Needlepoint Lace tutorial – Part 3

June 9, 2007 at 6:49 pm | Posted in Lace, Tutorial | 2 Comments

At the end of Part 2 I left you with the prepared pattern ready to work on. To get started, we need some working material:

Lace Threads
From left to right, we have:

  • Anchor Mercer Crochet Cordonnet 20, I’ll use this stronger thread for the outline threads (cordonnet),
  • Anchor Mercer Crochet Cordonnet 80, this will be used for the lace stitches and for buttonholing the outline,
  • and some ordinary sewing thread.

As far as possible, all threads used should have the same colour. Although in theory the outline thread will not be visible under the lace stitches and the sewing thread will be removed later, little bits of both can show up in the finished piece, so making them the same colour as the lace yarn is a very good idea.

For the first step, laying down the outline thread, you need a lenght of the thicker yarn that is more than twice as long as all the lines on the pattern. Each line has to be covered with 2 threads of this yarn. To start, I double up the length of yarn so I have a loop in the middle. A lenght of sewing thread is threaded into a fine sewing needle. This is brought up through all the layers of the pattern to come up at the starting point of the outline. The outline thread will lay on top of the pattern and be couched down by the sewing thread. After the first few stitches, the outline looks like this:

Start of the Outline
The sewing thread is brought up through each hole in the pattern, couches the lace thread down and brought down through the same hole. I often have trouble locating the hole with the sewing needle from the backside. To avoid piercing holes into the cardboard all over the place, I stick a pin into the hole from the right side to guide the sewing needle. There must be an easier method to do this, but if there is, I haven’t found it yet.

Figuring out which place to start the outline and how to proceed is a bit tricky. You want to sew as much of the outline as possible with the doubled up thread. For the smaller lines that branch from the main outline you take one thread back and forth, so at the end there are two parallel threads in those places, as well. For smaller branches I usually just take the thread to the other end, interlock it with the existing outline using either a small crochet hook or a tapestry needle, and on the way back sew both threads down. Here’s an example:

Outline 2Outline 3

In the next part, I’ll show how to finish the outline and get started on the lace fillings.


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  1. Good work would love to see more of your work

  2. I’m working my way through this tutorial, fantastic, thank you. I do have the Encyclopedia of Needlework but your photos and instructions are easier to flocating the holes from the back of the work. I don’t have a light box but I’m holding the piece up to a small bright lamp and it helps a lot!

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