Well, I totally failed at completing any of the projects from the Fat Quarter Fun series as I’ve been trotting about whilly nilly doing totally random stuff (good stuff, just not sewing).
So that I don’t leave a horrid gap in the blog I thought that I’d take you back to (yet another) fabric related work in progress.
This one started last year. In fact I even eluded to it in a UFO post in September of last year. I haven’t really worked on it a huge amount but it’s quite a fascinating thing that I thought that I would tell you a little more about it.
It’s not strictly ‘sewing’ but then I never intended ‘Fabric Friday’ just to be about sewing. I envisaged it to be about making fabrics, or useable/sewable pieces, through the use of fibres and yarns too and in quite a direct way, that’s what I’m doing with Bargello embroidery.
Ok, here’s a quick pick of one of my experiments that I am working on and then I’ll get all chatty about what it actually is.
So what is “Bargello” embroidery?
Well, for a start, it has various other names (flame stitch or Florentine stitch) but simply put it is the application of surface decoration through stitchwork to a ‘mesh’ canvas resulting in a beautifully patterned piece of fabric that can be used in a multitude of ways. In short, it’s embroidery from a geometric pattern.
It has been around for a long time. Original pieces of work that are displayed in museums in Florence (hence one of it’s names) are dated back to the seventeenth century. The Hungarian point style is often also lumped in with this style however it is said that it’s origins differ.
To be honest, no one seems to be sure and the story differs depending on what you are reading. Either way it is a very distinctive and recognizable style and, I’m pleased to say, continues today.
In it’s early days it was used for elaborate furniture coverings from beds to chairs and was of course reserved for the nobility. Through time the pattern has been adopted by many different creative types and in particular in the seventies the colour mixes that could be achieved with this style meant that it was a natural style for the riotous cacophony in fashion breaking out at that time.
Here are two examples of book covers from my collection that date from the mid seventies.
Wow! You’d certainly be noticed in those threads, right?! Also, who thought putting those blue areas there was a good idea?!
As I said before, it’s a fairly easy style to work with. You can start with a basic zig zag and get some amazing results.
Normally it is worked on a “mono” or single weave canvas with interlocking threads that has been stiffened with seize. It looks a little like this.
Like Aida and Evenweave you can get it in various HPI (holes per inch) “mesh”; the one you choose will depend on the intended use and the thread that you are using. A 30 count mesh is obviously very fine however a 3 count mesh would be used for something akin to a rug.
I have used some Aida in some of my experiments and it seems to work OK; you do however get a tighter stitch which can become a little harder to work as you build up the stitches.
Here a couple of examples of zig zag patterns that I have been playing with.
Here’s a super close up of the stitches.
As you can see, the stitches are quite tightly packed, which was good from a design point of view but it did make my fingers ache a little as the design built up.
This next one was done on the mono canvas and was quite easy to work.
The stitches are a little “looser” as you can see here on this close up.
But once fully stitched and pressed, they do cover the canvas well.
Oh, by the way, I’ve mostly been using cross stitch thread or Perle cotton thread but often a tapestry wool is used and this will probably “fill out” the design a little better – I will be on ebay soon, lol!
As I mentioned, the zig zag is a very good place to start as it has the same count for all stitches.
Moving onto something a little more complex and you can see in the next image my Hungarian Point test swatch.
Not sure if you can make it out however this has been worked in four different shades of thread to give it the proper look.
Here is another picture of it.
Ok, that’s slightly better, you can just about make out the four different tones there.
Next is an examples of a slightly more complex design that required the careful counting/stitching of the grid frame before infilling with the various colours.
Moving that idea forward I “flattened” the design by adjusting where the stitches of the frame went in and out in order to get this.
You can probably see there how each colour is being added separately and worked in “rows”.
This is one of those super close ups so that you can see how the stitches are worked.
These examples so far have all used fairly straight lines however with different patterns a more curved design can be achieved, as seen in the next examples.
So, this is all well and good but what can you make from this?
Well, I’ve already mentioned unique soft furnishings, but there are plenty of ideas out there – I think that my favourite, and definitely one on my to do list, is from one of the books in my stash and looks like this!
Wow and Kapow! Lol! I’m definitely going to have a go at that one :)
Anyway, that’s it for this week I’m afraid. Hope to see you next week and I WILL be making time to complete some of these UFOs!
If you have any questions or comments on this post then please feel free to use the comments section below.
Thanks for reading :)