Home Quilting & Sewing Ideas and Fun Customizing Your Quilts with Unique Broderie Perse Designs

Customizing Your Quilts with Unique Broderie Perse Designs

by Zanne Aroa
A quilt draped over a wooden chair

Broderie Perse is a beautiful and intricate technique that can elevate your quilts to a whole new level. By incorporating this art form into your quilting projects, you can create stunning designs that are truly one-of-a-kind. In this article, we will explore the art of Broderie Perse, learn about its history and key features, discover the essential tools and materials needed, and master the techniques for creating these unique designs. We will also discuss how to incorporate Broderie Perse into your quilts and provide tips for maintaining your treasured creations.

Understanding the Art of Broderie Perse

Broderie Perse, which translates to “Persian embroidery” in French, originated in the 18th century. It is a quilting technique where intricate motifs and designs are cut from fabric and appliqued onto a background fabric, creating a collage-like effect. This technique was popularized during a time when it was difficult to obtain patterned fabric, making it a cost-effective way to add visual interest to quilts.

The art of Broderie Perse is not only a testament to the resourcefulness of quilters in the past, but also a reflection of the cultural exchange that took place during the 18th century. The popularity of imported chintz fabric from India played a significant role in the development of this technique.

History of Broderie Perse

The origins of Broderie Perse are believed to date back to the early 1700s in England. During this period, imported chintz fabric from India became highly sought after. Chintz, a glazed cotton fabric with vibrant and intricate patterns, captured the imagination of quilters and fashion enthusiasts alike.

As chintz fabrics were quite expensive, resourceful quilters would carefully cut out the beautiful motifs from these fabrics and applique them onto plain fabric to create quilts with stunning designs. This technique allowed them to showcase the intricate patterns of the chintz fabric while using it sparingly.

The process of selecting and cutting out motifs from chintz fabric was a meticulous task. Quilters had to carefully consider the placement of each motif to create a cohesive and visually appealing design. This attention to detail and craftsmanship is what makes Broderie Perse quilts truly remarkable.

Broderie Perse quickly gained popularity and became a fashionable trend in quilting during the 18th and 19th centuries. Quiltmakers experimented with different motifs, combining elements from various fabrics to create unique designs. It was a way for them to express their creativity and individuality.

Key Features of Broderie Perse Designs

One of the main features of Broderie Perse designs is the use of large-scale motifs. These motifs are carefully cut out from printed fabric, such as floral patterns or scenic designs, and strategically placed on the quilt. This technique allows for the creation of captivating focal points that draw the eye and tell a story within the quilt.

Another characteristic of Broderie Perse designs is the use of negative space. By surrounding the appliqued motifs with plain fabric or simple backgrounds, the motifs stand out and create a visually pleasing contrast. This negative space can also be used to add additional elements, such as quilting stitches or embroidered details, enhancing the overall design.

Broderie Perse quilts are not only visually stunning but also serve as a historical record of the fabrics and motifs that were popular during the time they were created. Each quilt tells a unique story, reflecting the tastes and preferences of the quiltmaker and the cultural influences of the era.

Today, Broderie Perse continues to be appreciated and practiced by quilters around the world. It is a technique that allows for endless creativity and exploration, as quilters can adapt it to their own style and incorporate modern fabrics and motifs into their designs.

Tools and Materials for Broderie Perse Quilting

Before embarking on your Broderie Perse quilting journey, it’s essential to gather the necessary tools and materials. Having the right supplies will make the process smoother and more enjoyable.

Essential Quilting Tools

To get started with Broderie Perse quilting, you will need a few essential tools. These include:

  • Sharp fabric scissors for cutting out your motifs with precision.
  • A rotary cutter and mat for cutting your background fabric.
  • An applique needle for hand-sewing the motifs onto the quilt.
  • A quilting ruler for measuring and marking your fabric.

Choosing the Right Fabric and Threads

When it comes to selecting fabric for Broderie Perse, the possibilities are endless. You can choose from a variety of printed fabrics, such as florals, paisleys, or even scenic designs. Look for fabrics that have large-scale motifs to create impactful designs.

As for threads, opt for a high-quality thread that matches both your motifs and background fabric. Cotton threads are commonly used in quilting as they are sturdy and easy to work with. Consider using a thread that blends seamlessly with your fabric to achieve a cohesive look.

Techniques for Creating Broderie Perse Designs

Now that you have a good understanding of the history and key features of Broderie Perse, let’s delve into the techniques for creating these stunning designs.

Basic Steps in Broderie Perse

The process of creating a Broderie Perse design involves several steps:

  1. Choose your motifs: Select the motifs you wish to use on your quilt. Look for designs that capture your imagination and align with your overall vision.
  2. Trace and cut: Carefully trace each motif onto paper-backed fusible web and cut them out. This will create a stencil-like template that you can use to transfer the motifs onto your fabric.
  3. Prepare your fabric: Iron the fusible web templates onto the wrong side of your chosen fabrics. Make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for optimal adhesion.
  4. Cut out the motifs: Use your sharp fabric scissors to cut out the motifs along the traced lines.
  5. Arrange and applique: Arrange the motifs on your background fabric until you are satisfied with the composition. Once you have finalized the placement, use an applique needle and matching thread to secure each motif onto the quilt.
  6. Finishing touches: Add any additional details, such as embroidery stitches or quilting, to further enhance your design.

Advanced Techniques for More Complex Designs

If you are feeling confident with the basic steps, you can experiment with more complex Broderie Perse designs. Consider combining different motifs, layering fabrics, or incorporating additional applique techniques to create depth and dimension in your quilts.

Incorporating Broderie Perse into Your Quilts

Now that you have mastered the art of creating Broderie Perse designs, it’s time to explore how to incorporate them into your quilts effectively.

Planning Your Quilt Design

Before you begin quilting, take some time to sketch out your design on paper. Consider the placement and arrangement of your Broderie Perse motifs to create a visually balanced composition. Pay attention to color schemes and fabric choices to ensure harmony within your quilt.

It can be helpful to create a mock-up of your design using fabric scraps or digital tools. This allows you to visualize how your motifs will look when arranged on the quilt and make any necessary adjustments before committing to the final design.

Attaching Broderie Perse Appliques to Your Quilt

When it comes to attaching the Broderie Perse appliques to your quilt, there are several methods you can choose from.

One popular method is hand applique, where you sew the motifs onto the quilt with small, nearly invisible stitches. This technique gives your quilt a traditional and handcrafted look.

If you prefer a more efficient approach, you can use fusible web to adhere the motifs to the background fabric. Simply follow the manufacturer’s instructions for fusing the web to your fabric and then iron the motifs into place. This method is quicker but may not provide the same level of longevity as hand applique.

Tips for Maintaining Your Broderie Perse Quilts

Once you have completed your Broderie Perse quilts, it’s essential to take proper care of them to ensure their longevity and beauty.

Cleaning and Storing Your Quilts

When it comes to cleaning Broderie Perse quilts, gentle care is crucial. Spot cleaning is typically the best approach, using a mild detergent and a soft cloth to gently dab at any stains. Avoid using harsh chemicals or excessive scrubbing, as this can damage the delicate fabric and applique.

When storing your Broderie Perse quilts, keep them in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. Folding them carefully and placing acid-free tissue paper between the folds can help prevent creases and protect the delicate appliques.

Repairing and Restoring Damaged Quilts

If your Broderie Perse quilt becomes damaged or starts to show signs of wear, don’t despair! With proper care and a few restoration techniques, you can bring your quilt back to life.

If an applique becomes loose or detached, carefully stitch it back into place using a fine needle and matching thread. You can reinforce the attachment by sewing around the edges of the motif or creating invisible stitches within the design.

If your quilt has areas of worn fabric or damaged appliques, you can consider patching or replacing the affected sections. Use matching fabric and carefully sew it in place, ensuring that the new piece seamlessly blends with the original design.

By taking the time to repair and restore your Broderie Perse quilts, you can continue to enjoy their beauty for years to come.


Customizing your quilts with unique Broderie Perse designs opens up a world of creativity and allows you to create quilts that are truly extraordinary. From understanding the art and history of Broderie Perse to mastering the techniques for creating these intricate designs, you now have the knowledge and inspiration to embark on your own Broderie Perse quilting journey. Remember to choose the right tools and materials, plan your design carefully, and take proper care of your quilts to ensure their longevity. Now, go forth and create stunning Broderie Perse quilts that will be cherished for generations.

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