Bargello stitching is made up of straight vertical stitches in repeating patterns. Commonly, this is a zig zag pattern with differences in spacing giving variations in the design. But there are many more complex designs beyond zig zag. One common traditional design is made up of diamonds.
This simple repeating diamond design is a great motif for cushions or other home dec projects.
Bargello is stitched on canvas, and there are different options for materials. The samples are stitched with worsted weight yarn on plastic canvas, but the stitching techniques are the same if you use traditional canvas and tapestry wool.
This is a four colour design. The main colour is the background, and the other three colours are accents. If you choose specific colours, this design could look like little flower blossoms.
Stitching the Base Row
Cut the canvas to size for your project. The sample is a 4″ square that can be used as a coaster, but this design would look great on other plastic canvas projects.
Begin in the centre of the piece. Find the mid-point column between the right and left sides of the piece. Take a stitch in the middle of the column over two bars. Leave a long tail on the end of the thread.
There are two different options for stitching the bargello stitches.
The first option is to always bring the needle up at the bottom of the stitch and down at the top of the stitch.
The second option is to take the stitches from bottom to top when you are moving “up” the zig zag and from top to bottom when you are moving “down” the zig zag.
Either or these techniques is fine, so choose the one you like better.
Stitch a zig zag line down five steps and up five steps. When you get to the end of the stitching line, weave the end of the thread into the back of the stitches.
This step is where the diamond design differs from the standard zig zag designs. Instead of echoing out the initial row, stitch a mirror image of the row.
The top stitch of one zig zag line is the bottom stitch of the next.
Repeat out the edge, alternating zig zag lines. You can see the diamond shape forming.
Stitch the same way on the bottom part of the piece.
Depending on the height of the piece, you may have partial diamonds along the top and bottom edge. Beginning in the centre of the piece will help make it symmetrical.
Alternate technique: You can also stitch the diamond grid by stitching diagonal lines. This is especially helpful if you are stitching a very large piece. Either option is fine.
Filling in the diamonds
Once the basic diamond grid is stitched, it is time to do the filling stitches.
First, stitch the base row. This is an echo of the basic zig zag. It consists of three stitches down, then two stitches up.
When you are carrying the thread from one diamond to the next, weave it through the stitches on the back of the piece to avoid having long loose stitches on the back of the piece.
The next echo row will have only three stitches.
The last “row” is made with a single stitch. Using a fun contrasting colour for this spot can add interest to your design.
Once the bargello stitching is complete, you can finish your piece as desired. If you are making a dimensional piece, the seams will join pieces together. Exposed edges can be covered with overcast stitch.
The diamond design doesn’t look as neat on the back as the standard zig zag designs because the threads are carried from diamond to diamond. But it should still look fairly neat.
Weaving the threads under the other stitches instead of just carrying a long thread across will help keep everything secure.
Enjoy stitching with diamond bargello and experimenting with different colour combinations.
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Elizabeth DeCroos is the designer and teacher at Epida Studio. She loves to work in quilting, pojagi and embroidery and teach these techniques to others.
Learn more and get her to speak to your group.