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.
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.
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.