Modern Bargello Quilt


Hi everyone!   It’s Andrea from Urban Quiltworks.   I have always admired the look of bargello and watercolour style quilts. When I saw the range of colours and values in this Zen Chic Figures line, I knew a simple bargello design would really show off the colours of this fabric line!   To add some interest,  I decided to break the bargello up into blocks and add sashing in a navy blue.

Prior to building a bargello, I practiced a little bit with the curve on paper. I used graph paper and coloured horizontal lines with markers and pencil crayons.  It is a fun way to experiment with the type of curves that you would like for your quilt. Kids enjoy this process too!


I then cut the coloured section of the graph paper into vertical strips (some narrow and some wider) and started to lay out the strips in different gradual slopes and curves, gluing them down with a dab of glue at the top of the strip.  Choose one colour that you want to focus on as your curve line. Use that colour to help you guide your curve up or down in a staircase type arrangement. (the rest of the colours will follow naturally!)  In this photo, I used the dark brown colour to help me guide the line of the curve:


The bargello design is something that you will have to play with until you get a curve that you are happy with.   In a typical bargello, many of the strips are cut into a variety of widths to create more dramatic curves and added interest.   For the following quilt tutorial, I have cut strips that measure all the same width.

It is really helpful if you have a design wall, a larger table or floor space that you can keep your bargello design displayed as you are working on it.   It is also helpful to take quick photos with your smart phone along the way – to see the big picture, keep track of fabric order and layout of blocks.



1 jelly roll – Figures by Zen Chic

Navy blue Bella Solid fabric 9900-236    1  3/4 yards total for sashing and binding

Backing fabric  – 3 yards


Cut 7 –   2.5’’ x 42.5’’ strips  from navy solid fabric for horizontal sashing – set aside

Cut 6 –  2.5’’ x width of fabric strips from navy solid fabric. Sub cut into 30 –  2.5” x 8.5” strips for vertical sashing – set aside.

Separate strips in the jelly roll according to like colours:


Sort and lay out each colour grouping from light to dark:


You will need 24 strips for this project.   Choose 24 strips total from all colour groupings and lay them out side by side. You might need to shuffle the strips around until you get a wash of colour that is pleasing to you.  Tip – take a photo with your smartphone to keep track of your colour order.


You will now be sewing the strips together to make one large sheet of strips.  Set your stitch length slightly shorter than usual to prevent the seams from coming apart.

First sew pairs of strips together. Match seams from selvedge edge, and then sew in one direction.     You should now have 12 pairs of strips.   Press towards the darker strip.

Now, sew a pair of strips to another pair of strips.  Sew from the opposite end of the selvedge.   Continue sewing pairs together in alternating directions.   This ensures that your finished sheet of strips will not be too wavy. Your selvedge edges may not be perfectly aligned because fabric widths may differ. This is okay – we will trim them later.  Press seams in alternating directions. This will help with nesting seams in a future step.


Your strips are now sewn together into one large sheet:


Sew the two outside strips (top and bottom of the sheet) together, right sides together, to create a tube:


Lay the tube on your cutting mat with the seams running horizontally and straight. Press/smooth the tube flat.  Trim uneven edges of one end of tube.   Cross cut the fabric vertically, in 2.5’’segments (which are actually 2.5’’ wide rings once they are cut) Cut 16 – 2.5” segments/rings.


Choose one print as the guideline for your bargello curve. I chose the darkest coral as my guide.  From there, using that coral as my line guide, I arranged the rings on my design wall by shifting the prints down one print at a time, in a staircase type arrangement, and then in an upwards staircase motion.  Using that coral curve, I was able to then define the ‘top’ of my quilt top.  I liked having that little bit of blue on the top edge. Note in the photo below, the strip rings are still rings –  I have just laid them flat, getting ready to separate the top edge prints.


Using a seam ripper, separate the seam that defines the top edge of your quilt top.  e.g. in the example below, assuming the blue print will be the top of my design, I will separate the seam at the top of that blue print.  Now your ‘ring’ is no longer a ring and lays flat in one long vertical strip:




Continue to separate the rings into long strips using the top of your design to guide you. You will now have 16 long strips and your bargello top has taken form.  Your design can easily be shifted into other designs, and does not have to mimic mine.  Here are a couple of designs I played around with:




Separate your strips into groups of four – without changing the order of your strips:


Now, using seam ripper,  separate your grouped strips into segments of four prints.  Keep them grouped into foursomes as shown:


Sew together mini strips to make a 4 x 4 block:



Sew 2.5’’ x 8.5’’ vertical sashing to the sides of blocks. Press towards sashing:



Sew 2.5’’ x 42.5’’ horizontal sashing as shown:


Quilt your bargello – I chose a simple wavy design:



Binding –  I used a binding method called Susie’s Magic Binding to show off a hint of the backing print on the navy blue solid sashing.



A bright and cheerful quilt measuring   42” x 62”



Andrea Harris
{Urban Quiltwork}

6 comments on “Modern Bargello Quilt

  1. Linda Lewis says:

    All I can say is wow! Thanks for doing the hard part.

  2. Cat says:

    Wow, that looks amazing. Your instructions are very clear thank you

  3. CruiseFan says:

    Very nice!
    I also like the wavy quilting – it looks great!

  4. susan says:

    so cool!! love it!! thanks for sharing!!!

  5. Karin Vail says:

    great quilt! Thanks for sharing!!!

  6. Cute! I love the sashing and your quilting really sets it off beautifully!

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