Cathy's Bargello Page

Detail of Flame-stitch Carnation Pattern on Bargello Needlepoint Chair DEFINING
Detail of Flame-stitch Carnation Pattern on Bargello Needlepoint Chair

Bargello is a form of needlepoint in which (typically) only straight stitches are used, usually in geometric patterns. Popular patterns usually involve using many shades of one color in rows shaped into squares, diamonds, hearts, etc. Flame-shaped patterns are also very popular. Bargello is worked in one direction or can be worked in four directions that all merge at the center of the fabric. Actually, it can be worked in more directions; it just depends on your patience! It is sometimes called "Florentine work," usually when the stitches are of two lengths, typically over two threads and over six threads of the canvas. Another name for Bargello is "Irish Stitch."

Bargello was very common in the 17th and 18th centuries, especially for purses, chairs, and furniture. Many beautiful patterns date back to these centuries. Bargello can be done in Persian wool or silk floss. The floss is much more difficult to work well. Most 18th-century pieces that I have seen in person or photographs are worked in wool. Many chairs using the classic styles of the 18th century are sold upholstered in prints that imitate the bargello that would cover authentic antiques.

In my home, I have many pillows I've done and kept for myself as well as a chairback done in a repeating-line pattern of all shades of yellow, creme, and white. Much of the pleasure of working a bargello pillow, however, is planning the pillow as a gift for someone with their favorite colors and taste in mind. Bargello is extremely flexible, and one can create immensely diverse effects by varying color, pattern, and the size of the canvas upon which one works.

On this site are many of the bargello pieces that I've worked but not all. Often in the race to send out a pillow as a gift, I never photographed the piece. I've organized the site, grouping works by the patterns I've used.

7/3/03 Update

I have to say that I've learned the value of using real canvas, quality threads, and a professional blocker/backer. Most of my earliest pieces done on plastic canvas have problems now--either the plastic breaks or my hand-done stitches pull out. Lots of my pillows are now in boxes waiting to be repaired or restitched. Some I've "retired" so that they don't get further damaged--the cheap thread is pulling or knobbing up. However, the pieces I did on canvas and had professionally backed still are stunners. Except for the cat hair, they look as great as they did when first made!

8/13/05 Update


Thanks for all the nice email!

I lot of people have written to ask me about getting bargello books. I think the best thing is to buy used copies of bargello books published in the 70s and 80s. The internet is driving all of the small used paperback bookshops out of business in my local area (Riverside, CA). I find now that I do better to look for used, out-of-print bargello books online. I like to buy from and, but I'm sure there are plenty of other good internet shops out there as well. All of the books I mention on these pages I have found helpful and fun.

Happy stitching!




This is the new home for Cathy's Bargello Needlepoint Page. I'll be updating the moving all the dead links. I'm sad to say my local needlepoint shop, The Enchanted Unicorn in Redlands, closed. I have four finished bargello canvases, and now I need to find a new place to have them blocked and made into pillows.

Once again, happy stitching!


Last Update 27 September 2009

Cathy Decker, March 2009
Bargello Line Patterns
Traditional Bargello Patterns
Florentine-Work Bargello
Geometric Bargello Patterns
Bargello Ribbon Patterns
Bargello Links
New Bargello Images
Four-Way Bargello
Original Bargello
Framed Bargello Patterns