Bargello how to (part 2)

Part 1 is here!

Step 8: Start Cutting Your Curve!

This is where we really get to the nuts and bolts of making your Bargello! If you are like me, and aren’t using the program to guide you on how wide to cut your strips, you’ll probably be making the curve up a bit as you go along.

There are a couple of basic ideas that will help you make a really awesome and dynamic quilt. Basically, the wider you cut strips, the more gradual the curve, and the narrower you cut the strips, the steeper the curve, which give you the ability to make some very interesting sharp points.

Here is my first cut.


I think this is about 1.5″ to 2″ inches wide. It’s still a tube. You’ll do your cutting/unpicking of the seams in a bit.


Cut a few more strips. Yeah, it’s a bit scary, but it’ll turn out nicely. Remember, narrower for a steeper curve, either up or down, and wider for a more gradual curve. Another thing you need to think of is how you want to stagger the strips. You could match seams and move each step a whole piece of fabric down, and that effect is quite lovely, but you will have to match seams through the whole quilt, and as this is my “lazy” quilt piecing method, I don’t do that. Or you could stagger halfway, with the seams of one strip coming only halfway, or to the middle of the next, pictured below.

13645661073_0e25bde478_zI prefer this way because the thought of matching seams throughout this quilt makes my head want to explode.

Here is another cut set next to the first two. I’m moving each fabric up a half block to create the curve. You could move them down a half block to make the slope go down. Also note that these are all still tube. I wait until I have several strips lined up before I do any cutting, in case I change my mind. When that happens, and I decide I want to do different widths of strips, I set these already cut aside to use later and cut whatever I need from the big tube.

13645646873_fa91cf4e11_zHere are a few more strips. I’ve already sewn them together here, but it’s to give you an idea of the curve I’m working on.

13645941394_c6a4fa2ed6_zNow, once you’ve decided on the beginnings of your curve, you’ll no longer want your strips to be tubes! Since we are staggering halfway here, you will either unpick the top seam,

13645987504_21210e64ca_zYour first unpicked seam will be between fabrics 1 and 12. Then, for your next strip, you will cut halfway through a block.


This is cut through fabric 1, for the second strip.

For the third strip, I unpicked the seam between 1 and 2. For the fourth, I cut in the middle of fabric 2, and so on.

After you’ve arranged a few beginning strips to your liking, it’s time for

Step 9: Sewing Your Curve!

You will notice that your first strip, because the seam has been unpicked, there will be a little extra fabric up top that was in the seam allowance. Line up your second strip, the cut strip, up where the original seam was, and not flush with the top of the fabric, otherwise the seams throughout will not line up in the middle. 13645619265_d543dcbb27_z

A word on which way you press your seams. As you can see here, I was stupid, and didn’t pay a bit of attention to which direction my seams were, and so with these first two strips I had to sew against the direction the seams were pressed, which means if I wasn’t careful, my seams would get all twisted and make pressing more difficult.

Speaking of pressing seams, take care. These are easy to stretch and warp out of place, especially the narrower ones.


I’m actually still rotten at pressing seams without any warp or stretch, so I don’t know if I can help with problems there too much. I still need practice.


Here are several more sewed together and pressed. You can see where I am planning ahead, and working on a steep curve with narrow strips.

Step 10: Wine Break

This is necessary. Don’t spill. 13645937114_96668b2a5e_z


Step 11: Continue until done. 😀

There really isn’t much more instruction at this point. You just keep arranging strips until you get a nice curve. Try to do both narrow and wide, slowly moving from one extreme to another, and it should help add some interest to the quilt.

Step 12: Cake. 

I had a birthday during the piecing of this quilt. Yay cake!



Step 13: Some Variations

I tried a few different things with this one, which you can decide to do or not. 14022950163_08fcce1e49_z

One thing I decided to do was break up one of my sharp points with thin (3/4″) strips of black. It’s a really simple addition. All it entailed was just deciding a width of fabric, cutting, and sewing those in. Because these were such narrow strips, instead of piecing each one to the pieced quilt up to that point, I pieced all these thing strips together first and then added this part of the quilt to what I had done so far. It helped me minimize warping and since I didn’t have half the width of the quilt to mess with in the machine, it was a bit easier and quicker.

Another thing I did, which you can see in the picture above, was I created a  bit of a mirror image with the fabric strips. 13999799141_4df27e1903_z

Above are the strips with just the black in between, before I did any mirroring.

14003382394_201427e629_zAnd this one above is in the middle of the process of mirroring. What I did was took my additional tube sets, and instead of cutting just enough strips for this part of the quilt (in this case, there are ten 3/4″ strips that make up this curve, plus the black strips in between. To mirror them, I needed ten more 3/4″ strips. I cut those and set them on top like above, arranging them so that the bottom and the top were mirrored.

Here are all of them, mirrored, but not cut at all. From the tubes set on top, I unpicked seams until they matched what would be showing on the bottom, and unpicked the seams from the strips on the bottom and took off the parts of the strip I needed to discard. For the strips that the halfway point (where I mirrored) was in the middle of a piece of fabric, I didn’t cut it because I didn’t want to create an additional seam – I either took that whole fabric off and used the fabric from the mirror strip in it’s place.



Here is a picture of the strips finished in this way, before I sewed the black onto them.



I apologize for ending on such a confusing note. I didn’t really have a plan for this part of the quilt, I just made it up as I went along until it looked like how I wanted it to.

As of right now, the top of the bargello is completed, except for the border. I have the border in my possession, but not cut. In the next week or so I will add the border and take more photos, hopefully getting some details of the piecing.

Quilting will have to come later. I have quite a queue of projects that need to be quilted, and I don’t have to add too many more without finishing up some other projects.





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