Beginners Needle Lace


Beginners Needle Lace

For beginners who want to learn true needlelace. Post questions and answers here.  How to make needle lace.

Members: 218
Latest Activity: May 7

Needle Lace Patterns Books and Supplies

I have broken down our lengthy list of books, supplies and resources into several sections.  Click on the links below. 

Recommended books and videos 

Supplies and materials needed

Patterns and tutorials on this site 

Online resources at other sites 

Working Setup: in the hand and with a pillow

Photos of Beginners' Work

Working setup, various ways -   

Discussion Forum

Pillow preference 7 Replies

Started by Tina Heron. Last reply by Sandra Popek May 4, 2017.

Needlelace Tutorial - Leaf 10 - Part 2 8 Replies

Started by Lorelei Halley. Last reply by Maria Delaney Mar 1, 2017.

My first try - sampler 8 Replies

Started by Maria Delaney. Last reply by Maria Delaney Feb 27, 2017.

New and first try at needle lace - comments, please? 10 Replies

Started by Gina Shillitani. Last reply by Maria Delaney Feb 11, 2017.


Total beginner! 7 Replies

Started by 313ak82ug1b8r. Last reply by Teri Dow May 24, 2016.

bolster pillow 3 Replies

Started by e parkes. Last reply by e parkes Dec 14, 2015.

Needle Direction 11 Replies

Started by Leslie Edens. Last reply by Leslie Edens Apr 1, 2015.

I just completed my first piece, and would love feedback 7 Replies

Started by Leslie Edens. Last reply by Leslie Edens Mar 26, 2015.

Total Beginner 6 Replies

Started by Carolyn S. Last reply by Carolyn S Oct 11, 2014.

Needlelace Tutorial - Leaf 10 - Part 1 - Laying the outline threads 12 Replies

Started by Lorelei Halley. Last reply by Anneliese Perinic Sep 17, 2014.

Comment Wall


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Comment by Elizabeth Ligeti. on September 9, 2016 at 8:10pm

Catherine Barley's book is one I cannot live without!!!! However, it is not a beginners book, but is Wonderful for the more experienced.

Valerie Grimwood's book Starting Needlepoint Lace is very good for beginning -- if you can find a copy anywhere. I believe they are scarce these days.

The Guild of Needlelace's 2 books for Beginning and Intermediate are also Very good, and easily obtained from them. If you are going to buy them - get Both, as there are only about 6 or 7 pieces in each book, - but they take you through the learning process step by step, and introduce a new stitch each time. I recommend them to beginners, as they are inexpensive, and give all the necessary information clearly.  I wish they had been available when I started!! I have copies here at home, so anyone can refer to a certain pattern or page, and I have it here, so I can help if necessary. I am always happy to do that.

Comment by Yuuka Harris on September 9, 2016 at 8:02pm

I just realized I completely butchered your name! My apologies for that


That part of needlelace does excite me. When I get a bit more experienced, I want to draw up a bracelet pattern and work on it. I have a pack of clasps and closures just for making lace jewelry (I planned to use them for tatting until I discovered needlelace).

Comment by Lorelei Halley on September 9, 2016 at 4:59pm

Needlelace is especially fun when you think about designing your own work. You don't really have to be an artist. Any photo, a design from a coloring book, any simple line drawing, can be the basis for a design. And if you are designing it, you can work whatever stitches you want, wherever you want, in whatever scale you want to work -- super fine or very coarse. A lot of our members take that route.

Comment by Yuuka Harris on September 9, 2016 at 10:17am

Many thanks to Lorelai for such detailed answers to my questions! I appreciate how throrough everyone is here, you all leave very little room for getting confused or misdirected. I feel a bit more comfortable starting on the Guild of Needle Lace's mushroom pattern (I did forget to specify whose pattern it was, oops). I've been studying Michael Dennis'  YouTube videos for a deeper understanding of how the stitches I'll be using all fit together, since crafting books and diagrams alone seldom seem to come together coherently in my head enough to reproduce the projects. 

And many thanks also to Elizabeth for explaining the mysterious netting I'm always seeing :] I assumed it was already-formed mesh but it makes sense to work it during the rest of the lace. The netting is honestly one of my favourite elements of lace. It feels so sheer and wispy, like I'm holding a strong spider's web with motifs stuck to it.  

As for Catherine Barley, she is now my needlelace rolemodel! Her work is breathtaking and makes me eager to produce my first project so I can start to improve. Being half as competent and skilled as she is would make me quite satisfied. I might even order her book. I went to her website & saw Chopin. Her photos showed the whole process in stages and those were inspiring as they illustrated how logical and non-magic-y the process was. 

Needlelace is fascinating and having a community to gush over it with is wonderful. 

Comment by Elizabeth Ligeti. on September 8, 2016 at 11:14pm

Welcome Yuuka. Needlelace is Very addictive -- so be warned!!!!!!!! :)

The net backgrounds you see in pieces of needlelace is usually made with the needle , and worked into the  piece of lace before the cordonettes, or edge stitching is worked.

The wonderful piece in the photo you show, has the background net worked with the needle as the piece was made.   It is a twisted stitch, worked row by row, and is an uneven ground - one row has 3 twists on each stitch, and the next row just has 2 twists.  This is due to the way the stitch is worked - left to right on one row, and then right to left  on the next! Catherine Barley, who made this piece, is an expert, - check out her web site. Her latest piece a Chopin Etude, I think she calls it, shows an Ice skater - with the spotlight on her...! Fantastic!

Comment by Lorelei Halley on September 8, 2016 at 4:16pm


A very interesting and perfectly reasonable set of questions.

1. We often work a piece with 2 sizes of threads -- a thicker one for the outline and a thinner one for the filling stitches and for buttonholing the outline threads. Are you thinking of the mushroom pattern from the Guild of Needle Laces? Generally speaking, if you want to work a design in a thicker set of threads than the designer indicates, you would expect to enlarge the pattern somewhat. But with needle lace a perfect match in thread sizes is not so critical as it is in bobbin lace. So yes, I think you could use the threads you mention.

2. Oya is worked freeform and without a backing. It is worked in a knotted stitch. The working method is quite different from standard western European needle lace. I have a page on my personal website where I have tried to explain the different kinds of thinking involved in working some very different types of needle lace.

3. The parts of the lace that look like solid cloth are actually rows of corded buttonhole stitch, worked very close together. (However, Hungarian needle lace - Halas - actually does create sections of woven cloth by weaving the needle under and over the threads.)  The 2nd section in this bookmark is the buttonhole version. Buttonhole stitch, as a filling, can be worked very dense and close together, or with some little space between the stitches. So, if you look at examples of gros point and exmaples of point de gaze, both will have corded buttonhole sections, but the gros point will be very dense and solid, the point de gaze more open and semi transparent.

4. The only handmade net at present is the knotted square net that is used as a basis for filet lacis. There are youtube videos on how to do it. Our FILET LACIS group has links and book lists. The other hand made net is bobbin made, but nobody in her right mind would make a square yard of it (not even a square foot). It is fun to make all decorated up and fancy, but plain -- ugh.

Comment by Yuuka Harris on September 8, 2016 at 9:09am

Hello :] 

I'm new to needlelace and still trying to get my bearings for all the different types. 

I'm likely going to try making the usual mushroom beginner's pattern first, but I do have a few questions. 

1.) Can I finish an acceptable piece with just #10 Crochet Thread for the cordonnet & strong Sewing Thread for the couching stitches & filling stitches? 

2.) Is Oya worked "freeform" (no backing cloth or pattern paper)?

3.) I see certain lace pieces that seem to have solid cloth elements. Are those dense lace stitches or cut pieces of cloth?

I've added a photo for an example of #3: 

*edit* one more question: 

4.) How is handmade netting fashioned? I see machine netting, but I think I read that it can be made by hand. Does it require special tools? 

Comment by Maria del Valle on August 10, 2016 at 4:10am

Thank you so much for your advices Lorelei,they help me a lot !! and thanks to all who saw my photos.
Sorry for not responding sooner !! I was a bit away from my computer, I had some health problems, but now I'm much better and I will continue!!
I love to learn these things so beautiful!!!

Comment by Eve Hoffenkamp on July 16, 2016 at 6:19am

Thanks, reason I asked is I am also a spinner and am doing up some silk in lots of colors so will have a good selection of thread.  If I ply it it will certainly be thicker than the normal sizes of silk sewing threads but not near as thick as knitting yarn.  Like a nice fine laceweight. It comes out a bit thick and thin due to the prep of the fiber. 

Comment by Lorelei Halley on July 16, 2016 at 12:21am

Yes, absolutely. I used a fairly thick weaving linen for some of the colors in this piece. The burnt orange and the rust are 10/2 weaving linen. The others are various cotton embroidery threads, and some 20/2 linen. 

I recommend that you work up a little test swatch so you can be sure to get the effect you want. But, as I said before, when you design your own modern work, you can do whatever you want. Certainly silk would work.

Perhaps some of our members can report on which silk threads they have found most satisfying to use.

However, the IOLI annual convention starts Sunday, so a lot of our members will not be at home for the whole week. We may have some quiet days.


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