Bargello (bar-jell-o) was originally a term applied to a particular technique of embroidery. It is now also used to refer to a method of quilting that borrows the look of bargello embroidery and interprets it using fabric pieces.
This style of quilting appeals to me. I like the patchwork patterns well enough, but there is something about the bargello style that inspires the abstract artist in me. I have in mind a pattern that I wish to use to make a quilt big enough for our bed, but before I started on such a large piece I thought it might be a good idea to practice the bargello technique. So, I bought a bundle of fat quarters from a local quilting fabric shop and decided to make a set of placemats.
First I cut enough strips to make four place mats. Since the pattern I was following was planned for 42 inch wide fabric and the fat quarters were all only 22 inches wide, I decided that rather than the 3 tubes the pattern called for, I would make 7 tubes. Here are my strips, meticulously cut very carefully to be uniform.
It was during this initial cutting that I learned that my desk is NOT the right height for this process. It requires me to lean over just enough to put some real strain on my lower back. I experienced some drastic spasms after this obsessive compulsive cutting session. (Fortunately I have recovered from that!) For the next round of cutting I decided to use the kitchen counter, which is a much better height for the activity.
After all the strips were cut, I needed to figure out what order I wanted them to be in. The bargello technique looks best if there is a gradation from light to dark. My blues were not all the same tone, and it wasn’t obvious what order they should be in. Jim suggested I photograph the strips and then manipulate the image to make it black and white so I could see color values better. That is exactly what I did, and I was able to arrange the fabrics using that method.
Then you spend a lot of time sewing the strips together, making tubes of fabric. Seam allowances are pressed in a particular way so that later they will lie correctly.
The next step requires you to cut strips at right angles to the tubes. It is quite important that your cutting be accurate so that when you stitch the strips together your corners match.
Here are all the strips cut in their various widths.
The next step involves removing the stitching between different fabrics in the strips.
Finally you sew the strips together.
Now all I have to do is put a backing on this and bind the front to the back.
One sewed, four to go. Yes, it turned out that I over compensated for the narrower fabric strips, and wound up with enough strips sewed to make five place mats rather than four. The Japanese hold that even numbers are unlucky, so I guess it is just as well that I am going to wind up with five mats rather than four.
After all that cutting I needed a break, so even though it was rather chilly outside (right below the freezing point of water) I took Ruby off to Bennett Spring for a walk. This time I took my camera along because I knew that the cold weather would provide me some nifty photo opportunities.
I was right. I have always wondered about icicles that wind up like this. Was there a momentary local gravity anomaly while they were forming?
The water dripping near the moss made a pretty neat set of globular ice formations.
This little icicle is about two inches long. I really liked the formations just above it, frozen water currents.
I walked over the ridge, and as I walked I saw how the sun was angling and thought of another spring I have visited in the past. It seemed to me that possibly today I might catch the sun shining on the ice I knew would be there.
I was right. Too bad my camera couldn’t bring itself to focus on the ice the way I wanted it to. But I think these shots are still pretty fun.
I might go out there tomorrow afternoon and see if I can’t do even better. This time I’ll take my glasses so I can look at the images the camera has captured before I get home!
We are surely enjoying the fire this evening. We watched the International Space Station make its transit across the southern sky here, waved to the astronauts and mourned the death of the space shuttle program. But of course, it is so much more important to devote our money to bombing and occupying countries in the Middle East, you know.
Take care, all of you.