Make It Rain(bow) Bargello Quilts!

Before we start off, I have to admit after writing that last post, I feel a little lame writing this one with no plans of inserting any rainbow-inspired puns into it. Oh, the hue-manity! (HAH, now I feel better. Carry on.)

Yes, you read that title correctly. Quilts, as in the plural form of quilt, as in I was crazy enough to make more than one of these insanely glorious quilts. BUT, I’m really happy I did, because now I can compare and contrast what works best and what to avoid if YOU ever choose to do this!

Back in my quilting infancy, when I thought I’d do this blog for more than just me, I found a post by Krystal Jakelwicz over at Lets Quilt Something.And seriously, when I mean in my infancy, I’m talking… 2 and a half, almost 3 years ago. But I’ve always, ALWAYS been a huge fan of colorful things, especially quilts, and I just couldn’t get this one out of my head. So I bought the two jelly rolls that you need for this quilt, opened one jelly roll and… didn’t do it for 2 years.

((NOTE: It was brought to my attention that the above links no longer work. I wrote up a very rough pattern which you can find on the pattern page based on what I remember. Please email me with any questions.))

But, this year my quilt guild started a “UFO Challenge” where you put in a fat quarter into a pot and for every UFO you complete you get one entry into possibly winning the pot. So I pulled it out finally and started putting it together.


Here’s a word of warning- when sewing strips together, of ANY length, make sure to switch the side you start sewing on every other strip. What I mean by that is that if you sew down the right side of a strip first, when attaching another strip to that first one, make sure you’re sewing from the OPPOSITE end. Otherwise, you wind up with a strip that bows out in the middle. And when the quilt calls for putting ALL 42 of the jelly roll strips together, you get a HUGE bow.

This was an issue because when I went to go cut the strips for the quilt, they weren’t straight. And when I say not straight, I mean the rainbow strips were more curved than a real rainbow. You can even see the puckering of the already attached strips where they didn’t meet up well- it was SO BAD. It made sewing the strips together unbelievably frustrating!! I wanted to quit 10 different times! But I’m no quitter.

It became a huge problem; to the point that by the second jelly roll I could no longer use the strip set. (Fear not, I found a different use for all that bowed fabric, as seen in my earlier A Happy Accident post!) I ended up using what I could from the second jelly roll and then just buying a 3rd one to use. Take a look at the difference below from when you sew them all the same direction versus when you sew them on in ALTERNATING directions:

Do you see the curve of those strips in the first picture?! It was awful. Learn from my mistake. Don’t do it. But the 3rd time was the charm; they went together very prettily and were MUCH straighter than the first two times. They weren’t perfect, but I think that just was because when you’re putting together 42 strips, the sheer weight of the fabric will cause a little bowing.

But, finally, the quilt came together, and I posted it on Facebook, so proud of myself. I chose a pink backing (because I love pink) and a swirling quilting pattern. I have to admit, I thought the pattern would be smaller to hit more of the top’s pieces, but it’ll be alright.

Not twenty minutes later after posting my finished quilt on Facebook, a friend contacted me and asked if I’d be willing to make her one too. And even though I wanted to bang my head on the wall, curl into a fetal position and cry, I agreed- and I am SO glad I did!

She chose to have her quilt backed in a gorgeous deep blue that matched one of the strip colors perfectly. And for her quilting pattern she chose a wave; this pattern had a much higher density, and I think really matched well with the “flow” of the quilt top. Hers is a stunning, STUNNING quilt, and if I didn’t have to give it to her because she paid me for it already, I’d keep it and put it in quilt shows. Want to see?

Having the chance to make the quilt again, I was able to avoid all the mistakes I made the first time around and make a much better quilt! Rather than posting the whole set of directions (just go to Krystal’s blog for the main directions), I will post just my “tips” for a quilt that comes together much more easily.

Tips for an Easy(er) Rainbow Bargello Quilt

  • On her website, Krystal tells you to start with the 1” strip. I found that starting with a 1” strip meant that the seams weren’t long enough, got stressed/pulled/unraveled super easily. So I recommend starting with a MINIMUM of 2”
  • For quilt #2, I started with 3.5” strips and worked down to 1 1/4” then back up. This way you get two ‘waves’ instead of just one. I enjoy the overall pattern of the second quilt more than the first one.
  • I got rid of the 1” strip altogether. The lowest I went was to 1  1/4” strip; I found that that helped prevent the seams from pulling apart.
  • If you DO wind up having a small strip where the seams are pulling apart, you can always attach a couple of strips to that side instead of the end. That is why the first quilt has 5 strips in front of the smallest part; I put those on at the very end to help keep that darn 1” strip from entirely coming apart!

Also, I got some quilt labels made on Etsy; and I absolutely LOVE them! Take a look! Ignore the stray threads; I clipped them after the photo… Oops!


30 thoughts on “Make It Rain(bow) Bargello Quilts!

  1. Anita Knight-Barnes says:

    I love your quilt. I have 3 jellyrolls on order. I would like to make this 98×98, but do not know how to enlarge it. Do I add strips to the tube I.e, 50 instead of the 42 from the jellyroll? Please let me know your thoughts. Thank you.


    • Jessica L. says:

      Hmm… This quilt wasn’t designed by me, (the link to the original creator is in the post) but I THINK to make it closer to square you’ll just make 3 sets of strips and add them together. Keep each tube at the original 42 and just do three. The length winds up being 96” (very close to your 98”) and the width of just two around 63”, so adding one more jelly roll SHOULD bring the quilt very close to square.

      Hope this makes sense! Happy quilting, and share photos when you’re finished! I bet it’ll look gorgeous!!


      • Anita Knight-Barnes says:

        Okay, next question. I am getting ready to start cutting the tubes (I don’t know why but the top has me terrified). I understand when I start tube two I continue on with the next measurement on the list, but what about color. I started tube one with purple and the last color was cream. Do I start tube two with purple again or continue with the color that follows cream?


      • joe and anita barnes says:

        [Image] Still needs border, but finished the main part. Get Outlook for iOS ________________________________


  2. Ulla says:

    Have sewn all the strips together and am ready to make the tube and cut. Do I double fold the tube? It is massively wide and would too hard to cut! Any advice would be appreciated.


    • Jessica L. says:

      I folded my tube twice- but you have to be very careful cutting since the layers are more likely to shift when you cut this way! I made one or two cuts, then I’d check before cutting again. Good luck! This is the trickiest part!


      • Denise M says:

        I also folded mine twice but then used painters masking tape to hold the fabric to the cutting board. Doesn’t harm the cutting board or fabric. Works a treat the fabric doesn’t shift if you need to move the tube along the cutting board use some tape on the cut edge to keep the edges in place. The masking tape will stick again no need to change it. The added bonus was for each cut I had a piece of green tape to number each cut (just in case) and stick it to the wall as I went and was able to see the pattern emerge.


  3. Gardner44 says:

    I’m getting prepared right now to make my first rainbow bargello quilt and I was wondering about the one inch and 1 and 1/4 inch strips. They seem so pointless to me when they’re not repeated in the pattern, at least the pattern I’m using they’re not. I’m going to ditch them completely.

    Your quilts are gorgeous! I’m doing mine out of denim, wish me luck, lol


  4. Barbara Kipnis says:

    I’m also looking for the missing instructions! Beautiful quilt, and I love the wave pattern. I just finished my first bargello (after a class at AQS Daytona) and this would be a perfect second.


  5. Glenys Donaldson says:

    I’ve had this on my list for ages. I saved most of the instructions from the one that’s gone now, Krystal at Letsquiltsomething. And read the comments there too… Like you say, she started her strips at 1″ then only down to 1 1/2 ” each time for the narrowest and up to 3 1/2 ” for the widest.
    Then, just to confuse things, someone in the comments suggested or actually did it, went down to 1″ each time for the narrowest and 3 1/2 ” for the widest. I’m at the cutting stage now and not sure what to do so I think I’ll go down to 1 1/2″ and see if it needs some more narrower ones before I get to the end of my strips. By the way, Jessica, I do like yours !!
    What has anyone done?


  6. LeAnn G Kirkpatrick says:

    If you only have 12 colors and you cut and lay the strips the same; 3.5″ and decreasing to 1″ and then back up again to 3.5 I feel like you will get the same wave pattern effect. Is this true? I would love a response to this question!
    Thanks. LeAnn


  7. Glenys Donaldson says:

    I finished it!! I went from 3 1/2″ down to 1 1/4 “. I used different jelly rolls but they were pretty close. One was Kona solids, not sure of the other one, but they paired up very well. I had a few strips left over that I couldn’t pair up so used the dark ones for binding along with some strips from my stash. Wish I could put a picture on here…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jessica L. says:

      Congratulations on finishing, that’s very exciting! I wish you could post photos too; I’d love to see it!

      Have you tried uploading to imgur or somewhere similar and then sharing the link?


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