Tuesday, December 8, 2009


My DH emailed me about someone excitedly blogging about Bargello and how its is so appropriately "retro". Only a non-stitcher would think of bargello in this sense. Furthermore the examples shown were not bargello at all but rather needlepoint sampler pillows found in beiges and avocado greens. Books have been written about bargello so how to put it in a nutshell is a challenge. Often bargello is thought of as a flame stitch motif but it can also be executed in ribbons, medallions, four way and even eight way. Eight way? that would surely land me in an asylum somewhere. Bargello can be on the less expensive end of projects since you don't have to pay for a painted canvas and it can be satisfactory to do it in wool, often a less expensive thread choice. I'd only use wool if it was going to take some wear and tear, as bargello can also be lovely stitched in silk floss. Below is a quickie bargello frame weight I made. It is stitched in Gloriana lorikeet, a very soft wool indeed. It is backed in Weeks wool felt. The tassels could maybe be nicer if I separated the 9 ply's. I think I'll save this task for when I'm in the asylum.

Bargello (needlework) From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Two examples of Bargello patterns (Florentine work). The top is a typical curved Bargello motif. The bottom image is a "flame stitch" motif similar to that found in the Bargello museum chairs. Bargello is 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, which have a "flame stitch" pattern. Traditionally, Bargello was stitched in wool on canvas. Embroidery done this way is remarkably durable. It is well suited for use on pillows, upholstery and even carpets, but not for clothing. In most traditional pieces, all stitches are vertical with stitches going over two or more threads. Traditional designs are very colourful, and use many hues of one colour, which produces intricate shading effects. The patterns are naturally geometric, but can also resemble very stylised flowers or fruits. Bargello is considered particularly challenging, as it requires very precise counting of squares for the mathematical pattern connected with the various motifs to accurately execute designs.


As with many traditional crafts, the origins of Bargello are not well documented. Although early examples are from the Bargello Museum in Florence, there does exist documentation that a Hungarian connection is possible. For one thing, the Bargello Museum inventory identifies the chairs in its inventory as "17th century with backs and seats done in punto unghero (Hungarian Point)." (Williams, 1967:5). In the 18th century, Queen Maria Teresa of Hungary stitched Bargello and her work has been preserved in the Hungarian National Museum.

Alternate names

A number of alternative names are used by different scholars, including:

• Florentine Work - After the fact that the Bargello Museum is in Florence.

• Hungarian Point (punto unghero) - In Italian, Bargello is known as "Hungarian Point" (Williams 1967: 5, Petschek 1997), indicating that the Florentines believed the technique originated in Hungary. However, English embroidery vocabulary also includes a diamond shaped stitch called the Hungarian Point, so few English language books use this term to refer to Bargello.

• Flame Stitch (fiamma) - A type of Bargello motif in which zig-zag or flames are created. The chairs in the Bargello museum do use flame stitch motifs, but curved motifs are also common (see below). These curved Bargello motifs would normally not be "flame stitch", but would be called Bargello.

Because of the potential for confusion, most books written in English refer to the technique simply as "Bargello" (Williams 1969, Kaestner 1972, Petscheck 1997).

1 comment:

  1. Love this idea! The colors and pattern on the frame weight are fantastic!

    Keep Stitching,


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