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Use Paper Scraps to Create a Bargello Card

Today we are looking at a simple way to use some of those beautiful paper scraps we all collect.  You know you have them, stashed in a draw, bucket or folder, all those pretty pieces you couldn't throw away because they were too lovely, the paper was expensive or you might use that one day...
Well, that day is today - so go and grab those fabulous paper scraps and join me in making a paper Bargello card - Sparkle Tart style.

  Bargello wm


What's Bargello?

Bargello is a traditional type of needlepoint embroidery with a mathematical pattern/design created by an arrangement of flat stitches, most famously seen in the Italian Bargello palace, on some very beautiful chairs, WIKI has more information on the history of Bargello if you are interested.

Over time the Bargello technique has evolved and is now used by quilters, paper crafters, and artists of all kinds.  Today we will be looking a Paper Bargello, where we will use paper strips arranged in sets, then cut and ordered to create a geometric design - the inspiration for the colour scheme I've used came from Cindy Grisdela who creates stunning quilts.  

A Bargello pattern can be as simple or as complex as you like, there are hundreds if not thousands of Bargello patterns available online, have a look though be prepared to lose a few hours!

  Paper Bargello Card-2a copy



  • To begin you will need 6 different colours/patterns of paper, card or washi tape.  You will need one central piece - I chose gold glitter washi for mine!  Cut eleven strips all 1.5cm wide by 16.5cm long - make sure you have 1 strip of the central pattern (eg: gold glitter) and two of each of the other colors or patterns.   

    Paper Bargello Card-1a

  • Lay your strips with the boldest in the center, with a little colour either side, then a black pattern and then fading out to palest colours, so you have a pale at either end and colourful and gold in the middle - this is just the look I have chosen for this card - you can of course play and come up with your own color scheme.

    Paper Bargello Card-6a copy

  • Cut a piece of double-sided adhesive paper into a square 16.5 x 16.5cm and stick your papers onto this in the pattern you have laid out  (after pulling off one side of the protective backing). Place them as close together as possible without overlapping. You should not be able to see or feel any of the sticky paper underneath. Continue to stick down all 11 strips - your pattern should look similar to mine.  Trim off any overhanging papers.

    Paper Bargello Card-7a copy

  • Using a paper cutter or ruler & sharp craft knife, cut your square into 15 strips, make sure you cut across the papers so you end up with strips that look similar to the image below.  Your strips should measure:  2 x 2cm,  2 x 1.5cm,  6 x 1cm  and 5 x 0.7cm.  
    Once cut to size, organise them with the skinniest strips in the middle, and the wider strips to the outsides - you can then begin playing and deciding on your pattern - I'm going with a wave pattern.

    Paper Bargello Card-8a copy


From here it's easier to SHOW you the process rather than tell you about it - so please watch this step by step video for how to create the wave pattern.


When you have finally added the last strip - trim your card base to the size you want and layer your bargello onto some coordinating card stock.   

Paper Bargello Card-3a copy

I've also added a ribbon and an embossed word to mine to complete the look. 

  Recycled Paper Bargello Card-9b wm

  Recycled Paper Bargello Card-11b wm


OK, these might be simple, but they're useful :o)

  • If right handed begin sticking strips from the left and if left handed begin sticking strips from the right.
  • Line up pattern according to central strip of bargello - it's easier if the center is something unique
  • Keep cuts as straight as possible, if you make a mistake don't worry just - add an embellishment over it, add embossing powder or my absolute favourite apply gold leafing, foil or glitter to disguise any imperfections! 
  • If you would like to try different Bargello patterns have a look at Pinterest, there are some amazing patterns if you have the patience!  You could also purchase a Bargello quilt pattern and adapt it to a smaller scale.

Recycled Paper Bargello Card-4b wm


  • 6 colours of card stock or washi tape (I like colours that co- ordinate well, you could also go for contrasting colours, or a colour theme eg: rainbow, sea scapes, desert etc.) If you don't have a huge choice of card, use pale card and colour with pigment or dye inks before you stamp.
  • Card to mount bargello onto when finished, can co-ordinate with bargello colours or stark black for dramatic effect - I went with aqua, raspberry and black
  • Adhesive paper - I use double-sided adhesive sheets from XPress It
  • Scrap card 
  • Ribbon
  • Heidi Swapp wooden word
  • Paper cutter or cutting mat & sharp craft knife