Greetings, my lace-making comrades and skillful needleaholics,

It is such a pleasure and good fortune to have found this website and be a part of this community! My interest in lace is recently new, but strong enough that I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to try my hand in creating the magic.

The first piece I made was as per the Needlelace Made Easy video mini-series with Michael Dennis on Youtube.  A lovely little flower it was –I haven’t seen it after my three-year-old asked to have a closer look at it )))))))))))) Just as well – saves me the embarrassment of sharing my fiasco (yes, I thought after I make a flower I’d move on to a couple of collars, a doily and a few placemats ))))))))).

So, considering the experience, I decided to make a sampler to get more practice. And, as with the previous project, I thought I’d fit about six various stitches in it – ha!ha! I barely managed to sort out single Brussels! ))))))) Having read in The Priscilla Battenberg and Point Lace Book from 1912, which I am using as my guide, that it is the foundation stitch for most others, I was close to calling it quits after the first three rows ))) Nevertheless, curiosity prevailed, and while I am not entirely happy with what I’ve got, I am reasonably satisfied, as I think I’ve worked out a lot of things I shouldn’t do!

Below are descriptions of the photos attached, followed by my observations and questions with which I would like some help.

  • Photo 1 – sampler at the current stage, with sizes.
  • Photo 2, the first column – the stitch done the wrong way (instead of taking the working thread over the loop from the previous row and then through the loop in the working row, I thought I needed to try and replicate the exact same stitch as the one that makes up the odd rows. As a result, I ended up taking the needle under the loop of the previous row, which was an absolute pain in the neck, although it turned out quite pretty ))) and the loose version of the stitch done properly (the Priscilla instruction book says this stitch can be done loose or tight, but it doesn’t say how tight and how loose, so I was simply trying it out).
  • Photo 3, the middle column – the same stitch with three levels of tightness, from most tight to least tight.
  • Photo 4, the last column of the sampler – and the most presentable of all, I think. By now I started to get the hang of it, although I lost my tension a bit by the middle of the column height. I did a sacreligious thing – I adjusted the number of loops as I was going through the row instead of doing it in the beginning and end of the rows. Obviously, it is not something I would ever do in a project.


  1. It is quite hard to keep constant tension. What helped me was a description of the stitch on a website that I now cannot find – it said something along the lines that the stitch should be as wide as it is long. Basically, if I try making a rounded square, the spacing, the tension and the shape of the stitches almost works itself out and the net ends up looking like honeycomb. However, every now and then I have stitches from the bottom rows slip to the side of the loop, so I always have to hold the working thread in tight position - does anyone else have this issue or am I doing something wrong?

  2. While I prefer the tightness of the last column, I am still unsure how lose or how tight is a good practice in lace making for this particular stitch? Does anyone have photos where this stitch is actually used in a lace item, because I would absolutely love to see what it looks like done properly by someone with experience?

  3. I am not quite happy how the cordonnet is looking in the intermediate stages. I’ve seen in videos and instructions that some people whip the thread around the cordonnet at the beginning and end of the row, while others don’t. My thinking (absolutely intuitively) is that one whips as much as necessary to give the necessary space between the rows (i.e. if the stitch is tight, the working thread can just be whipped around the cordonnet once, to hold the line of the row, but if the stitch is loose, as the one I tried first, it might be better to whip it a couple of times, to keep the space between the rows). Please, tell me how wrong I am ))))) As I was going through some topics and discussions on the website, I realized, a part of my problem might be that I am using the same thread for the cordonnet and for the filling stitches! Not out of want, but out of necessity – being in the middle of an intercontinental move, all of my stuff is packed away, waiting to be shipped to a new address, so I am just using some crochet cotton a perfect stranger shared with me! ))))

  4. As you can see in the first photo, I’ve started top stitching, but I am really struggling with it. First, is the double thread that goes over the cordonnet and under the buttonhole top stitching supposed to sit on top of the cordonnet to give it volume or is it meant to sit a little to the side of the cordonnet, to even out the buttonhole stitch? Mine keeps slipping to the side. Second, I find it difficult to stick the needle in as frequently as I would like, so sometimes my top stitching has gaps or is too tight. Does anyone have any ideas about how to battle this? Finally, since my cordonnet is not evenly whipped throughout and is patchy, the top stitching is also uneven. I suppose, if I were using proper thickness of thread, it wouldn't be happening like this. Do you have any other ideas on how to solve this?

  5. I have looked at quite a few photos of antique pieces, and it seems that the Corded Brussels stitch is the one most often used to fill in big spaces. Is it really the most popular stitch for filling in spaces? Priscilla book suggests it is the easiest one – and, based on the five stitches I’ve tried, I have to agree. Is the Single Brussels stitch used much in creating lace? I haven’t seen much of it. Maybe someone can share photos of how it’s used in the works of lacemakers.

My apologies for such a lengthy post, I hope you are not asleep yet )))) I will be grateful for any comments on my modest attempt as well as regarding the questionable issues I’ve mentioned.

Many thanks,

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Replies to This Discussion


Your single Brussels stitch actually looks quite good. Very good, in fact, for a beginner. Mine was really bad. Single Brussels can be worked with differing degrees of density. For some styles it is worked close together. For others the stitches are spaced fairly far apart. If you will be working your own designs, or modern designs, you can choose what density you want to use. Also buttonhole/singleBrussels can be worked left to right or right to left.

To keep the tension even there are tricks to use. Make the stitch to the tension you want, plant your thumb firmly on the stitch so the thread doesn't move, and while doing that manipulate the needle to make the next stitch. Look at this video, and pay attention to what she does with the hand that is not holding the needle. 

Also, my explanations in my tutorial might help. 

To see how our experts space the stitch, look at our PHOTOS. Then look for an album of CONTEMPORARY NEEDLE LACE.

About whipping the beginning or ending of the lace thread -- you are right. How many whips depends on how far apart and how tall you want your stitches to be; close together for short rows, farther apart for tall rows.

The purpose of the double (triple or quadruple) thread laid on top of the outline as you buttonhole it is to smooth out the surface of the cordonnet. If you are right handed, it will work best to do the buttonholing right-to-left. That way your left thumb can coax the laid threads to cover the bumpy outline and smooth out the finished appearance.

And yes, just about everybody agrees that corded or whipped Brussels is the easiest stitch, much easier than just plain single Brussels. It is easier to keep the tension even and the rows neat. In all antique laces (as far as I know) the dense parts are worked in corded Brussels, some times with holes for decoration.  Single Brussels is actually one of the most difficult stitches to do well.

You are doing very well for a first try. Congratulations.  - and Welcome to a wonderful Addiction!!!! :)

Corded Brussels is the easiest stitch as it is all one way for the stitching, and just a straight return for the odd rows, so the awkward stitching the wrong way - right to left if you are a right-hander - is eliminated, and you can work on the tension with you 'normal' way of working.

I suggest you try to purchase the Guild of Needlelaces 2 books - Basic Technical,  and Intermediate  - - very pale green, and a mid green covers - they are excellent for starting out on this craft. You do Not have to be a member of that Guild to purchase the books.  Get the 2 at the same time, to save on postage, as there are only 6 or 7 projects in each book, - but good, clear diagrams, and detailed text for each project.  Well worth buying, and will help you, I am sure.  They teach a variety of the most used stitches, and show them used in the projects.

Dear Lorelei, 

Thank you for your comments. Whew, I can let out a sigh of relief ))))))) 

I've looked at the videos you've shared, and it looks like intuitively I've come up with almost the same solution - if I hold the working thread in the right position, then the stitches turn out more even and the loops stay where they should. Not sure why this bothered me - maybe because I thought all lace makers do what fairy godmothers do: wave their hands in swift motions and magic happens! )))))))))

I am still struggling along with buttonholing, but I am sure I just need some practice (five meters at least! ))))

And thank you for the reference to the albums on the website - I've just had a peak and it looks like I am going to be stuck looking at all those beautiful and interesting things for days!

Dear Elizabeth, 

Thank you for your comments. And yes, addiction seems to be the right word )))

Thanks for the suggestion on the books - I've actually been quite frazzled at the choice of literature, as there seem to be so many good books people reference. Will definitely look into the two you've mentioned!

Yes there are now lots more books on Needlelace to choose from. Another good Beginners book is Starting Needlelace by Val. Grimwood. that has a variety of stitches, and good diagrams.  Just get a couple of these Beginner books, work from them, and get to understand what you are doing, then you can evaluate and choose more advanced books. There are so many different needlelaces, so it is better to get to know the craft before spending a lot of money buying books on a type that you find you don't like very much!!


Yes, I know exactly what you mean. I get so overwhelemed and I want everything!!!!!! And then as the time goes by, I realize that some literature is not that useful, or information repeats itself, or it is not what I need. This time I promised myself I would be sensible ))))))   And thank you for yet another suggestion!

Maria, do consider taking advantage of the Encyclopedia of Needlework by Theresa de Dillmont. You'll find an online link to it here on the site. I'd find it for you but unfortunately time is against me at present. There are a good range of comprehensive needle lace stitches there to whet your appetite...

Dear Teri, greetings. 

Thank you for the mention of the book. I've seen it on a different website, but thought I would have a look at it later - going back now! ))))) 


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