from the Shelburne Museum by Henry Joyce, European-made chintzes were introduced to America in the 1900s. Chintz fabric cost a pretty penny back then, and quilters made crafty use of it by cutting out motifs, spreading them out in pleasing arrangements, and appliquéing them onto a larger background.

“Chintz fabrics were extremely expensive, and by cutting pieces to appliqué on a quilt, a small amount of costly fabric could be used to provide a design for a much larger surface. Only well-to-do women could afford the fabrics and had the leisure to make chintz appliquéd quilts.”

In our modern times, when I think of broderie perse, I think of Judy Severson.

Judy once gave a lecture at my quilt guild, where she showed us glorious examples of the broderie perse method of appliqué that she is so wonderful at. She told us that one of the secrets for success is to find a perfect match in the color of the background fabric that you’re going to use and the background of the printed motifs that you’re going to cut out.

The noted quilt historian Barbara Brackman wrote about Judy on her blog Material Culture. In the post she also includes information on how to see examples of antique broderie perse quilts on the website of the International Quilt Study Center and Museum.

Christine Maxwell Bonney has a gorgeous slide show over on her blog Garden Cottage Quilts that shows Judy’s work in addition to some historical examples of broderie perse.

Here’s my one foray into the form.

It’s an example in my book Baskets to Appliqué, to show how you can get creative with the designs. I used fusible web, cut the bouquet out, stuck it in a basket, and stitched it with a small machine blanket stitch. Judy, move over! (Not.)

Until next time,
By Kay Mackenzie

Great info on vintage quilts

Filed Under Articles, History | Comments Off on Great info on vintage quilts

Before Christmas, I received a note from Maribeth Keane, Associate Editor of The Collectors Weekly. Maribeth describes this online publication, based in San Francisco, as a resource for anyone interested in antiques, vintage, and collecting.

Maribeth contacted me to let me know that The Collectors Weekly ran an interview with esteemed quilt historian Merikay Waldvogel.

Merikay is a friend of a friend of mine, as is Barbara Brackman, and Bets Ramsey is an old family friend of my husband’s stepmother! Barbara and Bets both figure in the article as well.

Being an internet publication lends the luxury of very comprehensive interviews, and this one (in two parts) is a fabulous in-depth journey into the history of American quiltmaking.

Part 1 (History)

Part 2 (Collecting)

The Collectors Weekly Quilt Page


Until next time,
By Kay Mackenzie

I’m delighted to present this guest post from Barbara Brackman, esteemed quilt historian and author. Barbara has some news to share that is of great interest and excitement to the appliqué enthusiast!

Barbara Brackman

This just in from quilt scholar
Barbara Brackman

Encyclopedia of Applique, first editionTwenty years ago I published my Encyclopedia of Appliqué, which indexed all the appliqué designs I could find before 1970. It’s been out of print for years.

This month, C&T Publishing is bringing out a revised edition. The index will be the same but the introduction is updated.


Applique artists will love having the inspiration that the 1,800 black-and-white drawings provide. Born organizers like me will enjoy seeing all that exuberant design classified and numbered.

Page from Encyclopedia of Applique by Barbara Brackman

Here’s a scan of one of the pages on Reel quilts (they are all numbered 17). I’ve been having fun lately by finding block designs from online auction quilts and making myself digital files with color pictures of actual quilts like the page here. (I am a born organizer so that’s my idea of fun.)

The reel is one of the oldest appliquéd block designs, with examples dated in the early 1830s. It remains popular today. Here are a few quilts made by me and my friends using variations of the pattern.

app-finley.gifOak Leaf and Orange Peel (Bowden Family Quilt) by Bobbi Finley, Williamsburg, Virginia, 2003-2005.

Hip Hop Hickory Leaf by Carol Gilham Jones.gif
Hip Hop Hickory Leaf by Carol Gilham Jones, Lawrence, Kansas, 2007.

Hickory Leaf by Barbara Brackman
Hickory Leaf by Barbara Brackman, Lawrence, Kansas, 2003. Quilted by Lori Kukuk.

Kaw Valley Quilters Guild Opportunity Quilt.gif
Kaw Valley Quilters Guild Opportunity Quilt
by Georgann Eglinski and Roseanne Smith, Lawrence, Kansas 2009. Quilted by Lori Kukuk.

Thank you so much Barbara for sharing this sneak peak with us! The new edition of the Encyclopedia means that not only is it in print again, there’s an updated introduction about the history of appliqué, plus it has color pictures accompanying the black-and-white reference drawings, and, five quilt projects!

You can pre-order your copy at Here’s the link: Encyclopedia of Appliqué on Amazon.

If you have an interest in quilt history and fabric dating, you’ll definitely want to read Barbara’s blog, Material Culture: Information from a Quilt Historian About Quilt Fabric Past and Present.

Until next time,
Quilt Puppy Pubications & Designs