Needlepoint Lace Tutorial – Part 9

August 11, 2007 at 12:31 pm | Posted in Lace, Tutorial | 20 Comments

At the end of the last part I had a finished piece of lace still attached to the pattern. So, the next step is to remove the lace from the pattern. For this, take out the stitches that hold the doubled-up piece of fabric together first. After that, you can go on to remove all the stitching that holds the pattern and the lace to the fabric by cutting the threads between the two layers of fabric. This ensures that you don’t accidentally tear or distort the lace while removing the threads. When you’re finished with this, it should be easy to remove first the paper pattern and the lace from the fabric and afterwards the lace from the pattern. The result of this operation looks like this from the backside:
Maple Seeds Backside

You see lots of little thread-ends sticking out of the outline. These need to be removed next. A pair of pliers comes in handy here. Most of the threads should be easily removable. Sometimes, there’s a thread that’s attached to the lace so firmly that it’s impossible to remove. In these cases, I just cut them as short as possible. They’re all but invisible if the sewing thread has the same colour as the lace, therefore I always use the same colour.

When all of this is finished, all that’s left to do is to take a nice picture:

Maple Seeds Finished

As for taking good photographs, I’ve found it important to use a non-reflecting background. For this, I use a piece of black cardboard that works pretty well. When the surface is reflecting I’ve found that my cameras auto-focus has problems focusing and I get blurry pictures. The other essential for me is good lighting. Using the flash isn’t too successful and I always get problems in artificial light, so I try to get natural light whenever possible.

With this installment, we’ve followed this small piece of lace from start to finish, and I really like the result. I’m still learning a lot with each piece of lace I make, and I already have some ideas of things I want to try. But more about that later.


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  1. This is fantastic and your work is so neat and precise. This is one of the many crafts that I still wish to learn. By the way, thanks for the photography tip. I have had quite a few problems in photographing my work for my blog. I will have to give your ideas a go. Cheers.

  2. I am so pleased to have found this tutorial. I am just ready to begin my first piece of needle lace and while I thought I knew what to do, but this spells it out so clearly that I now have a step by step idea of how to proceed. I haven’t decided on my pattern yet, but your tutorial gives me an idea of what to look for in order to keep it simple.

    Thanks so much for writing it all out.


  3. How lovely, and what a beautifully written/illustrated tutorial!

  4. Beautiful work, all the more because the design is an original one. You actually taught yourself this from an online resource – amazing. Congratulations.

  5. No, actually I couldn’t find an online tutorial for needlepoint lace. I learnt from Valerie Grimwood’s Starting Needlepoint Lace.

  6. One question – how do you use these finished pieces ? Do you frame all of them as wall-pictures?

  7. ahm, no, I’d find that a bit boring. At the moment they are living happily in a box waiting for an idea. What I’m trying to do currently is to figure out ways to use those old needlework techniques for things that we would actually like to wear or use nowadays. I outlined some of my ideas about this topic in Needlework for Today.

  8. What a great tutorial – I especially appreciate the tips on putting down the cordonette.

    best regards

  9. Muchas gracias por este tutorial. He aprendido mucho con él y sé lo laborioso que debe haber sido subirlo. Mil gracias.

  10. Just a question of curiosity… why is doubled fabric attached when you already have the pattern and cardboard? Isn’t this enough support while making the lace? I have ordered books on the subject; they just haven’t arrived yet.

  11. Actually, I learnt to use the doubled up fabric from Valerie Grimwood’s “Starting Needlepoint Lace”. The booklet I had as a kid didn’t use it. My guess is that the fabric makes the whole pattern more sturdy and less likely to break. When couching down the outline thread you make quite a lot of holes into the pattern, many very near to each other. Cardboard alone wouldn’t be able to withstand this usually. The other thing I like about the doubled up fabric is the ease of taking the finished pattern off by cutting the couching thread between the layers: there’s no chance of cutting into the finished project this way.

  12. That makes complete sense! Thank you for your reply.

    As for “following” the pins back through the holes for the tacking stitches, I was visualizing this technique moments before reading your description. I’ve used the same technique when applying buttons through multi-layer fabrics. It is a great technique and, like you, have never found a better alternative.

  13. Thank you so much for your beautiful infomative tutorial. I am a new Crazy Quilter and embroiderier and have found this to be one of the most wonderfully done tutorials. Thank you again. Karol

  14. I am looking to try lace making for a project with a time constraint. How long did it take you to do this lovely piece?

    • I don’t think I measured the time it took me, since it’s a fact that needlepoint lace is about the slowest way you can use to actually make lace (no wonder it’s practically died out nowadays).

      If I had to guess, for something that small, maybe around ten to fifteen hours?

  15. Thank you! I am planning to do a bodice piece for a vintage inspired 1920’s brazier. I have about three weeks to do it. This tutorial was very helpful.

  16. I am 68 and been fascinated by all things thread-made since I was taught embroidery by my godmother. Although I have done bobbin lace , for some reason I have never got to grips with needle point or even really understood what exactly it is. Thankyou for your fantastic blog. The instructions and photos are so clear, practical.

  17. […] good already, right? In the last part of this tutorial I’ll show you how to get this off the pattern and into a presentable […]

  18. hartelijk dank voor deze lessen. Ik ga het zo proberen.

  19. […] Finishing the Project: How to remove the lace from the pattern and some photography tips […]

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