A few years ago, when domino magazine was still being published, my eldest DD called me about a picture in the current issue. She told me she wanted it. The picture? A white, contemporary couch full of colorful vintage Bargello pictures. I think I had even stitched some of the same ones back in the murky past.
I still haven’t gotten around to doing this for her. But Althea’s recent post about vintage Bargello, got me thinking about it again. The post links to another great article fromRetro Renovation about Bargello’s popularity or the one about Bargello pillows. The article also shows some other great techniques like trianglepoint.
All this got me thinking about why Bargello looks so good with mid-century modern furniture and how you would go about creating your own collection.
Bargello and trianglepoint look good with this design style for two reasons, abstract geometry and color. The curves of Bargello and the angles of trianglepoint don’t represent anything, they just are pleasing patterns. The curves of Bargello create a nice counterpoint to the strong angles of the furniture (like the kidney-shaped coffee table or the round ottoman. The angles of trianglepoint take the mostly right angles of the furniture in a different direction. So there is good contrast inherent in them.
The colors of vintage needlepoint tend to be brighter and a bit harsher than what we would use today. Here is another bit of contrast, looking great against the pale or dull colors of the upholstery.
If you want to do this, how do you start collecting it? Although I have found pieces at thrift shops, the best thing to do is go to eBay and search for Bargello. Quite often you will find finished pieces of Bargello, sometimes even made into pillows. You will also find lots and lots of vintage kits and patterns. Many finished pieces go for under $20 and the patterns can be as little as a buck or two.
Let’s say you decide to make a pillow from a vintage pattern and you want it to look vintage, how do you start? First begin with a larger mesh size of canvas, 13 mesh is perfect, although you can use larger mesh. Plan to stitch your project in wool. In the 70’s Persian wool was about the only thread used for needlepoint
For a pattern, just about any Bargello needlepoint pattern will work. There are also lots of great vintage books out there from the period, so you can get patterns there.
There are so many places for color schemes, it’s hard to narrow them down. Look to older needlepoint books, decorating magazines, and fashions from the period. Because color reproduction for books and magazines is so much better today than for the period, look to books for collectors with current pictures. I’m particularly fond of the colors in Vera textiles and Pucci prints.
Bargello designs are timeless and work in any decor. While these tips are for making Bargello for a mid-Century modern scheme, you can adapt them to any decor.