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: 230
Latest Activity: 18 hours ago

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

My little wings 17 Replies

Started by Michelle H. Last reply by Lorelei Halley Apr 26, 2019.

First try 12 Replies

Started by Verónica Castro. Last reply by Verónica Castro Feb 26, 2019.

needlelace 2 Replies

Started by Hannah. Last reply by Hannah Dec 13, 2018.

my first piece of needle lace 1 Reply

Started by Hannah. Last reply by Sandra Popek Dec 2, 2018.

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 Averil White. Last reply by Teri Dow May 24, 2016.

bolster pillow 3 Replies

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

Comment Wall


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Comment by Yuuka Harris on September 14, 2016 at 2:49pm

I'm a bit nervous about making my own piece, but I think this will be the week where I dive in :]

Comment by Lorelei Halley on September 12, 2016 at 4:38pm

I think the best way to answer your question is to suggest that you look at our album of contemporary needle lace. I have actually collected 4 albums of our members' work. You will see how they dealt with that problem. 

As for eyes, there are several possibilities. There are little tiny buttonholed rings that you can make and stitch on top of the lace. Or you can work a hole in the filling where the eye is. When you look through those photos, notice how others have depicted eyes. That might give you some ideas.

Comment by Yuuka Harris on September 12, 2016 at 2:50pm

Those actually did help me visualize the process beforehand :] 

Are there any stipulations for choosing line drawings as lace patterns? As in, do all the lines in the picture have to join? If the pattern has eyes, for instance, is that not a good pattern to work since you're outlining the eyes with a disjointed cordonnet that doesn't connect? 

Comment by Lorelei Halley on September 11, 2016 at 4:41pm


Take a look at the 2 tutorials I wrote and posted on this site. They are not videos, but have many photos and diagrams, and I think the explanations of why to do things are pretty clear.

Basically you start the filling by wrapping the filling thread around the outline threads to secure them. This is part of the function of the outline threads. It is also the reason behind buttonholing the outline, when all the fillings are complete. The buttonholing firmly secures the beginning and ending tails.

TUTORIAL 1 -- Plain bookmark sampler, part 1: laying the outline, corded Brussels filling

TUTORIAL 1 -- Plain bookmark sampler, part 2: more filling stitches, bars, the cordonnette



TUTORIAL 2 -- Leaf 10, part 1: laying the outline threads

TUTORIAL 2 -- Leaf 10, part 2: more fillings, buttonholing the cordonnette (outline)


As to where to start filling stitches, once the cordonnet is laid down, there is no hard and fast rule. Sometimes you want the rows to work in perfect horizontal lines. Sometimes you want the rows to follow the curve of the motif.

Whether you choose to work the GoNL mushrooms exactly as they did, or whether you choose your own, is up to you. If you look at the examples posted online I think you will see several possibilities.  For the fillings I don't think the sequence usually matters much.

For the working order on buttonholing the outline when all the fillings are complete, there is one thing to consider.  One issue is that when you have a design where some parts lie in front of other parts (like petals of a flower, some of which are conceptually on top of others) you would buttonhole the background parts first, and the "top" parts last, to enhance the appearance of layering.

Comment by Yuuka Harris on September 10, 2016 at 6:41pm

I really wish it came in pdf form :[ It's not so easy to ship things to my house and I buy most books in pdf. 

Also, after I lay down the cordonnet, how do I know where exactly my needle goes in first? I've seen videos, but I don't feel quite clear on it and I would rather know the "why" instead of just the individual "where" for that particular project

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!


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