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Flight – An experiment with a Bargello Quilt

Posted on: 26 February 2010

In the fall of 2007, I was asked by our local quilt guild program committee to teach a Bargello class in May 2008.   My goal was that anyone can do a bargello!  So I created a class called “If I can do a Bargello, you can too!”

The technique I used was inspired by Blue Meadow Designs – Cori and Myra.  They had done a quilt called Rhapsody in a McCall’s Quilting Magazine  April 2007.  My first Bargello, which is in the header on my blog was made using their design.  Although I did change-up my colours a little, to make mine blend more.  Back to the class.

I wanted to have the guild members spread their wings a bit, and design their own bargello, so I did a lot of reading and looking up all about Bargello quilts.  I even think I have a page with links somewhere here on my blog.   Some members didn’t like this idea… they just wanted to follow the pattern… umm… there is (was) no pattern).

Bargello designs on graph paper.

The above photo represents the two final designs I had chosen.   You start with a simple curved line, and then shade it in using the squares to represent your design and the fabric.  I decided on the bottom design for the quilt.  In my design, one square was equal to one inch.  I marked the grid so I could easily find measurements.   Perhaps now that I have this second one finished, maybe I’ll think about making a larger one, with a more complex design… hmmm… not yet, got some other things going that need to be done first.  Oh, the ideas that are swirling around right now.

So I played with my own designs, and in doing so, somewhere along the line, my eldest daughter asked if I was making it for her, so I asked her what colours.  Pink, Purple and Lime Green.   Well, this was going to take a little, as I had no pink what so ever in my stash.  So I spent a few months gathering some pink fabrics.

When you are choosing fabrics for a bargello,  it is a good idea to have a larger selection than you expect.  Some colours and values may not quite work like you expect.   And yup, you guessed it, I used the B&W setting on my camera and took some shots.

First arrange the fabrics in the strata you think will work.  Then take a photo.

First selection of fabrics

Sometimes cutting one strip of the fabrics and taking a photo will help clarify the colour way.

Final selection of fabrics cut into strips.

The method I used is the “tube” method to create the segments.   You sew your strips together.  Then sew them together into a tube… the one on the far left to the one on the far right.

Tube Segment, before unsewing.

Then using your design, you cut your strips based on the design.   You may want to number your fabrics, so as you cut, you can then unsew the connecting pieces based on the design to create the one-up, one down curve.  For example strip #1 would have piece #1 at the top.  Strip #2 would have piece #2 at top, and piece #1 at the bottom.  You then stitch the segments to the next segment.  It is important to keep organized here, as you wouldn’t want to sew strip #1 to strip #3.

Strip sets laid out

Depending on the size of your quilt, and how the design works out, you may need to unsew some of the extra strips, and fill in gaps. So all your strips are the same length.

Segments stitched together.

Some bargellos are made where the seams are aligned… this can be difficult, and may require a lot of pinning.  I chose to offset the seams, and it worked really well.

One of my biggest challenges with making quilts is trying to find a quilting design.   The movement of this quilt makes me think of “flight”, and that is what I wanted to use.  I had actually quilted some of it, and did not like it at all, and took it out.  A friend of mine suggested I bring it over, and she suggested using butterflies, and such.  Ah ha!   My DD#1 likes dragonflies… so I added a few of those, and a ladybug or two as well.

And here is the finished quilt.

And I had to include a couple close-ups of the quilting.

The above photos shows a dragonfly in the corner of the inside border.  In the outer border, I tried something I hadn’t done before.  Twin needle stitching using a decorative stitch, and two shades of a purple thread.

Here is the detail of a butterfly with a few “loop-de-loops”.

Woohoo!  I can cross another one off of my List of 10.    And just as an update – the circle play is currently being quilted.  I’m having fun with this one too.

Ohh… and I thought I’d share a photo of our not so small any more kittens.  Smudge and Thunder.

Smudge is in the foreground  Thunder is laying on top of her in the background.  He is completely black except three white whiskers on the left side.  We’ve had them for about 6 months now, and this is a rare moment that they are actually in one place.


12 Responses to "Flight – An experiment with a Bargello Quilt"

I’ve always wanted to try a Bargello quilt. Will have to keep it in mind. Once I saw a Bargello pattern in a magazine that I really liked but have never found it again. It goes together and looks like the faces of cats. It was really neat and I wish I knew where I had seen it. Oh well, I do have a bunch of things to work on and more ideas when those are finished.


That’s fantastic Alice. It’s been really good to see the process which seems achieveable – I always thought bargello were secret quilters’ business. I love your quilting – the dragonfly and the twin thread. It has worked so well. Gorgeous puddy-tats! Ann 🙂

“Smudge” and “Thunder”….what great names for cats!!! I love it;)
As for the bargello quilts…never made one….yet;) I really like the way you are going about deciding on what/how to make them. And to think this is all “women’s work”….LOL. Oh, the geometry and mathmatics of it all;)
Happy Quilting!!

I’ve seen some wonderful bargello quilts and thought “never will I figure THAT out” but you’ve made it seem simple. Hmmm… Your kitties are adorable! I know what you mean about kittens not sitting still, but they’re tons of fun at that age, too.

Love your Bargello’s. Actually, I was considering trying one myself from the leftover ties. Something like a mountain landscape. Blue/white for the sky, purple/green/gold for the mountains, maybe a dark blue waterfall. Ah, geez, Ann, you’ve got my mind doing somersaults.

Oops, sorry Alice.

Great work!! I love the soft colors in this one and always find it interesting how you use black and white photos to figure out the values/shades. Smudge and Thunder are so cute!! I’m sure this isn’t the last time we’ll see them 😉 Christine

Thanks for the peak at how to construct a bargello. I’ve wondered about them. I’m sure your daughter loves this quilt – very pretty. Cute kitties too!

Oops, peek, not peak!

Wonderful job on the tutorial, Alice. I have to admit that I have guessed at the design and construction a few times, but had dismissed it as way too advanced for this quilter. But you’ve brought it down to basics and now it’s a possibility. Thanks! Mary

What a wonderful explanation of all that goes into bargellos! You are a great teacher! My only experience there was my American flag, which turned out far from perfect, but I love it anyway.

Sorry to be so late commenting; it’s been a very busy two weeks, but I’ve tried to watch as much of the Olympics as possible. By the way, Canada did a great job as the host!! Your skaters and others were wonderful, and I guess I’d have to say so is your hockey team, darn it! The closing ceremony has been terrific tonight! Now…what will I watch next week? I’ll miss the Olympics! — Maybe I’ll get more quilting done, you think? —“Love”

Dropping in to see if I can leave a comment here in wordpress. Blogger is still not letting me in. Feel free to delete this if it works.
Thanks for your understanding;)
Happy Quilting!!

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February 2010
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