Friday, 24 December 2010

Bargello Tutorial

Ready to get a CuttingEdgeQuilt-style bargello tutorial??

For the size bargello I did (sorry, I never had a chance to measure it - I estimate that it would fit a single bed), you'll need 20" of 16 different fabrics, plus border, backing, and binding (though I used leftover strips for a scrappy binding).

Pick 16 fabrics and sort them by colour. Can be prints, solids, small or big patterns. I picked half brown and half yellow/orange.

Cut 2.5" strips from each fabric. I'm pretty sure I cut 5 strips per fabric, but since I did my bargello without a plan or pattern, I added sets as I went along...

Lay your strips out in border and align the selvedges on one side (the left in the picture above). Sew the strips into pairs, starting your seam at the left, with the aligned selvedges.

Now sew the pairs of strips together, starting at the other end (where the selvedges are NOT aligned). To save fabric, I held the fabric strip pairs together so that the selvedges on the left were still aligned and then just pinned the other end (where the edges don't align) and started sewing there. That way, the selvedges on one side of all the strips are lined up, but not on the other (see below).

Lastly, I sewed the brown and yellow set together (right sides facing of course) to form a tube that's half brown and half yellow:

To make the joining of all the pieces easier, I worked with two strip tubes at a time. I pressed one one way, the other tube the opposite way (i.e. iron one light colours to dark, the other dark colour to light). Depending on how organized you are, my method will work for you, or you'll need to pin numbers and notes to identify all your strips. I'm much too lazy for that and would rather trouble shoot later than do all the planning work.

Trim the selvedges off one edge of the tubes to straighten out that edge, then start cutting strips off the strip tubes. Cut two strips of the same width at a time from tube 1 (pressedone way), this will be the mirrored strips on each side of your quilt, so they need to be the same width to match seams later! The cut two strips of tube 2 (pressedthe other way) of the same width.

I cut strips between 1" and 3.5" in width. 2" and 2.5" were easiest to work with, gave a nice wave and made the quilt grow quickly. Adding some 1-1.5" and 3-3.5" strip sets in between gives you a pointier (skinny strips) or shallower (wide strips) shape to the curves.

In the picture above, you can see that the bottom 3 strips are laid out with the seams pressed in alternating directions. That's important for matching up seams!

Because I did my first section of this quilt as an experiment, I matched all the seams when joining the strip sets. Big mistake! It looks fine but is a lot of work! I've since been told that you can also offset the strips by half a square (in this case offset by half of 2" (the final width of your 2.5" strips when sewn together)). Instead of ripping open a seam, you cut your strip loop in the middle of one colour. I've never tried this, but I imagine that sewing the strip sets together will be much easier and you don't have to worry about which way seams are pressed since they don't meet!

Here are my sections being sewn together...

I decided on my pattern/layout by turning the strip-loops right side out and arranging them to my liking (bottom of photo below). When I was confident that I liked the pattern, I cut them open at the appropriate seam for a final visual (at this point you can move strips or sew them back together to get a different layout) (see top of photo below).

So eventually you'll have all your strips for each half of the quilt laid out. Number them somehow! Whatever your system is, pins, pins with numbers, pieces of papers pinned on. Know which strip goes on which half of the quilt etc etc. Mind you, I had a few mishaps and they're easy enough to fix - hello seam reipp

Start sewing strips together, matching seams as shown below. Sew into pairs, then pairs of pairs etc. I like to abutt the seams and then pin through them diagonally to catch the raw edge on both sides. I remove the pin when I get to the seam. Watch that seams don't flip over while you're sewing over them - that gets bulky!

I sewed the strips into about 6 large sections (3 on each side of the quilt), then sewed those together to make the big quilt.

One thing I did different on this quilt, were the borders. Instead of attaching them to the center and then basting/quilting, I did it in a quilt-as-you-go style. I did that because of all the seams and the associated stretchiness of the quilt as well as being fed up sewing pieces together and feeling the urge to quilt instead :)

To do this, baste your quilt as you normally would, but leave enough backing and batting around the quilt center to accommodate a border or your choice. I left about 5-6" on all sides.

I then quilted the center right up to the edge. Then I measured the quilt top, cut borders to the right size, pinned them generously (i.e. lots of pins) wrong sides together to the quilt top and sewed through border/top/batting/backing all in one go with my walking foot. It meant that I didn't have to quilt the narrow borders I added and had a nice frame motif on the back. It was more bulk to maneuver through the machine, I have to admit, but I did save me a second set of seams (one to attach the border, the second to quilt them in the ditch or similar.

The borders turned out okay - no major puckers or waviness and it was a lovely feeling to add the borders and be ready for binding, instead of having the whole quilting business still ahead.

I added 3 borders: a narrow brown one, a narrower yellow one and a wide brown one. I added extra quilting to the wide border (the orange floral/leafy print is the back of the quilt):

Now you're ready to bind and label to your liking! If you need help with that, check out my Quilty Tutorial page above!

There you have it, one striking mirrored bargello quilt:

Merry Christmas everyone!


Anne at Film and Thread said...

Great explanation for a stunning quilt! Merry Christmas!

Crispy said...

Ok, I'm in awe of your ability to figure this all out on your own with no set plan or pattern. This is one of my favorite quilts you have made :0)