Hey Everyone, welcome back to Technique Tuesday.
This week I am going to talk about how to make a basic Bargello.
What is Bargello?
The definition according to most dictionaries is: ”a needlepoint stitch that produces zigzag lines”. Quilting has adopted this age old technique, originally made with multiple colours of thread, using multiple coloured fabrics to reproduce a similar effect. With this method there is lots of movement within the quilt design due to the contrast of fabrics side by side.
The key to making the Bargello design work is to have a fabric run ranging from very light to dark. Many Bargello quilts are in a monochromatic colour scheme while others are made with a complementary colour scheme. Monochromatic uses only one colour while complementary uses two that are directly opposite each other on the colour wheel.
Here are three of my most popular patterns. All of these use Bargello technique to create a magical three dimensional feel in the flowers:
I find this step is the longest part of the whole quilt building process. After playing with many purple fabrics both from my stash and Simcoe Sew & Quilt I finally decided on a monochromatic colour run of purple. My colour run is only 6 fabrics and ranges from light to dark. Check out my previous blog post on picking fabrics for Bargello quilts.
To make sure I have the fabrics sorted as per value I took a photo and then turned it to black & white to take the colour out. This helps to see what value the fabrics are – light, medium or dark. The key is to have a colour run that moves easily from each fabric to the next but still has enough contrast to see the differences in the value of the fabrics.
Cut strips of each fabric the width that you desire. For this Bargello I cut my strips 1 ½″ by WOF. Then I ended up cutting them in half so they were only 21 inches long. Mark each fabric A – F or more depending on number of fabrics in the run.
Sew the strips together in order from light to dark. Press the seams towards the darkest fabric. My fabric runs are a bit different in that I have put the darkest or the lightest in the middle. This is because I am using them for something specific and will be cutting them up. Normally the lightest fabric would be next to the darkest to have two complete runs of the light to dark.
When sewing the strips together it is okay if they are not all be the same length. This is normal as not all fabrics are manufactured the same length. For more information on sewing strip sets together check out my blog post on this topic.
Create the Bargello Tube
Make a tube with each colour run of fabrics by sewing the two free ends together.
Cutting the Bargello Strips
Turn the tube right side out and lay flat on the cutting mat. Square off the left hand end with your rotary cutter and ruler. I use the Olfa 28mm or 45mm rotary cutter and Omnigrid 8 ½″ x 24″ inch ruler but a 6 ½″ by 12″ would work as well depending on how wide the tube is.
Flip the tube over so the squared off end is on the right hand side of the mat. If you are left handed everything will be reversed.
Cut strips of varying widths along the tube. Make sure to line up the horizontal line of the ruler with the top of the tube and stitching lines to maintain square strips.
Make sure to cut in order as instructed – this ensures that the patterns within the fabrics are maintained and they flow throughout the Bargello.
Opening Up the Strips
If you are following a pattern it will give instructions to open up the strips at specific spots on each strip. Open up by removing the seam with a seam ripper. It will often read “open between fabrics A & B placing fabric B at the top of the design”. You can either follow a pattern which most people do or make up your own which I have done here.
Continue doing this until all the strips have been opened up. When they are laid out in a row a design forms.
Sewing the Strips Together
Sew strip one to strip two, strip three to four and so on. Bargello designs are made by staggering the fabrics either a whole square or half a square. This design I have chose to stagger a half square which means there are no seams to match up – bonus.
Continue sewing all of the strips together until finished. I highly recommend labelling the strips 1 through to whatever to ensure they do not get moved around accidentally. This will prevent having to rip out when the design doesn’t look right.
Speed Sewing Tip: Chain sewing works when the strips have been labelled.
Press all the seams in one direction.
There you have it – a quick tutorial on Bargello. Want to learn more? I’ll be teaching a beginner Bargello class at Country Concessions in Cookstown at the end of the month, May 24 & 31. Hope to see you there.
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