• Motifs are cut from printed fabric such as chintz
  • Applied to a background of any material width
  • Stitches - invisible stitching, open buttonhole or feather stitch
  • Embroidery is to accent certain aspects, e.g. veins on leaves.


Broderie Perse is French for “Persian Embroidery” as it used a Persian style fabric. In earlier times it was called ‘Chintz Appliqué’.

The technique was most popular in Europe in the late 17th, 18th and early 19th centuries following the first imports of painted and later printed cotton chintzes from India. Later printed chintz was made in England and Europe. As the fabric was expensive, cutting motifs and applying them to background fabric enabled larger items to be created. It was also a way of ensuring that each little scrap of this exotic fabric was utilized.

Chintz has clearly defined, separated motifs, that is, trees, flowers, animals and objects, which were cut out and applied onto a plain ground fabric either with paste or stitching using invisible stitching, open buttonhole or feather stitch. There was often with no relationship to scale. The general intention was to create a scene from the motifs, but more often, the decoration was random.

Later in the century the elements were used in a more naturalistic way with the addition of stitchery on the motifs creating more textural qualities e.g. veins on leaves.

The resulting fabric was made into hangings, cushions and bedspreads, either unlined for summer or quilted for winter, and usually saved for show such as on guest beds or special occasions. Because they were kept for best, they were well cared for and preserved and can be seen in museums.


Caulfeild, SFA & Saward, B.C THE DICTIONARY OF NEEDLEWORK, Blaketon Hall, England 1989
Clabburn, Pamela, The Needleworkers' Dictionary, Macmillan, London, 1976

© Valerie Cavill, April 2011