Flame Bargello Stitching

close up of flame bargello stitch with title.

Flame is a traditional bargello design. It is made with vertical straight stitches and the points of the flames are made by using differing sizes of steps between the spaces. Learn a basic flame design in this tutorial.

Bargello is a counted thread embroidery technique stitched on canvas. There are different options for materials. The traditional choice is cotton canvas with tapestry wool.

The samples here are stitched on plastic canvas with worsted weight yarn. Plastic canvas makes great three-dimensional projects and it is an economical choice if you just want to try a new technique.

Colour choice

Often bargello is stitched with varying shades of one or two colours in a gradient. This classic design looks beautiful, but feel free to experiment with other colour combinations.

Bright colours with contrast give a modern look. In this sample, I will be using dark green, red and ivory.

If you are looking for different colours of yarn, be sure to ask your knitting friends if they have any leftover pieces you can have. That is a great way to build your stash.

Stitching the base row

Cut the plastic 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 projects as well.

Begin stitching in the centre of the piece. Find the column that is in the middle between the right and left edges. Bring the thread to the front in the middle hole, and take a stitch toward the top over three holes. Leave a long tail on the thread.

first stitch for bargello flame design.

Stitch the same size stitches toward the right side. Each stitch will step down in this pattern:

2, 1, 1, 0, 1, 1, 2

The last stitch will be the bottom of the flame. Now stitch up using the same stitch pattern.

right side of bargello flame row.

There are two different options for making the bargello stitch:

Method One

Always bring the needle up at the bottom of the stitch and take it down at the top.

bargello stitching chart with numbered stitches.

Method Two

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. This option uses less thread.

bargello stitching diagram.

Either of these stitching techniques is fine, so choose the one you like better.

When you get to the end of the piece, weave the end of the yard into the back of the stitches. Then go back and use the tail of the thread to stitch the other way out to the left side of the piece. Use the same step pattern.

base row for bargello flame.

This base row will be used as reference for all the other rows.

Stitching the echo rows

Begin at the left side and stitch the next row directly above the base row. Use a waste knot or hold the tail of the thread so that it is caught in the back of the stitches.

two rows of flame bargello stitch.

Continue stitching echo rows in the same way until you reach the top edge of the piece.

upper part of bargello flame stitch sample.

Then go back to the middle and stitch echo rows in the same direction.


Once the stitching is complete, assemble your project as desired.

Outer edges can be finished with overcast stitch to cover the plastic canvas and give a nice edge.

finished sample of bargello flame stitching.

You’re done!

Bargello looks almost as nice on the back side as it does on the front. You can see on this piece, I used method one for stitching.

reverse side of bargello flame stitch.

Be sure to #epidastudio when you share your projects on social media!


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close up of multi-colour zig zag bargello stitching with title.
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Elizabeth DeCroos - Epida Studio.

Elizabeth DeCroos

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.

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