Stitches of Point de Gaze Needle Lace

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The Stitches of Point de Gaze and How They Are Used:

I have long had a project in mind, to search through all the photos I could find of point de gaze and make sketches of all the various motifs I found, with indications of which stitch was used where, to form a set of possible variants of working methods and motifs that were an accepted part of the traditional  style.  If I ever get good enough at making this kind of needlelace, I'll then know how to design it in the traditional manner, or design completely modern pieces which still use the traditional methods.

To understand what stitches were typically part of this historic form of needlelace (last half of the 19th century) first look at two very good books and an online article:

Both of the books have chapters devoted to the stitches used in certain historic needle lace styles,  and both include chapters on point de gaze.  Barley also gives full and detailed instructions for working some pieces of her design, for those who want to learn that form.  I won't repeat the work that they have done very well already.  What I want to do is clarify the range of ways that lacemakers worked this particular style..  How many different kinds of flowers and what different sets of stitches were chosen in their work?  I'm working with photos in books, photos I find on the internet (when they are clear enough to see the stitches) and the few actual laces I have.

As I learn more I may discover mistakes in what I have written here, so this will be an ongoing project, being updated as time passes.  I welcome comments from others fascinated with this historic style of lace.  Please join the conversation at .  I intend to go through the other sources I've mentioned below to describe any new motifs and stitches I see there.

From what I can see point de gaze uses these stitches:

Stitches used in point de gaze 
corded single Brussels stitch  buttonhole stitch with straight return
detached buttonhole with straight return
corded buttonhole stitch

 Corded single Brussels, dbh sr also called

buttonhole stitch with straight return,

detached buttonhole with straight return (dbh sr),or

 corded buttonhole stitch.  This is the most frequently used stitch for the dense motifs and design areas of needle lace.  The spacing can be very close together or moderately close together:  very close in gros point, moderately close in point de gaze.

corded bh

dbh sr

bh sr
   Two twists -- English stitch

English stitch - buttonhole stitch twisted 2x  English stitch - 3 twist buttonhole stitch
  Twisted buttonhole, twisted 2 times, also called English stitch.  This version, where each row is stitches, is another difficult one to do well.  
  Two twists  whipped -- whipped English stitch

whipped English stitch - row 1  whipped English stitch - row 2  whipped English stitch - row 3
whipped twisted buttonhole stitch (tw 2x) Whipped twisted buttonhole, twisted 2 times, whipped, tw2 bh wh

whipped English stitch

The whipped version is much easier to make neatly.

 point de gaze oth216  oth216 216h

This piece is from my personal lace collection, a fragment of 1 1/2 repeats, about 3-4 inches deep.  Many shots of it may be seen on my website on the needlelace gallery page.

This photo shows the cordonnet, loosely buttonholed, the very light twisted buttonhole ground, and some other motifs.  Click on the thumbnail to get good detail, but if you tell your computer to enlarge the screen to 150% you will get even better detail.  In the lower right hand corner is an 8 petaled star pr flower embedded in a circle.  The circle is lined with one row of whipped twisted bh.  The 8 petals are covered with close buttonholing and the center of the motif is a closely buttonholed ring.

In the upper left hand corner is a small 5 petaled flower that we can only see part of.  Three of the petals are corded single Brussels and the other 2 are twisted bh, I can't be sure if it is whipped, but I don't think so.  There is a dense spot in the middle of the transparent petals.  These 2 motifs are ones I have seen in several pieces.

I the upper right hand quadrant is a set of twigs with 2 sided buttonhole, (the stitches from both sides dovetailing).  The ground lies behind the twig which is on top of the ground.  Initially I thought that this meant the twig was added after the ground was done.  In the lower left quadrant is another twig with some bh rings at the tips.  At first I thought that the ground lies on top of this twig, implying that the twig was laid down along with the cordonnet and the ground was worked on top of it.  The buttonholed ring on top of the twig is clearly above the ground -- was made after the ground, or on top of the ground.

Liz Ligeti says that the usual method of working the twigs is that they are part of the cordonnet and are couched down first.  As the tw bh ground is worked it is anchored to the cordonnet twig, some ground rows anchored from one direction, and the far side ground anchored from the other direction.  The twig would then be finished by working buttonhole stitch on top of it from 2 sides, after first padding with several very thin threads.  She opined that in this piece it looks like the work is unfinished, and the lacemaker never got around to working the buttonholing on top of all the twigs -- many were just left naked.  On looking closely one can see, in fact, the ground stitches connect to the twig, half from one direction and half from the other.  The ground is not continuous, ignoring the presence of the twig, but the twig provides a way to work short ground rows.  It functions as a kind of pivot point when working the ground.  But her explanation does make sense.  So perhaps sometimes the ground was worked over the twig -- ignoring it -- and sometimes was anchored to it. See her response at her comment of July 7, 2010.

oth216i 216i

Here is another portion of the same piece.  In the twig in the center, with 4 leaves attached, it looks like the ground lies on top, but actually the ground hooks onto the twig from both directions.  So the twig was put in first, probably with the rest of the cordonnet, and when the ground was worked the twig served as a partial boundary -- a piece for the ground to anchor onto.  The curly twig coming off the petal -- upper right -- has 2 sided tw buttonhole covering it loosely.  Most of the petals and leaves are corded single Brussels, their outline threads are covered with the bundle of extra threads, which are then loosely buttonholed.

oth216m  oth216n  tw bh 2 sided

The twig left has two sided tw buttonhole covering it. The thickness of the twig forces all the twists near the bead.  At first glance it looked like up and down buttonhole (Ardenza stitch), but in this photo you can see that they are single twisted buttonhole stitches spaced so that the stitches lie right next to the stitches from the other side of the twig, with a space between every pair of stitches.  The ground is clearly alternating rows  between 2 twists and 3 twists.  The twig in the right hand shot is loosely buttonholed in single Brussels, on one side only.  And you cannot see the ground threads on the twigs: they lie under the padding threads laid on the twigs.

oth216j Here is a photo of the major flower.  underlayer of major flower Here is a diagram of what I think is in the underlayer.

The petals are divided into a near-the-center-section and an edge-section.  Most of the edge sections are corded single Brussels, but 2 are tw bh with a spot in the center (see Barley for how to do that).  The sections near the center are empty rings or scallops with a spider (small wheel or web) on a spoke grid.  Some of the spots look like woven spiders but some appear to be rings that are coming apart, perhaps they were intended to be buttonholed. The cordonnet is loosely buttonholed, some twigs serve as ground boundaries, some have 2 sided tw bh.

The layered petal has an outline of twisted buttonhole with the bead facing outwards.  That is, the outer edge of the cordonnet is clearly tw buttonhole, not single bh.

There is also a flat point de gaze edging on the gallery page oth 202 and another with layered flowers oth204.  Both are from the collection of Doris O'Neill.

Also see  and     . Although many are of my piece oth216 described above, there are some other antique point de gaze and also some made by members of needlelacetalk.

I will add analysis of these pieces at some future time.

Barley has photos of several pieces of point de gaze in her book, some sufficiently close up to distinguish the stitches used.  The same lappet shown on page 53 also appears in greater detail on page 57, 70, and 104.  From some of these I have drawn little motifs indicating what stitch was used where.

Barley page 57 Barley page 57.  #17 page 104 Barley page 104

I've color coded the little sketches to show where the various stitches appear.  Point de gaze appears to be almost exclusively twisted buttonhole, sometimes whipped and sometimes not, and corded single Brussels, usually worked a little less densely than in gros point.  The dense parts are sometimes lightened by a 4 hole bud, or by a single partial row of twist bh.  there are also double scrolls, where two scrolls face each other leaving a space between them.  These spaces are usually filled with decorative complex circles (modes) or small bh rings but may have fillings laid on a square grid, twigs, or a row of spiders (point d'Angleterre).  I'm leaving out of the discussion, for now, the fancy rings and the fillings laid on a grid.  They are well described in Earnshaw and Barley.  Right now I'm just focusing on how the motifs were made.

Some, but not all, leaves and flowers have the outer edge of the motif lined with one row of wh tw Brussels (#2,3,4).  In some flowers some petals may be entirely tw bh (some with spots added), and some may be half tw bh and half corded single Brussels, divided vertically (#1).  The large flower - #1 - also has some very small petals worked in another stitch.  I can't tell if it is dbl Brussels, dbl tw bh, or possibly double point de Venise (knotted buttonhole, knotted behind). ( If it is knotted bh, it looks like the kind consisting of 2 bh stitches, with another then worked on the loop behind the 1st of these two.)  Some petals and leaves show corded bh just inside the outer perimeter, with tw bh nearer the interior of the leaf or petal (#2,3,4).  Sometimes the petal or leaf may be filled in straight rows, but the rows contain stitch changes from corded bh to tw bh.  Sometimes veins in leaves and petals are 2 sided buttonholed cordonnet (#3), and sometimes just one row of tw bh embedded in an area of solid corded bh (#4).  Then there is another kind of 6 or 8 petaled small flower (#5) with one row of wh tw bh lining the cordonnet and one row of plain bh worked into the lining of tw bh, with a dense bh ring in the center.  And there are twigs with closely buttonholed rings at the ends of the twigs and the twigs are  bh worked on 2 sides (#6).

I have also found motif 17 on more than one lace.  It is a narrow leaf filled with tw bh.

The photos in Barley on pages 73 and 90 are from the same piece.

Barley page 73 Barley p.73  Barley page 90 Barley p. 90.

7: a layered flower.  The petals of the underlayer are scalloped into 3 sections along the edge.  In the center of each petal is a cordonnet covered with 2 sided bh.  The petals themselves are corded single Brussels in the outer half of the petal, and tw bh with random spots for the inner half.  As with many point de gaze flowers part of the center is outlined by a string of small connected rings, closely buttonholed.

8: is a small flower with petals in solid corded single Brussels.  The center ring is lined with one row of wh tw bh and is otherwise empty.

9: is also a small flower, but the petals are tw bh with one spot each, and again the center ring is lined with one row of wh tw Brussels.

10. is a medium large leaf of several sections.  Sections are alternately corded single Brussels and tw bh with spots.

11. is a small sprig with 4 leaves filled with corded single Brussels.  The center vein has a few medium size rings, one touching the next, filled with corded single Brussels.

14. is a medium size leaf -- one half is tw bh with a spot, and the other half is corded single Brussels.

15 A sprig with the twigs loosely covered in buttonhole worked on 2 sides.   Some small corded bh leaves, some twigs topped by closely buttonholed rings arranged in a straight line or like tiny buds.

Barley page 79 Barley p. 79.

12 A medium size flower with petals alternating between corded single Brussels and tw bh with one spot.

13. A large flat flower with some petals in corded single Brussels and some in tw buttonhole.  Part of the center has a series of connected rings, closely buttonholes.

Barley page 101 Barley p. 101

16 is a large leaf with center and side veins covered closely in 2 sided buttonhole but I can't tell if it is Ardenza bars or just single buttonhole.

Barley page 111 Barley p. 111

18 is a medium small leaf with central vein covered in 2 sided bh, but again I can't tell if it is Ardenza bars or plain bh bars.  The filling is worked in straight rows but the stitch changes within the rows from corded single Brussels to tw bh to suggest shading.  I've seen this kind of filling in several different pieces of point de gaze in several different shapes of leaves or petals.

Barley has other photos of point de gaze, including pages 68, 79, 101, 105, 111.

I will be adding analysis of those below at some future time.

Nenia Lovesey THE TECHNIQUE OF NEEDLEPOINT LACE, 1980, Larousse & Co., Inc. New York also shows several photos of point de gaze.

14 37   98 129


36 90 104 105 same piece


39 & 40 same piece


131 132 same piece


These two below are different pieces.

92 inverted pyramids in tw bh, wh tw bh in 4s.


16 (a fan)


128  This is the same piece as on page 106 of Lovesey's CREATIVE DESIGN IN NEEDLEPOINT LACE.

Nenia Lovesey CREATIVE DESIGN IN NEEDLEPOINT LACE, 1983, Batsford, London

107 not detailed enough

109 not detailed enough

Catherine Barley's sampler 4, showing fancy ring fillings:

Her gallery of point de gaze laces that she has made: 

Her simple motifs and samplers: by our members  antique point de gaze

Last edited:   01/19/20