A Bargello Pin Cushion

Hi–I will be upgrading to a slightly different blog format, and so will not be posting for probably three or four days. I have found a WordPress blog format–they call them “themes”– that has a wider screen, and that will showcase photographs better than in the present format. So the blog will be up, but I will be in the background tinkering. I’m looking forward to having a bit more space! So I hope that you will bear with me, and I want to extend my sincerest thanks to you for reading Something for (almost) Nothing.

Speaking of three or four days, that’s just about the length of time needed for making today’s craft project, which is a bargello pin cushion. Bargello is a form of needlepoint that uses straight stitches to form beautiful flame-like patterns. Its history goes back to when a Hungarian princess married into the de Medici family during the Renaissance, bringing the skill with her. Some of the first pieces of bargello work can be found in the Bargello Palace in Florence, Italy, which is why the stitch is sometimes called Florentine embroidery. The Bargello Arts website offers a a wonderful look at bargello and its history, and is worth a visit.

This is a great book with ideas and many more bargello stitches.

This plump little pin cushion is 3-1/4″ square. You will need a small amount of brown, 16-count cross stitch fabric,  a small piece of felt, crewel embroidery wool in five colors (see more below), a tapestry needle, scissors, sewing thread, and stuffing.

The flame-like ripples of the bargello stitch are enhanced by color choice. Use gradations of two colors. In this case, I used a dark, medium, and light green, and a light and dark red hue. The pattern will show you the stitches–consulting the photo will show color placement. AboutNeedlepoint.com has some of the basics of the bargello stitch, which is an easy straight stitch.

Here is the pattern, which is from The Book of Presents by Sonya Mills. (It’s not as scary as it looks!)

The beginning few rows of the pattern.

Crewel yarn usually has three strands–only use one strand for this. Start in the lower left hand corner. The first row or two are the hardest, because you must count to go from color to color, but once the pattern is established, it becomes easier.

Once you finish the last dark red row, look at the pattern to see how to finish off. Draw a margin of 3/8″ around the finished square, and cut along the lines. Using this as a pattern, cut out a piece of coordinating felt. Finger press the margin under both pieces. Place them wrong sides together; pin to stabilize; and overcast the seams, leaving part of one side open. Stuff the pin cushion with polyester fiberfill, and sew closed.

Bargello in muted tones can look beautifully antique, and if you catch the bargello “bug,” a full-size bargello pillow is the next logical step, though I can also see a linen work bag with a bargello insert, to hold sewing items.

When you have a cat, photographing craft items is not easy!

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