Years ago I did some wool on canvas bargello embroidery creating seat covers for several chairs.
Bargello is done by stitching across a set humber of canvas threads – in this case I’d guess 4 threads – with adjacent stitches stepping down two threads. Also there are different numbers of stitches at different points – three consecutive stitches over the same threads, two, two, one, one, one, one… It’s the changing number of repeat stitches at any level that creates the interesting curved lines characteristic of bargello work.
It’s similar with creating bargello using fabric. Set up a panel from coloured strips, cut new strips of different widths from the panel, sew these strips together systematically staggering the colours to set up a bargello pattern.
Here is my completed bargello block:
Here are two blocks sewn together to make a curved diamond.
Yesterday when I created a test block I wasn’t quite careful enough with my cutting, and my 1/4″ seam allowances weren’t perfect, so the finished panel was just a bit slanted. Instead of doing the same block using my second set of strips, I started a new layout and this time I made sure my ruler didn’t slip while cutting the initial strips, that I matched up my edges precisely when sewing them together, was particularly careful when cutting the panel into different width strips and nested the seam joins when sewing those strips together. My two blocks turned out pretty much the same dimensions (and although the photo doesn’t demonstrate it, this panel is straight).
The other thing I did this time was to add a 10th very dark strip next to my contrast colour. I ran into difficulty nesting the joins yesterday and that was because I had used just 9 strips initially – taking care to press my seams in alternate directions – but when I added in the contrast strip and joined it to the first (creating a tube) I ended up with a pressed seam not paired to another and as a result I was changing nesting direction for just about each join/point while assembling the block. With 10 initial strips I had the right number of seams that when pressed in opposite directions matched up.
Sewing the different width staggered strips together was nearly effortless – the nestings were all just about exact. So in spite of some directions I’d found online calling for an odd number of strips to form the bargello layout, it turns out an even number of initial differently coloured strips makes the later sewing much easier.