Everywhere I look, I see a zig zag or flame stitch that is interpreted from bargello embroidery. I see it in apparel, stationery, home furnishings, accessories and even covers of iphones. It is like the Summer of Love again. The colors are bright and the designs are sharp. Sure, Missoni has been using fun stylized interpretations of it for years, but is seems to now be transcending age and taste schisms, emerging as a more widely accepted trend.

We had the electric sock-it-to-ya bargello vests and flame stitch maxi-skirts of the 60’s and early 70’s that were popular among young adults and then they morphed into rather boring and refined monochromatic upholstery wovens before collapsing and retreating into hibernation for a several years.

According to Wikipedia, bargello is a type of needlepoint embroidery consisting of upright flat stitches laid in a mathematical pattern to create motifs. The name originates from a series of chairs found in the Bargello palace in Florence, which have a “flame stitch” pattern. Traditionally, Bargello was stitched in wool on canvas. Embroidery done this way is remarkably durable. It is well suited for use on pillows, upholstery and even carpets, but not for clothing. In most traditional pieces, all stitches are vertical with stitches going over two or more threads.

Traditional designs are very colourful, and use many hues of one colour, which produces intricate shading effects. The patterns are naturally geometric, but can also resemble very stylised flowers or fruits. Bargello is considered particularly challenging, as it requires very precise counting of squares for the mathematical pattern connected with the various motifs to accurately execute designs.

Just as with ikats, suzanis and some of our “a la mode” textile favorites, bargellos weaves are reinterpreted as prints or less difficult woven designs, but the sentiment and intent remain. I have to give a huge nod and smile toward Jonathan Adler on this trend. He recently introduced the happiest line of real deal bargello dec pillows and home accessories. That boy puts a playful spin on everything he creates. let’s take a look as the flame stitches, waves, zig zags and bargelloesque items out there.

Let me know your thoughts and please share anything special you have come across that fits the bill.

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