You might think that Bargello stitches can only be one size, but by picking the right kind of pattern and changing the length of the stitch, you can turn a Bargello pattern into a mini or a maxi version of the same pattern.
The key is (oh no here comes the math) the ratio between the stitch length and the step between stitches. Look for numbers for both that are even numbers. If you remember about ratios, then you know these can always be reduced by dividing each side by 2, You can also make them bigger as long as the resulting numbers can be reduced to the same ratio.
That’s your key to changing sizes of Bargello patterns.
Finding a pattern is a bit harder. It’s made easier by the fact that so many patterns are based on stitches four threads long, with a step of two threads. Reduce that by dividing by 2 and you get a ratio of 2:1. In other words the step is half the length of the stitch.
Knowing this, we can change the length of the stitches and steps in the patten, making them smaller, as in the jewelry case (from Bargello Revisited) shown here, or making them longer.
The mini size uses stitches two threads long with a one thread step. The maxi version uses stitches six threads long with a step of three threads. Use the mini patterns on small pieces and the maxi ones for large areas that won’t get hard wear.
You might have thought doing the math was the hardest thing, but actually finding a suitable pattern is hardest. I’ve spent some time looking through my vintage Bargello books for patterns to adapt and I’ve figured out the patterns that are candiates for these alterations. They have:
- stitches all the same length
- steps all the same length
If a pattern has these two characteristics and a 2:1 ratio, it can be shortened or lengthened. If you’re in doubt about how it will work, try stitching a line or two on some scrap canvas.
I’ve done several small scale pieces before, but I hadn’t thought about how easy it is to do and how endlessly addicting making them can be. I’m so excited to share the results with you.
Throughout the month, on Saturdays, I’m going to share with you a series of mini Bargello patterns, small stitch versions that are made to fit into Sudberry’s mini treasure boxes. The first one will run on Saturday.
About Janet M Perry
Janet Perry is the Internet's leading authority on needlepoint. She designs, teaches and writes, getting raves from her fans for her innovative techniques, extensive knowledge and generous teaching style. A leading writer of stitch guides, she blogs here and lives on an island in the northeast corner of the SF Bay with her family
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