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Bargello Placemat Quilt Along – Part 1 – Fabric Selection, cutting and Strip Piecing

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Welcome fellow quilt alongers! This will be part 1 of a 3 part quilt along to make some simple placemats and an optional table runner using the bargello technique.

This is my first quilt along that I’m hosting so if you have questions that need to be answered please comment below so I can improve my tutorial.  Chances are, if you have a question someone else does too! I tried to take useful photographs and explain each step thoroughly but I’m not perfect so if it seems something is missing let me know.

The pattern I came up with uses 6 fabrics.  You don’t have to use the design that I’m sharing here, you are welcome to put your strips back together any way that pleases you. I used Excel to design my bargello placemats/tablerunner – it was easy to shade the cells, calculate yardage and how large the piece would come out when it was finished.

If you want to make the placemats here is your pattern and yardage requirement:

If you want to make the table runner here is the pattern and yardage requirement:

Step 1 – Fabric Selection

The first step will be selecting your fabrics that go in the bargello. Choose fabrics that are pleasing to your eye when they go together but you also need to check their value. There are lots of ways to check fabric value – you can use a little tool called a value finder on your fabrics – lots of people swear by that. I prefer to use a black and white photograph right now.

I have a little app on my phone that does it.  Most point and shoot cameras have a black and white setting that you can also use. From here you should be able to see how dark the fabrics are together.

A really striking set would include values of the same color! I didn’t have enough fabrics to do that with so I chose to go scrappy.

Once you find fabrics that you like and that follow the values in the pattern, we are ready to start cutting our strips.

Step 2 – Press your fabrics – I use spray sizing generously.  This will make your strips easier to cut, especially if the fabric is thin.

Step 3 – Cut your fabrics

When you fold your fabric make sure to feel the bottom and smooth out any issues in the fold.  If you have any ripples in the fold of your fabric it will not cut straight and you’ll end up with a “v” somewhere.  So be sure to feel your fabric from the top to the bottom of the fold and make sure everything is completely flat before cutting.

Follow the steps above to cut the number of strips specified in the pattern from each fabric.

Step 3: Sew your fabrics

Take strips 1 and 2 to your sewing machine. Layer them right sides together.  Using a 1/4″ foot or seam guide, sew them together.

Before sewing additional strips together I do recommend doing a quick check of your seam allowance.  I had to nudge my needle over a tad since my strips were coming out a hair short.

Once you are happy with your seam allowance sew Fabric 1 to Fabric 2, Fabric 3 to Fabric 4, and Fabric 5 to Fabric 6. They should look like this now:

Now take your first two sets and lets sew them together! Layer your sets so that fabric 2 and fabric 3 are on top of eachother, right sides together.

Do the same to the last set.

After pressing trim at least one edge of your strip set even. I trimmed both of my ends but you can do what you like.

Step 4: Make the tube
Sew fabric 1 to fabric 6 – right sides together.

Repeat step 3 and 4 the number of times necessary to have enough tubes for the pattern you are using.  For the placemats you will need four tubes, for the tablerunner you will need two tubes.

Part 2 will show you what to do with your tubes and how to sew everything back together once they are cut apart.  Part 3 will show you how to finish your pieced tops and suggestions for quilting them.

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