Bargello: Stitches

Bargello is a counted needlework embroidery worked on fabric or canvas. I usually work on 18 count mono canvas using a single strand of size 5 DMC pearl or size 5 Anchor perle thread. If I want a good coverage of stitching thread over the 18 count mono canvas then I use a size 3.

I have seen Bargello designs with various stitch lengths but they are all straight stitches though I am sure there are patterns out there that incorporate other embroidery stitches.

The stitch lengths within my Bargello designs are normally over four fabric threads with steps up/down two fabric threads. I use the shortcut 4:2 notation. 2:2 is when a stitch is over two fabric threads with steps up/down of two fabric threads. The chart below shows an example of 4:2 and 2:2 stitch lines.

I placed arrows on each stitch lines within the below chart as a reminder to work in one direction (if possible).  This is because the DMC pearl cotton thread and the Anchor perle cotton thread both have a slight sheen to them and should be worked in the same direction as you stitch.

Bargello stitch line sample

Bargello stitch line sample

Bargello Straight Stitches:

The Bargello straight stitch, to me, is the same as the Hardanger satin stitch. So often, in my booklets, I call the Bargello straight stitch a satin stitch.

The Bargello straight and the Hardanger satin stitch:

  • is a straight line stitch that does not cross over any previous stitch.
  • never pierces the fabric thread or the thread of any other previous stitch. The tip of the needle always comes up in the open space of the fabric hole, not through a fabric or stitching thread. If it does, redo the stitch.
  • even tension (as you work) the stitching thread.
  • can be vertical or hortizonal.
  • the length of each stitch on back of the fabric (canvas) is similar in length to the front side of the stitch.
Bargello straight stitch

Bargello straight stitch

Hardanger satin stitch

Hardanger satin stitch


As shown below you can work the stitches two ways. Arrows on the stitchlines indicate the direction.

The left chart marked “A” is where the stitches go in the same direction. The two above stitched examples were worked in the “A” method (which is how I normally stitch).

The right chart marked “B” is where you switch directions with each stitch. I find the only good thing about “B” is you use less stitching thread.
Cons of “B”:

  • to me it seems to wear the stitching thread quicker
  • produces a choppy closeness of the up/down of the stitching thread which adds no structure strength to the overall worked piece
  • slightly bows the stitching thread on the front side of the worked piece which makes for a wobbly looking stitch

Starting at the rightmost stitchline of the below two charts:

For “A” you come up along the long neon green line and down along the long purple line. This produces the length of each stitch on back of the fabric (canvas) to be similar in length to the stitch on the front.

For “B” you come up at the small neon green bubble, down at the top purple bubble then up at the neighboring neon green bubble and so on.

stitch direction


These photos below shown the fronts and backs of “A” and “B”. My suggestion would be for you to try it, just a few stitches like I did.

I always use “A”. Viewing the photo of the back and front views of “A” shows the stitch length is the same on front and back except for when I am stepping the stitching thread up or down.

outline foursome