Make your own: embroidered zipped pouch

Download this free pattern to create a striking wave-design zipped pouch, using the simplest Bargello ('Flame-Stitch') embroidery technique.

© 2017 Thames and Hudson Ltd, London

Graphic, colourful and bold, Bargello work, also known as 'flame-stitch', is one of embroidery's most distinctive techniques. Try creating your own Bargello zipped pouch – ideal for carrying cards, coins or makeup – with this downloadable pattern, designed by embroiderer Rachel Doyle:

This project and stitch guide can be found in the V&A book Embroidery: A Maker's Guide (2017).

Bargello embroidery
An example of counted-thread technique, Bargello is characterised by the use of a single type of stitch. Each stitch is worked vertically over four threads of canvas, with adjacent stitches jumping either 'two up' or 'two down' to form a regular, wave-like pattern. The origins of Bargello remain uncertain. It's been suggested that a Hungarian bride marrying into the wealthy Medici family took this style of embroidery with her to Italy in the 15th century (alternative names for Bargello include Hungarian Stitch and Florentine Stitch). What is certain is that Bargello was abundant in Florence during the Italian Renaissance, where it was used to make domestic upholstery.

(Left): Pair of shoes, unknown, 1730 – 40, England. Museum no. T.64&A-1935. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London. (Right): Chair seat (detail), unknown, 1700 – 50, England. Museum no. T.178-1925. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

The technique was popular in Britain in the late 17th- and early 18th centuries, decorating hard-wearing items such as shoes, chair seats and cushions. There are many beautiful examples in our collections. Among them, a small pin-cushion made by a young girl called Martha Edlin perfectly demonstrates the striking graphic effect that can be achieved with Bargello.

Pin cushion, Martha Edlin, 1670 – 80. England. Museum no. T.446-1990. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Rachel Doyle is an embroiderer, designer and tutor in hand embroidery. She has worked on a variety of conservation and restoration projects, as well as new commissions including the wedding dress and veil of the Duchess of Cambridge. She is the author of Canvaswork (2012), as well as contributing to Embroidery: A Maker's Guide (2017) which features more practical projects inspired by the V&A's collections.

Background image: © 2017 Thames and Hudson Ltd, London