Bargello Quilt Tutorial

One of my friends made a quilt last year using Fig Tree Quilt’s Strawberry Fields Revisited fabric line and as soon as I saw it I knew I needed that fabric.  I bought two jelly rolls but didn’t have any plans in mind on how I would use them.  I pulled the jelly rolls out over the winter and decided to make a simple bargello quilt; I had made a similar quilt years ago and I love the design!

 

A bargello quilt is a very easy quilt to make and there are lots of different layout options – you can vary the width of the strips for an optical illusion effect or arrange the fabric so the colors zig-zag back and forth.  I kept mine nice and simple and used a diagonal layout.  Jelly rolls are great for this type of design since much of the initial cutting is already done for you.

I started by arranging the strips from one jelly roll out on my table in an order that I liked, there were lots of red and brown prints in this collection so I separated those into two different sections and tried to keep 4-5 strips for each color section.  Since I used a jelly roll I had a total of 39 strips (I removed one piece of fabric that was a solid white and kept just the prints).   Once you have a layout you’re happy with you can sew all the strips together. 

The key to making a bargello quilt is making sure you press the strips properly; you want to make sure you press towards every other strip and don’t press them all in the same direction.  If you press towards every other strip then it helps nest the seams later and allows the quilt to lay better.  An easy way to keep track is to number the strips and press towards the even numbered strip.  Numbering the fabric will also help you later in the process.   

 

Once you have all of the strips pieced and pressed together you need to sew the two end strips together in order to make a large tube.  Place the tube on your cutting table and make sure it lays flat, depending on the size of your table you may have to fold the tube in half.  The selvage ends will likely not align but you want to make sure the top and bottom of the strips are as straight as possible. 

Cut off the selvage ends of one side to square up the piece and then cut the tube into 2 ½” strips.  You should be able to get 16 or 17 strips from one jelly roll tube.  If you are using two jelly rolls you will need to repeat the above steps with the 2nd roll. 

To start piecing the quilt top you will need to un-sew the seam between two pieces of fabric, I started with the seam between the first and last piece of fabric from my strip set (Fabric #1 and #39 in my case).  This strip will be your first row.  You will then need to remove the seam between fabric #1 and fabric #2 for your second row.  Seam #2 and #3 for the third row, and so on.  Sew rows 1 and 2 together, I use pins at every seam to make sure that they line up properly.  If all the seams were pressed towards the even numbered row then they should nest together well.   Once row 1 and 2 are sewn together press the seam towards row one.

You will need to repeat this process for the remaining strips and sew the rows together. 

Row 4 – Remove the seam between fabric 3 and 4

Row 5 – Remove the seam between fabric 4 and 5, etc.

This is an easy pattern to adjust the size for; each strip will finish at 2”.  Since I used 39 strips from a jelly roll my quilt is 78” long.  I used two jelly roll strips sets and was able to get 33 strips (16 strips from one set and 17 from the other), my width is 66”. 

Below is another bargello quilt that I made about ten years ago.  I used two mini rolls with 24 fabrics in each and made two strip sets using the same method above. The bargello pattern alone measures about 48″ x 66″ so I added an 8″ border to make the quilt larger.  This fabric is Charleston IV 1850-1865 by Marcus Brothers Fabric.  

Easy, right?!  Bargello quilts are a quick and fun way to use up some of those jelly rolls that you have gathering dust in the closet. If you’ve made a bargello quilt that you would like to share I’d love to see it!  If you have any questions or suggestions let me know in the comments. Happy quilting!

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Pillow Tutorial with Envelope Backing

I love making quilted pillows to give as a present or to add some seasonal decorations to the house– they are easy to make, relatively quick for a handmade item, and always appreciated by the recipient. After making numerous pillows this holiday season I wanted to share my way of making an envelope backing. I’ve always struggled with zippers and I have found this method to be quick and hassle free.

First you need to determine the size of the pillow and make your pillow top. I like my pillows to be firmly stuffed so I make the pillow the same size as the pillow form, if I buy a 16” square pillow form then both my front and back will measure 16” exactly. If you like your pillow to be a little looser then you can make your front and back a half inch larger than the form.

I typically start with a quilted pillow front. I used a simple patchwork pattern then layered it with a piece of cotton batting and muslin for the back. I quilted it with straight lines then cut the final product down to a 16” square.

Next you will need to cut two rectangles from a coordinating fabric that you want to use for the backing. The width of the rectangles will match the pillow width, in this case it is 16”. You will need to do some math to figure out the height – I take the width of the fabric divided by two, then add 3.5 inches. For a 16 inch pillow you will want 11.5 inches as the height (16/2=8, 8+3.5= 11.5). Below is a chart for some of the most common sizes.

Pillow Size Backing Pieces (cut 2 pieces per pillow)
12” square 9.5” x 12”
14” square 10.5” x 14”
16” square 11.5” x 16”
18” square 12.5” x 18”
20” square 13.5” x 20”

Once you have the rectangles cut you will need to take a long side of the piece and fold it over approximately ¼” (this doesn’t have to be an exact measurement, you can eyeball it).  I spray the fold lightly with Magic Sizing and iron it. You will need to fold it over one more time so the cut side of the fabric is hidden.

 

Using a matching thread you will need to topstitch the fold down close to the fold side. You will do this on one long side of each rectangle.

NOTE: If you have directional fabric you will need to make the fold on the top side of one rectangle and the bottom side of the other.

Now it is time to sew the pillow together. I like to have a binding on my pillows, I think it really adds to the pillow and helps it stand out. If you are adding a binding then follow the directions below with the right side of the pillows both facing out (wrong side together). If you are not adding a binding then you need to sew the pillow right sides together and then turn the pillow the right side out.

Place the pillow top right side down on your work table.

Place one backing rectangle on the bottom of the pillow, right side up, with the sewn seam edge in the middle of the pillow. Next add the other rectangle piece, right side up, with the sewn seam edge in the middle.

Pin the pieces together along the edge.

Sew a ¼” seam around all four edges of the pillow. Your pillow is almost done now, you just need to add the binding!

You can finish the pillow any binding method of your choice. I use 2 ½” inch strips for my binding, machine sew to the front of the pillow, and hand stitch it to the back side. If your pillow is 18” square or smaller you will need two strips cut the width of the fabric, any pillow larger than that will likely need 3 strips.

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