Sunday, May 8, 2016

Bargello Embroidery

Bargello Embroidery seems to be enjoying a bit of a revival lately on both sides of the Atlantic. I've seen lots of it through the various North American needlework guilds and also on Facebook among Italian stitchers. The designs, patterns, colours and use of imagination are wonderful and a delight to look at.

This technique goes by many names: Flame stitch, Hungarian point, Bargello, Florentine stitch, Gobelin stitch, Irish stitch and many others. There is a fascinating English language article on possible origins, different styles and extant examples that you can download and read here.

For the Italian take on it, a Google search for "punto fiamma" produces some spectacular examples. It is a technique used often for upholstery on things such as chairs and cushions, if you pay attention in the Italian museums, there are sometimes chairs set around the perimeter of the rooms which are cordoned off so you can't sit on them. These are easily passed by and ignored but close inspection can reveal some wonderful Bargello embroideries which have faded and deteriorated over time but which are still great examples of very complex Bargello embroidery patterns.

If you are looking to stitch a little taste of many Bargello designs, have a look at this wonderful sampler by Maria Elide Melani of the association Ago, Aga e Fantasia of Pistoia, Italy.

Each section is a different Bargello pattern separated by drawn thread channels. I like this idea as then you don't have to worry about trying to work out how to have your various patterns butt up neatly against others, and the drawn thread work creates some definition to the sampler itself.

The pattern booklet (text in Italian) is available from Maria Elide herself, send her an email or contact her via her Facebook page. Please note that the drawn thread work and hemming is not explained in the booklet.

There are 21 different Bargello patterns to stitch with lovely close up photos of the finished embroideries to copy from. You could then easily adapt any one of the patterns for a towel border or for placemats or whatever your heart desires!