Uneven Zig Zag Bargello Stitching

close up of uneven zig zag with title.

Uneven zig zag bargello gives intereste to the basic bargello design by changing the number of steps and down. It is still made with rows of vertical stitches repeated in different colours. Learn how to stitch this bargello design in this tutorial.

Bargello is usually stitched on canvas and there are different options. The traditional option is tapestry canvas with wool.

The sample shown is stitched on plastic canvas with worsted weight yearn. This is a good choice for trying out a new technique because it doesn’t require any special equipment and is an economical option.

Colour choice

In bargello, colour has a huge impact on the overall result. Traditionally, different shades of one colour are used. That is a classic design that looks beautiful, but feel free to play with other colour combinations.

In this sample, I am using a palette that reminds me of spring.

To get yarn, ask knitting friends if they have any leftover odds and ends that you can have. That is a great way to build up a stash of different colours without having to buy whole skeins.

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 also look great on other plastic canvas pieces like cups or boxes.

Begin stitching in the centre of the piece. Find the mid-point column between the right and left sides. Then take a stitch over two spaces in the middle of that column. Leave a long tail on the yarn, so that the stitch uses the middle of the piece of yarn.

In the sample, I used a double piece of yarn because this colour is a lighter weight than the other colours.

first stitch of uneven zig zag bargello design.

Stitch to the right edge of the piece, using the following pattern for the numbers of steps:

down two, up four, down two, up two, down four, up two

There are two different methods for stitching bargello.

Method One

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

bargello stitching chart with numbered stitches.

Method Two

Make the stitches from bottom to top when you are moving “up” the zig zag and from top to bottom when you are moving “down”. This method 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 yarn into the back of the stitches. Then go back and thread the other end of the yarn and stitch the same pattern (in reverse) toward the left side of the piece.

base row uneven zig zag bargello.

I sometimes call this pattern “M &W” because of how it looks.

This is the base row that will be used as reference. The other rows are just echoes of this row.

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.

The stitches in this row are also worked over two spaces.

stitching the second row or uneven zig zag bargello.

The bottom of this row will share the holes with the top of the base row. When stitching, be careful not to pierce the previous stitches with the needle. This will make it difficult if you have to take stitches out.

Continue stitching echo lines in this manner with the colour pattern you choose.

upper half of uneven zig zag bargello sample.

After the top is stitched, stitch the bottom in the same way continuing the pattern.

finished sample of bargello stitching.


After the stitching is complete, finish the piece as you desire.

Any outer edges can be stitched with overcast stitches to leave a clean finish and cover the plastic canvas.

uneven zig zag bargello sample with overcast edges.

You’re done!

One of the nice things about bargello is that it looks almost as neat on the back as it does on the front. You can see that I used method one to stitch this sample.

back side of uneven zig zag bargello stitching.

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


You might also like …

close up of multi-colour zig zag bargello stitching with title.
close up of variable zig zag bargello with title.

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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