Wednesday, January 18, 2017

How to Bargello

Our quilt guild at church is always looking for easy patterns to do with the myriad of fabrics we own from our various sources.  Way back a million posts ago I blogged about a retreat I went on where we made a twisted bargello quilt or wall hanging.  I made a wall hanging, which is still not quilted.  The colors were wonderful, someone at the shop pulled together a kit of 20 fabrics based on my color choices of brown and teal.

My fabrics

Twisted Bargello, the top is finished
but that's as far as I got.
I have no problem kitting up patterns using strips that are brightly colored, but sometimes those browns and beiges throw me.  I always end up with a half full bin of things that just don't seem to "go" if you know what I mean.

I wanted an easy quilt but something more than a simple strip set, to challenge the skills of the new quilters without making life TOO difficult.  The aim is to encourage, not discourage.

I put together a small stack of things that I had in the drawer, where I had at least four strips of each fabric.  Here's my pallet.

Start with dark brown, through beige, to light with a blue
print, and end up with the teal/blue on the other end.

Then you make 'twosies' as they say on Fons and Porter... making sure you line up one end of the strip consistently.  The other end may or may not meet, but that doesn't matter.

Once you have all the strips you're using sewn into a set, you cut them apart across the sewn seams,  How big or small you cut them is up to you. 

If you want lots of movement, you cut them different sizes, anywhere from an inch wide to three inches wide for example, with increments of a half inch, and your strips can move from large to small to large to small to -- well, you get it.  That's what was done in my wall hanging.

If you want a very even spread, you cut them the same size as your original strips.  In my case that is what I chose.  It's a beginner's bargello, and I'm trying to make it simple and use it as a teaching tool - Bargello 101.
After the strips are cut (or before if you wish) you sew the two end strips together to make a tube.  Here the dark brown and the dark teal are joined.
Then on one strip, you open the seam between the pieces one strip away from the end color, in either direction.  On another strip, you open the seam two colors away, on another you open the seam three colors away, etc.  Do some in either direction.  A good tip is to number your colors, for example my number one is dark brown, number two is a swirly print that looks like melted chocolate, number three is argyle, number four is a small brown floral, etc.  Then lay them out as you cut them with the strips in numerical order, so those beginning with fabric 1 in the first stack, those beginning with fabric 2 in the second, and so on.
When you sew the strips together, you line up the strips in the order in which you cut them, so the color on the end is always the same as the color one block up (or down) on the strip next to it.  Or the strip ending in color 1 followed by the strip ending in color 2, followed by the strip ending in color 3...  you can start with any strip number, just go up or down from there.
On one end you can see my dark brown in the corner, then the swirly brown, then the argyle.
On the other end of the strip, the dark teal is in the corner, then the dk brown, then the swirly. 
At some point, you will reverse the order to create the peaks that are typical of bargello.

My goal for this kit was to use up strips cut from our existing fabric stash, some of which we don't have a large amount of, and make an attractive quilt at the same time.  We have lots of small floral calicos from the 80's and 90's.  Some of them can be used with patterns we have, but sometimes we have a lot of one print or another, and not a lot to coordinate.

I think we can do some interesting color progressions with this stash, don't you think?  They all look pretty piled up like that.  Why not have a bunch of them in the same quilt?

Wish me on!

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