What Is Bargello?

Angie Bates

Also called a Florentine stitch or Hungarian point, Bargello is a type of embroidery which relies on repeating rows of straight stitches arranged in zigzagging lines to create a pattern. Each line of embroidery is normally a different color or shade. Though examples of bargello can be found as far back as the 15th century, this type of embroidery was very popular in the 1970s.

A color wheel, which shows colors that contrast and complement each other, can be helpful when choosing colors for a Bargello.
A color wheel, which shows colors that contrast and complement each other, can be helpful when choosing colors for a Bargello.

Usually sewn on mono needlepoint canvas, bargello can be placed on any type of even weave canvas as well. Mono canvases have single vertical threads of the cloth woven together with the single horizontal threads, creating small holes between threads, which the needle is worked through. Bargello is counted — meaning the threads or holes between the threads are counted — to determine where to start and stop stitching the pattern.

A punch needle can be used for some types of hand-made embroidery.
A punch needle can be used for some types of hand-made embroidery.

Basic bargello is a fairly easy type of embroidery since it only requires the crafter to master one stitch, the straight stitch. The straight stitch is a simple stitch that is made vertically and covers several threads of the fabric, usually four. The next stitch can be place even with the first stitch or offset, a horizontal thread up or down, from the first. Creating these offset stitches produces the zigzag pattern bargello is known for.

In addition to the distinctive pattern, bargello is known for its use of color. Each line in a pattern should be a different color. Colors can be contrasting, meaning they occur at opposite sides of the color wheel, complimentary, or simply varying shades of the same color or hue.

The simplest type of bargello is the row technique. The row technique uses the same pattern every row, so the zigzags are repeated in changing colors throughout the piece. The motif technique is slightly more complicated since it relies on mirroring the pattern to create closed sections. For example, a project done with the motif technique may have a pattern of triangles or of hearts instead of just zigzagged lines.

The most difficult bargello technique to master is the mitered or four-point technique. Four-point bargello builds on the motif technique by creating mirror images of the pattern on four points: to the right and left, as well as above and below, a center point. For example, if a crafter wanted to embroider a flower, the four-point technique would be used. Each petal would be one of the points, or patterns.

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Discussion Comments


I really love the style of bargello, especially when it is used to make geometric, 3D looking shapes. I'm not sure if that's consider true bargello though.

I've seen the pattern used quite often on bargello quilts.

I have to say, I'm not really talented enough to make one on my own, but I've bought a couple from more crafty people and they look lovely on our bed. We have quite a plain room, luckily, so I can get all sorts of vivid patterns to go on my quilts.


I found it difficult to picture what bargello was, but once I did a Google image search, I got it right away. I love that kind of pattern.

Although I think when it is done in green or orange it can look kind of 70's, if it is done in other colors it looks perfectly modern.

I had never thought about this as something I might try in fact, and I might need to get some bargello kits of the internet to give it a go. I find that if I get a kit first, to get the hang of the technique, it makes it that much easier to learn.


My mother has always been really into sewing and embroidery. She was a young adult in the 70's, so of course she got into Bargello! We actually still have a lot of the stuff she did back then. When I was younger, she had some of it framed and she uses it as decoration in her finished basement.

Anyway, I remember my mom saying the actual stitching part of Bargello wasn't that difficult. But she said once that she sometimes had trouble decided what color patterns to use and actually following the pattern. All her stuff looks pretty good though, so she obviously figured it out!

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