Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Fabulous Bargello Quilts: An Introduction

We're fascinated by the art of constructing bargello quilts,  made of small squares and rectangles of fabric, which produce intriguing swirls and flame-shaped peaks. This week, we are learning more about bargello quilts and the artists who design and sew them. Today we are featuring well known quilt artist Eldrid Røyset Førde, who lives in Bremanger, an island on the west coast of Norway. She has exhibited her quilts around the world, including Great Britain's National Patchwork Championships, the European Quilt Championships, and the U.S.A.'s Pacific International Quilt Festival.

The Long Serpent,  150 cm x 190 cm by Eldrid Røyset Førde at Kameleon Quilt (Norway)

About Eldrid's stunning "Ormen den Lange"  (The Long Serpent) quilt above, she writes, "This is my second Bargello quilt, which I designed myself. It is machine pieced and machine quilted. It was shown at The National Patchwork Championships at Ascot, Great Britain, and at several places in Norway after that. It has been published in "Popular Patchwork" in 1995 and in Norsk Quilteblad in 1996."

One of the many things we enjoy about this quilt is Eldrid's thoughtful and perfect color selection of yellows, corals, and apricot colorways to perfectly complement the grapes, magentas, and orchids of the background. If you'd love to make this gorgeous quilt, the pattern is available for purchase at Eldrid's Kameleon Quilt website. Eldrid has also written an interesting description of the construction process for this quilt, explaining how she pieced the yellow swirl which comprises the serpent, then the background, all on her design wall first, before sewing.

Blue Borealis, 38 x 48", by Eldrid Røyset Førde at Kameleon Quilt

Eldrid writes, "This quilt was made for my eldest sister when she turned 50. I found some black and white photos from childhood and youth, scanned them, and fixed them up in different ways, then all were converted to a blue color to fit in with the overall plan for the quilt. She had recently moved to Hammerfest in the north of Norway, so I thought the Northern Lights could be a fitting theme for the quilt. I selected the fabrics and worked bargello-style to create the sweep of light."

We are very impressed by the creativity Eldrid displays in constructing the background in long dark strips in order to provide a well-defined contrast for the white curved design that showcases her sister's photos. This pattern is also available for purchase on Eldrid's Kameleon Quilt website.

Bargello Flamme 2,
 22 x 30", by Eldrid Røyset Førde at Kameleon Quilt

An interesting variation on the traditional Bargello pattern, this quilt has solid color spacing between the flame medallions. Therefore, the pattern  looks as if  the medallions are divided into individual blocks, which highlights their colors and their unique shape. Eldrid's downloadable pattern contains instructions for strip-piecing this quilt in two sizes:  a wall hanging 22 x 30 inches, and a large quilt 70 x 82 inches or 80 x 90 inches with a wider border.

"Flame" hand-stitched bargello pillow
by Jonathan Adler

Are you interested in learning more about the history and design process for creating Bargello patterns?  The name "Bargello" refers to a type of needlepoint embroidery consisting of upright flat stitches laid in a mathematical pattern to create motifs. The name originates from a series of chairs found in the Bargello palace in Florence. Bargello patterns are formed when vertical stitches are stepped or offset vertically. The patterns in the steps combined with color changes determines how the overall pattern will emerge. If vertical stitches are stepped down quickly, the design forms sharp points or zig-zags. This type of bargello motif is often known as "flame stitch" as in this hand-embroidered pillow above, designed by Jonathan Adler.

In addition to Bargello embroidery, there are Bargello quilts in which the patterns are constructed with strips of fabric of the same height but different widths.If steps are gradual, then the design will appear to be curved, as in this black and white quilt below seen at a Mennonite auction.

Image credits
The quilts by Eldrid Røyset Førde are shown with the generous permission of the artist.

1 comment:

  1. Bargello quilts can have such a complicated look. I made one of the over and under ones a good while back.


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