Jelly Roll Bargello Quilt – first block, step by step

My Word for 2020 icon by Allison ReidSo, designing and making a Bargello quilt, how hard can it be? 😀

There are plenty of Bargello patterns to be bought, found in books or available for free on the ‘interweb’… but none seemed to quite fit the fabric quantities I had available or the idea I had in my head…

Not only are there plenty of patterns available there are also a considerable number of cutting and piecing methods to choose from – both to follow in books and watch on YouTube. It took me a couple of days to assimilate the information I’d found, play around with pencil and eraser and look wistfully at the fabrics. Finally it was time to put a plan into action 🙂

Fabric: I used a Moda Jelly Roll, ‘Circulus’ by Jen Kingwell Designs, forty width of fabric strips cut 2½” wide. This collection conveniently has four each of ten colours making it easy for me to sort them into four matching sets. Other Jelly Rolls would need more careful sorting and maybe a few substitutions to replace those fabrics that wouldn’t play well in a Bargello pattern i.e. large, widely spaced designs which could break up the pattern across the quilt top.

The method: After much deliberation and many ‘huhs?’ followed by a few light-bulb moments I decided to employ a strip piecing ‘tube’ method to make this Bargello quilt. After all the research, I found most affinity with a tip-filled tutorial posted by Donna of Jordan Fabrics on YouTube. Her method sits well with how my mind works through this sort of exercise.

The pattern: After much faffing about with pencil and eraser I settled on a simple pattern. I didn’t figure out the exact size of the completed block but reckoned the many seams involved would reduce the width of fabric quite considerably! I have to add that just as I stood poised with rotary cutter and ruler I had a little brain wave and made a couple of changes to my pattern! 😀

Making a Bargello Block:

Step 1

Sort Jelly Roll fabrics into four sets of ten strips. Make four strip sets by sewing the fabrics together along the long edges. Make sure to stitch each set in the same colour/fabric order.

Two of the four identical strip sets.

I found Donna’s tip to finger press seams in alternate directions worked well. I did also carefully press the seams with a hot iron before going on to Step 2.

Step 2

Take one strip set. Fold it over on itself (right sides facing). Stitch along the long edge to make a tube.

Step 3

Follow the cutting instructions and rotary cut segments of various widths after straightening up one end of the tube. Keep the segments in cutting order!

Step 4

Turn the tube segments right side out, still keeping them in cutting order. Follow the pattern to rotate the tube segments ’til the correct ascending and descending order is created.

Tube segments rotated into position ready for the top seams to be unpicked.

Step 5

Unpick the seams at the top of the strips. Check the colours flow as per the pattern and then begin sewing the segments together matching up the seams as you go. Some of my segments were quite narrow, cut just 1″ wide, and I found it easier to stitch these segments together in pairs and press the seams open before joining them to the rest of the block.

Et voila, my first Bargello block. 🙂

Lessons learned:

  • It really does pay to stay organised when making these blocks!
  • Bargello blocks sure can use up fabric – my 44″ WOF strip set shrank to a 22″ wide block with about 8″ of spare fabric.
  • Cutting the strips narrow makes for an intricate pattern but piecing those narrow strips (the narrowest finished just under ½” wide) was far too fiddly-diddly for me. I’ll go back to the squared paper and come up with a design using wider strips!

Do you have a favoured method for making Bargello blocks? Please do use the comments box to recommend a book or tutorial that has helped you master this block. Any tips you’d care to share would be most welcome too. Thank you!

Linking with Susan for Midweek Makers and with Kelly for Needle and Thread Thursday. Susan has nearly finished a quilt and Kelly is pushing through on a project to use up strips of scrap fabrics.


8 thoughts on “Jelly Roll Bargello Quilt – first block, step by step

    • Thank you for sharing the link to the Bargello Facebook group. It certainly seems to be a group full of inspiration and helpful advice. I’ve joined and posted the link to my Jelly Roll Bargello blog post. 🙂


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