How to Make a Bargello Quilt

    by Ruth O'Neil

    About the Author

    Ruth O'Neil has been a freelance writer for almost 20 years. She has published hundreds of articles and stories in dozens of publications including "Parentlife," "CBA Retailers and Resources," "Lookout" and "Standard." She has also worked with a publishing company editing and preparing manuscripts for publication.


    A bargello quilt is a good quilt for a beginning quilter to learn on. All the seams are straight, making it easy to sew. A bargello quilt usually has numerous different shades of the same color, ranging from very dark to very light, that are sewn together. The bargello quilt gives the impression of a waterfall, which can be enhanced using different shades of blue.

    Things You'll Need

    • 6 shades of blue fabric
    • Masking tape (optional)
    • Measuring tape
    • Scissors
    • Sewing machine
    • Thread
    • Iron
    • Seam ripper
    • Pins
    • 2 ½ yards of blue print fabric for borders and backing
    • Quilt batting

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    Small Lap Quilt or Wall Hanging

    Fold the fabrics in half width-wise and cut two strips from each shade of fabric from selvage edge to selvage edge. Each strip should be 2 ½ inches wide.

    Arrange six of the strips in order from darkest to lightest. Sew them together. Repeat with the remaining strips. You should now have two striped units. Iron the seams of the units all in one direction.

    Make a tube out of each unit by folding it in half along the seams with right sides together. Sew the first dark strip and the last light strip together. You now have an inside-out tube. Repeat with second unit.

    Cut across the tubes to make new strips containing each color. Cut new strips as follows: two strips measuring 4 ¾ inches wide (A), three strips measuring 3 inches wide (B), four strips measuring 2 inches wide (C), four strips measuring 1 ½ inches wide (D), four strips measuring 1 1/8 inches wide (E) and 10 strips measuring 7/8-inch wide (F).

    Lay your new strips out in this order: A,B,C,D,E,F,F,F,F,F,E,D,C,B,C,D,E,F,F,F,F,F,E,D,C,B,A.

    Use the seam ripper to undo the tubes and make long strips again, as follows. Take your first A and remove the seam so that the darkest blue is the first color in the strip. Take the second tube and remove the seam so that the next darkest color is on top, and so on.

    Continue making long strips by working your way down the color scale with each strip. Make sure to keep your strips in order as you work to make sewing the strips together easier. You may want to mark the top patch of each strip with a small piece of lettered masking tape.

    Sew the first strip A to the first strip B with right sides together. Use pins at each seam to hold the fabric in place while you sew. Continue sewing the strips together in letter order until you have assembled the entire quilt top.

    Iron all the seams of the quilt in one direction.

    Using your border fabric, cut two strips, each measuring 4 ½ inches wide by the width of your quilt. Sew these strips to the top and bottom of the quilt. Press the seams toward the border. Measure the sides of the quilt and cut two more strips, each measuring 4 ½ inches wide by the side measurement you just took. Sew one strip on each side of the quilt and press the seams toward the border.

    Measure the length and width of your quilt top and then cut your backing fabric 2 inches larger all the way around. Lay your backing fabric right side down on a flat work surface, such as a large table. Top with the quilt batting and center the quilt top on the batting.

    To bind the quilt, fold the raw edges of the quilt backing fabric toward the quilt and press. Fold them over again, allowing the folded edge to overlap the quilt top by 1/4 inch. Sew all the way around the edges of the quilt. Quilt as desired, either by tying with embroidery thread or by hand quilting.

    • A rotary cutter makes quick work of cutting your strips. If you are going to make a lot of strip pieced quilts, invest in a rotary cutter, cutting mat and ruler.
    • Butting the seams up against each other will help you have perfect seam joins on your quilt. When you put pieces of fabric with the right sides together, make sure the seams on the back go in opposite directions and butt them right up against each other. Insert a pin to help hold the seams in place while you sew.