Simply put, broderie perse is an applique technique where one cuts a pattern from one piece of cloth and appliques it to another. It originated a few centuries ago when women cut patterns from elaborately printed cottons, most of which came from India at the time, and sewed these onto whole cloths that were used as bedspreads. Some of the bedspreads were quilted, some where not. A good write up of the history behind this technique, complete with an explanation of the economics and politics behind the creation of this technique can be found here. Funny how market-driven greed can result in a whole new form of art and craft!
One of my all-time favorite quilt experts, Barbara Brackman, has a post on her blog with some pictures of gorgeous examples.
On my first try at this technique, I used some printed cotton fabric I found at Hancock Fabric. I fused a sheet of Fuse and Fix onto the back of the printed fabric, cut out the bouquets, peeled the backing off the Fuse and Fix and laid them down on a fat-quarter of quilter's cotton. I love the Fuse and Fix products because you can experiment with arrangement before finalizing the pattern with sewing. I used my machine's blanket stitch, the "double" one where the machine over-sews the blanket stitch a second time to add some texture along with extra strength. I reduced the stitch length and used a variegated King Tut quilting thread to give some added interest to the "framing" blanket stitch.
This is another UFO sitting up in my sewing room! I plan to add a ruffle from the same fabric from which I got the bouquets and make a pillow as the final result.
For me, the broderie perse technique is a fast and easy way to applique something special. On Barbara's blog, there is a photo of a piece that combined both broderie perse and conventional applique into a masterpiece of a quilt.
I'm planning on going up to McKinney, TX to one of my favorite quilt shops with a good friend tomorrow and will be specifically looking out for fabric that will be perfect for broderie perse!