- 10 cm embroidery hoop
- A piece of cotton fabric about 20 x 20 cm
- A piece of interfacing ironed onto the cotton fabric for added support
- Two colors of DMC 6 strand embroidery floss (two different colours will make it easier to distinguish each type of stitch while learning! I have used red 3801 and blue 798)
- Size 9 sharp needle
- Size 24 tapestry needle
You can begin with a waste knot to the side of your work. This is created by placing a knot at the end of your working thread and coming down from the top of your work to the bottom with your needle. The knot should sit to the outside of the shape with a tail (to the back of your work) that is long enough to be cut and wound into your work once your stitching line is complete.
Backstitch around your circle until it is complete. Take your needle and thread to the back of your work and wind your ends into the stitches on the back for about 1.5cm. Then cut off your thread as close to your stitching as possible.
It is at this point you can also cut your waste knot off and wind your thread end into the back of the backstitch outline.
This is the only time that you will move the working thread from the back to the front of your work (unless you are bringing in a new thread, which is explained latter in Step 12). You work your lace stitches on top not into the fabric. Use your size 24 tapestry needle which is blunt on the end and will not easily pierce through your fabric or the stitches you are about to create. You will use this needle to create your needlelace stitches.
Although this backstitch line is made up of little tiny stitches, I want you to forget about this and pretend that it is one solid line that you are stitching into. Use your eye as a guide to where your stitches should go, don’t try and follow the tiny stitches.
It is at this point that you do have to be a little mindful of the small backstitch stitches. If you have not made your back stitches small enough, and take the needle and thread in and out of the one stitch (red), you will not be able to anchor your working thread (blue).
Once you get to the left-hand side of the row we again bring your needle and thread under the backstitch line to the outside of the shape. You will then come back under the line with the needle and thread to the inside of the shape to complete the next row.
Also, you cannot begin a new thread in the middle of the line of stitching with needlelace, so it is important to make sure that at the beginning of each row you have enough thread to get across. If you are unsure, lay your threads across your work and if you have approximately enough thread to get across your shape three times you will have enough thread to complete a row.
If you do not have enough thread to finish a row, bring your working thread and needle to the back of your work by piercing the fabric and wind your end into the backstitch outline then cut thread close to fabric. To bring in a new thread repeat step 4 making sure that when you bring the working thread and needle to the front of your work you have left the right width (width of the rows above) to start the next stitching row. Remember to change your needle to the size 9 sharp to bring the working thread through your fabric, but return to the size 24 tapestry when lacing.
To finish, take the working needle and thread under the backstitch line to the outside of your shape and then bring the thread and needle back into the inside of the shape. This time you go over the top of the backstitch line not under the line as you have previously. As you do this you want to catch the bottom of the loop of the pattern and wind your thread over it so it pulls in down to the backstitch line. You are whipstitching the lacing stitches to the outline of your shape.
You then take the working needle and thread that is holding the loop back down under the backstitch line and out of the shape. Come back into the shape and catch the loop a second time so it is caught twice and repeat the process.
Why do you anchor your loops down twice? By catching that loop twice you are continuing to create the ‘look’ of the pattern even though you are finishing off. It helps the work to sit nicely.
Wind then the working needle and thread (blue) into the backstitch line (red) to finish off and then cut your working thread (blue) close to your work.
Congratulations you have just created a shape filled with needlelace!
So what can I do with this stitch you may ask. Well, how about working your circle shape onto paper and repeating the steps above to create some beautiful cards. You can create a card like mine below by painting the back ground of your card and using contrasting threads to work your needlelace (or different threads like metallics) to create interesting effects.
Why stop at a circle! Oval shapes make for beautiful flower petals, fairy wings or the wings of butterflies. Go on and see where this beautiful form of lace making can take you.
My work is often three-dimensional which means that I create an outline that can be removed from the background that I am working on and then wire is added creating a supporting frame for my stitches. This I will leave for another tutorial if you are interested!
Thank you, Catherine, for this wonderful guest tutorial on Needle Lace! To see more of Catherine's designs, please visit her at catherinethomasneedlelace.weebly.com or follow Catherine on Instagram @catherinethomasneedlelace.