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.

Needlepoint Lace Tutorial – Part 8

August 5, 2007 at 9:24 am | Posted in Lace, Tutorial | 3 Comments

During my holidays I managed to finish up that little project, and I’ll do the write-up of the last steps over the next days.

All the outline threads need to be covered with dense buttonhole-stitches. They are worked over two additional threads that are laid over the outline:
Maple Cordonette 1

It is important to work the parts that should appear in the background first, so the foreground has a continuous line at the end. In this project, the foreground is the complete seed at the top and will be worked last.

The short lines inside the seeds are worked when you come first across them. Take one of the inlaid threads to the end of the line, secure them under the outline thread there and bring it back:

Maple Seeds Cordonette 2

Now the working thread is brought to the end of the line, secured there, and buttonhole stitches are worked towards the line we started from. Here’s the finished line:

Maple Seeds Cordonnette 3

Now the main line can be continued until all outline threads are covered. Then we have the finished lace still attached to the pattern:

I wanted the straight lines that cut the seeds into halves to be symmetrical, so buttonhole stitches wouldn’t work for them. The alternative I used here is just to wrap those lines. This is ok for short lines on the inside of a project, but the outside lines around the piece should always be worked in buttonhole stitch to get good stability.

Maple Seeds - Finished on Pattern

Looks 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 form.

Needlepoint Lace Tutorial – Part 7

July 20, 2007 at 5:00 pm | Posted in Lace, Tutorial | 1 Comment

I finally finished the lace fillings:
Maple Seeds - Finished Lace Fillings

You can see more detail by clicking on the picture. The lace filling for the last seed is very simple. It is the Third Lace Stitch in the Encyclopedia of Needlework.  Buttonhole stitches are worked in groups of three next to each other, then a space of the length of 3 stitches is left. On the way back the groups of three are worked in the larger loops.

At the moment the different areas of the lace look quite indistinct. Especially the dense stitches of the seeds are running into each other, without a clear delineation between the different areas. The outline doesn’t look very clean, either. So, to finish the lace up, the outline needs to be covered with dense buttonhole stitches. Generally, a doubled up outline thread is laid along the lines before buttonholing to pad the outline a bit, and further threads can be applied to make a bigger outline. I think I’ll try this kind of relief with some of the lines in this design. The No. 20 thread will be used for the padding, and No. 80 for sewing the buttonhole stitches. See part 8 for the results.

Needlepoint Lace Tutorial – Part 6

July 15, 2007 at 6:54 pm | Posted in Lace, Tutorial | 3 Comments

As promised, I want to show you in a bit more detail how the different lace stitches are worked. First the dense stitch I use for the seeds:

Buttonhole Stitch 1

After working a row of dense buttonhole stitches the thread is laid down over the finished row and led under the outline in the same place where the row was started. The thread is then whipped once around the outline to get to the slightly higher starting point for the next row.

Buttonhole Stitch 2

In this row the buttonhole stitches are worked into the stitches of the previous row, with the needle going into the loop of the stitch and under the laid down thread as shown above. The result is a very dense fabric. This stitch was extensively used in some of the old laces for filling in the lace motifs.

The second lace stitch I’m using for the “wings” of the maple seeds is the Sixth Lace Stitch from the Encyclopedia of Needlework. It is shown there with 5 stitches worked in each loop (the illustration is actually Fig. 724, seems to be mixed up with 725) , I used only three.

In the first row large buttonhole stitches are worked between each group of three stitches of the previous row:

Fifth Lace Stitch - Row 1

In the second row three close stitches are worked into each stich of the previous row:Fifth Lace Stitch - Row 2

Most of the time the lace stitches are really just buttonhole stitches in different sizes and formations. There are endless possibilities there for combining those stitches. The books I referred to are good starting points to find out more.

In the meantime I’m almost finished with working the lace fillings. So, in the next part I hope to show you how the design looks like with all the lace stitches worked and get started with covering the outline with buttonhole stitches.

Needlepoint Lace Tutorial – Part 5

June 26, 2007 at 7:34 pm | Posted in Lace, Tutorial | 4 Comments

I have a bit of a change of plan to report. In Part 3 of this tutorial, I said I would use the number 80 Anchor Crochet Cordonnet for the lace fillings. When having a closer look, I decided to use number 60 thread since I think the number 80 would have been too fine for this. I still intend to use the finer thread for buttonholing the outline, though.

I finally have some progress to show:

Maple Seeds Lace Fillings

I’ve worked the lace fillings for the first seed and wing. Most lace stitches are variations of the Buttonhole stitch. You can find a wealth of different lace stitches for example in the Encyclopedia of Needlework by Thérèse de Dillmont, which is available from Project Gutenberg. I’ve added a link to the Crafts Bookshelf in the sidebar, where you can find more needlework books. The different lace stitches are described in the chapter on Irish Lace in the Encyclopedia. The numbers of the stitches I give below are from the “Lace Stitches” section.

The stitch used for the seed is a single buttonhole stitch worked very densely in one direction, then the thread is laid back to the start of the row and the second row of stitches worked over both the previous row and the thread. This is theNineteenth Lace Stitch in the Encyclopedia. The rows are worked starting from the center of the seed. I’ll do the second seed starting in the same manner to get a symmetrical result. What I did with the wing in something quite similar to theTwentyseventh Lace Stitch . I started in the lower right corner and worked a row of single buttonhole stitches, leading the thread back going through each stitch. For the loose row, I worked a twisted buttonhole stitch into every second stitch of the previous row, again leading the thread back to the beginning. Then I started the next row of dense buttonhole stitches, working two stitches into every stitch of the previous row. It helps to use the couching stitches of the outline to make sure the lace stitches stay where they belong.

In part 6 I’m going to show some in-progress pictures of working the fillings, so you can get a better impression of how it works.

Needlepoint Lace Tutorial – Part 4

June 17, 2007 at 6:52 pm | Posted in Lace, Tutorial | 2 Comments

In the last post, I started to sew the outline. Now it’s finished:

Maple Seed Design with finished Outline
All the lines of the pattern are covered with a doubled-up outline thread. Here’s a close up of the ending:

Outline Detail

The green arrow denotes the line I sewed down first, the black arrow shows the finishing bit. To finish up, I connected the threads to the existing outline at the red arrow, then sewing the two ends down separately. The first thread lies along the original line towards the end of the green arrow,  the second loops back towards the black arrow. The couching thread is used to attach those threads to the existing cordonnet, without sewing through the pattern. When this is finished, the couching thread goes to the back and is secured there. The ends of the cordonnet thread are cut off.

Now the next part is to work the lace fillings. Choosing those is the fun part. 🙂 Let’s go back to the original picture for a moment:

Maple Seeds

There are two differently structured areas here: The thick seed part in the center and the thin “wings” with diagonal lines. I think I’ll use a dense stitch for the seeds and a looser stitch following the direction of the diagonal lines for the “wings”.

Next time around I’ll show you how the lace stitches are worked.

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.

Needlepoint Lace Tutorial – Part 2

June 6, 2007 at 8:09 pm | Posted in Lace, Tutorial | 3 Comments

In Part 1 of this tutorial I showed you how I prepared the pattern. The next step is to sew the cardboard pattern to a piece of fabric. You need a piece of strong fabric that is quite a bit bigger than the pattern when doubled up. Double up that piece of fabric and sew around the edges so you have the two layers firmly connected.

Prepared Pattern

Now, with sewing thread, sew the cardboard to the fabric, using pretty big stitches. The picture is not very clear, but I think you can see the white thread on the brown cardboard along the edges. With this we’re all set up for working the actual lace. Starting Needlepoint Lace recommends mounting the pattern on a pillow for working on it, but I prefer to hold it in the hand.

Part 3 of this tutorial will show how to work the outline threads (cordonnet).

Needlepoint Lace Tutorial – Part 1

June 5, 2007 at 5:24 pm | Posted in Lace, Tutorial | 5 Comments

I’ve decided on a new lace pattern, something a bit more natural than the geometric patterns I’ve been doing lately. After a recent storm there were lots of those little maple seeds to be found, so I took some and photographed them lying on black paper:

Maple Seeds

Using this picture I want to walk you trough the process of making a simple needlepoint lace project as I’m doing it.

To convert the photograph into a lace pattern I printed it out out in the size I wanted, then traced the outline using transparent paper and glued this onto a piece of cardboard:

Mapleseed Lace Pattern

I probably could have done this step with some kind of image processing software, but I’m pretty sure this was faster. When working with white yarn, I recommend using dark cardboard to increase the contrast. You can also see on that picture that I already pricked holes along the lines. The whole pattern is about 10 cm wide and the distance between holes is about 3 mm. Now that I’ve scanned the pattern to show to you, I can continue with the following steps, preparing the project for actually working on it. This will be covered in Part 2 of this tutorial.

Pillow cover – backing instructions

February 21, 2007 at 8:15 pm | Posted in Patchwork, Tutorial | 3 Comments

Pillow with Ribbons

This is another one of my pillow covers. I think I already said that I like to make these because they’re just the right size for trying out new things. To make the whole process even easier, I don’t use anything complicated for closing them, so no buttons or zippers necessary! Here’s a pic of the backside of that pillow cover:

Pillow - backside

This one is nice because I used two different fabrics for the two parts, so you can see how it is made: I use to pieces of fabric that are as wide as the front of the pillow, and considerably longer than half the height, so if you line them up at the top and bottom with the front, they’ll overlap in the middle. Actually, you can see it in that picture, since the blue is darker than the green and shows through. The amount of overlap you see is about the minimum you’ll need in a 40*40 cm pillow, I usually make this a bit bigger. I seam the backing fabric only at the side that will be in the middle, usually with 2 seams. Then I layer the parts: First, the quilted front piece with right side up, then the backing piece that goes on top (the green one) with the left side up aligned on one side, then the other backing piece (the blue one) aligned on the opposite side. Pin on all four sides, taking special care of the places where the open seams will be in the middle. They should be pinned well enough to have no chance to fold over while sewing. Don’t ask me how I know! Sew with a 0.75 cm seam (if that’s your standard seam allowance) around all four sides of the pillow cover. Turn the whole thing inside out – finished!

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