Setting Up

Whether working from a hoop or from a backed piece of cloth, the first thing you need to do is draw, at the center of the cloth, a one-inch square. Use pen or pencil. This is practise. See "please note" below.

If you're using an evenweave, you needn't draw.

Once drawn, you will need to make a chain stitch around this square. This will be your foundation for the actual needlelace. If using floss, use one or two strands. Or, use the thread chosen for your lace stitches as long as it's no heavier than a cordonnet 10 or pearl 5.

PLEASE NOTE:  If you are the type of person who likes to start out BIG and work down in size because it is easier to visualize things, then rather than make 16 stitches, make 8 to the inch and make your square two inches rather than one. Keep in mind, we need sixteen stitches, so whether it is EXACTLY one inch or two inches isn't the issue. It can be in between. Not to fuss about this. If using an evenweave, just let it come out to the count you are working on. If you want a bigger chain, go over more threads. Just try to stay under two inches.

You'll make sixteen stitches in each direction. Use a long length of thread to work this foundation of chain stitches. We don't care if it gets fuzzy. The fewer anchoring, the better. To start the chain stitch, anchor your thread on the back.  Go ahead and knot - it's quicker. Some authors use other stitches for this foundation, but the chain takes more abuse. You'll probably be cutting out your lace stitches and this chain holds up to numerous handlings.

To follow the directions, we need 16 chains in each direction.  If you can't squeak 16 stitches in that inch, go ahead and make your square slightly bigger. If you are working on a muslin-type cloth and can't figure out how small to make the chain stitches, use a ruler and mark every 1/16 inch (or 1/8 inch if you are making the square larger).

Keep remembering: This is your FIRST attempt, and it is not going to be pretty. Setting up the foundation of chain is a pain, which is why I eventually learned to sew down lace tape. But once this step is out of the way, we'll be on to the good stuff. You don't even really need a foundation, as you can stitch directly into the cloth. But having this set up makes it easier to keep your rows straight and your loops the same size. It also helps you to visualize how, on a real piece, you will anchor threads at the sides and on the back.

 

To proceed with this lesson, go to Part 3 - The First Net Ground
The Art of Embroidery
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