Tips for a Beautiful Bargello

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I love Bargello quilts. The movement and play are delightful, and the pattern just pops when you use the right fabrics. If you have never made a Bargello quilt before, here are ten tips to help you succeed.

  • Choose the right fabrics – Batiks work well due to the variance of colour; tone-on-tone fabrics are good, as well as small print fabrics. Avoid large prints, fabrics with lots of colour variations, and fabrics with a lot of white in the background.
  • Arrange your fabrics by colour values and aim for an even gradation in the value. If you are unsure if a particular fabric will work, lay out your fabrics side by side and take a picture in black and white. The values will be clear and you can rearrange as necessary.
  • Create a reference sheet – once you have decided on your fabric arrangement, numbered each one and cut your strips, take a small snip of each fabric; glue them to a sheet of paper and write the corresponding number.
  • Press your seams well. Flat seams will allow for more accurate cutting of your strip sets.
  • Press your seams according to pattern directions. Usually seams are pressed in alternate directions so they nest nicely when you sew the strips together, but that is not always the case in more complicated Bargello patterns
  • When sewing long strips together, sew each subsequent seam in the opposite direction. Your seams will be more accurate, and you will reduce the chance of your fabric bowing.
  • Use a design wall and pin your strip sets up as you go, so they don’t get mixed up. You may even want to label the strips so if they fall on the floor because your cat was playing with the ends, you will be able to put them back on the design wall in the right place!  (I’m speaking from experience
  • Pay attention to the way you place your strips. It helps to step back from your design wall and look carefully – you may notice you placed one strip upside down!
  • Take a photo with your smart phone once all the stirps are in the correct place on your design wall. You may need to refer to the photo once you start removing strips to sew!
  • When sewing strip sets together, you can manipulate the fabric so the seams nest and match up. This will improve the look of your quilt top, although if your seams are slightly off, that’s okay!

Beautiful Bargello quilts, though look very difficult to make, they are actually quite simple if you just take your time. Don’t be afraid – try making one today!