Needle Lace Tutorial 2 -- Leaf
(Needlelace Instructions)

 © 2011 Lorelei Halley    This may be copied for personal use, but not for any commercial use.  Nor may it be copied to any website or other internet site.  Links are welcome.

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The pattern for this tutorial was drawn by Lenore English, by tracing around an actual beech leaf, and adding some veins.  Lenore has given me permission to use it here.   Any kind of sketch or drawing or photograph can be used as a basis for a needle lace design.


If you decide to start with this leaf tutorial, instead of the bookmark, you should carefully review the first half of the instructions for the bookmark tutorial.  All the basics of setting up, how to attach the cordonnet to itself, how to hold the work to achieve good tension -- all are explained in greater detail there.    Bookmark Tutorial 

needlelace leaf 10  


Medium size sharp needle and ordinary sewing thread for couching.

Thimble (for couching)

Tapestry needles (or other blunt pointed needles) for the actual lace work.  Have sizes 20-26 on hand and you will always have something that will fit your chosen thread.

2 pieces cloth about 6 x 8 inches (15 x 20 cm) for temporary backing.

Plastic film to stick over the pattern.

Print the pattern on colored paper if you plan to use white or ecru thread.


Large size:  I printed Lenore's leaf 10 enlarged to 170% of its original size so it is approximately 6.75 inches or 17 cm long.  For this size I used pearl 5 as the outline thread and crochet cotton size 30 ecru, pearl 12 dark ecru, and Egyptian cotton 24/3 - white - as the lace threads. You will need a cordonnet thread about 6 feet long (2 meters), folded at about 1/3 of its length.

Small size: If you prefer to work on a fine scale, print the pattern at the original size.  I think DMC crochet cotton #10 would work as outline thread and tatting cotton as the lace thread.

leaf 10 diag
leaf 10ad
various cordonnet junctions

For the enlarged pattern I used, I cut a length about 6 feet long, and folded it at about 1/3 of its length.  The long side will be the inner thread of the pair, the short side will be the outer of the 2 threads.  Print a copy of the map for reference.

Place the fold at the bottom of the stem and place couching stitches, spaced about 2mm apart, up to the tip of the leaf.   You can use either leaf 10 diag or  leaf 10ad. I think leaf10adiag is better.  In the diagram I changed colors when the threads took on separate paths, so it would be easy to see which thread did what.  But the cordonnet is one continuous thread, folded.  Below are photos showing the stages of laying the cordonnet.

You might wish to review the kinds of junctions used in the bookmark sampler.



1. Start at the bottom of the stem - a - and follow the path a-b-c-d-e-f-g.  

1st junction at E At g, take the inner thread to the central vein and hook it around the central vein at e. 
Take it back through the couching stitches. Then take it back through the couching stitches towards g, 
It rejoins its mate on the outer edge. where it rejoins its mate.
All the junctions onto the central vein. OTHER JUCTIONS WITH CENTRAL VEIN

2. The junctions at d and c are made similarly.  Follow the diagram for the junction at b.  Then make junctions at c and d from the other side.

3. The last 2 junctions from j to e and from j to f to e are a little odd.  I did them that way to avoid creating a bulky lump at the leaf tip where it would be too visible. 

For  j to e  take the inner thread to e and hook it onto the center vein, then take it back the way it came and drop it.
j - f - j - e --  Last 2 Junctions    ending the cordonnet For j to f  take the outer thread to f, hook it onto the central vein, take it back down to j, then take it to e and slip it between the pair of central vein threads.  I then laid it between those threads toward f.  You can now cut the two tails, leaving about an inch or a little more.
Review the first half of the bookmark tutorial for how to achieve good tension. THE LACE FILLING STITCHES

You don't need to work the same lace filling stitches that I did.   You might want to repeat some from the bookmark sampler, or perhaps some others from my page of needlelace stitches.   Another source for stitches is the DMC Encyclopedia available online.   Chapter 13 contains the stitches.   Since the spaces to be filled in this pattern are not perfectly rectangular, you will get some practice adding or skipping stitches at the row ends, and working some curved rows.
corded single Brussels stitch

the foundation row

I suggest you use some of the sections for trying out decorative holes in the corded Brussels.  Small holes are often used in traditional laces to make the lace more interesting.  And veins of various types are also added for the same reason.

In the 1st section I worked  corded Brussels with a small hole. 

Work the foundation row.

the return row is done, starting 3rd row

continuing the 3rd row
Then for the return row, take the thread back to the left, and start the 3rd row.

Continue the 3rd row.
4th return row done, starting row 5 Make another return row, and start the 5th row.
on return row whip into a stitch where you want hole to be When you are ready to start the hole, while making the straight return, whip the return thread into a loop of the previous row.
Skip the whipped stitch to make the hole When you work left to right again, skip the stitch which was whipped.
Make a normal return row.  Make the return row.
Work 2 stitches into the hole space.  When you get to the hole, work 2 stitches into that hole.
single Brussels stitch

single Brussels begun

single Brussels

On the other side, in section 2,  I worked the top section in single Brussels

single Brussels

4 hole bud
Then start the next corded Brussels section 3.  Because the rows are curving, I have whipped the return into some stitches spaced across the curved line.  A straight return wouldn't work.

I worked a 4 hole bud, but didn't do it very well.  I wasn't consistent about whether I whipped or corded the empty spaces.
twisted Brussels stitch tw 2x = English stitch

twisted Brussels stitch, whipped on return row

whipped twisted Brussels stitch, 3rd row

twisted Brussels stitch  - tw 2x, whipped return

whipped twisted Brussels stitch - tw 2x
Twisted Brussels is actually rather difficult to do neatly, when every row is twisted Brussels.  But if the return row is whipped or corded, it is less difficult.  Various forms of twisted Brussels are used constantly in antique traditional laces.  So if you have any desire to learn those, you should really gain some skill with this stitch.  It is also useful in modern compositions, because it is a taller stitch and can be made into a very open ground.  But it can also be grouped in much the same way that plain single Brussels is.

The 2nd section down on the right -- section3 -- is whipped twisted Brussels, twisted 2 times.   This is also called English stitch

Twisted Brussels is a very large subject, because there are different ways to start the stitch, different numbers of twists on the stitch, and it can be worked with the needle pointing towards oneself, or the needle pointing away.  One can also alternate rows of 1 twist and rows of 2 twists.  For a good discussion of this see the three sources listed near the top of this page.
line of holes in corded Brussels

The 3rd section -- section 5 -- on the right is also corded single Brussels, but with a row of 3 holes.

pea stitch variant 3

pea stitch variant 3

The 3rd section on the left-- section 6 --  is pea stitch variant 3.  This variant alternates a row made of 2 buttonhole stitches spaced apart, with a row made of 1 bh space 3 bh.  How the two rows mesh together determines how the stitch will look in a large area. 


There is another variant which meshes the rows together differently.

The   4th section on the left -- section 8 -- repeats corded Brussels with a line of holes.

twisted Brussels stitch tw 1x - point d'Espagne - step 1

point d'Espage step 2

whipped twisted Brussels stitch tw 1x

whipped twisted Brussels stitch - 3rd row

whipped twisted Brussels stitch, tw 1x, point d'Espagne

The last section on the right -- section 7 -- is twisted Brussels, twisted only 1 time, whipped.  This is also called point d'Espagne.

Lace filling stitches done, time to decide which outlines to buttonhole first.

Starting to buttohole from the right, over 3 padding threads.


When you think about what parts to buttonhole first, think in terms of prominence.  The side veins of this leaf are not the most prominent parts, so they should be done first. 

For right handed people work the buttonholing over the outline from right to left.  Work it over at least 2 padding threads (I have used 3).  You work from right to left so that your left thumb (your off hand) can hold the padding threads in position as you work.


first pair of side veins completed

First pair of side veins completed.  Then the central vein with the stem.  And the outer edge of the leaf should be done last, so that you have a smooth uninterrupted outline.  See finished leaf at top of page.

  needlelace leaf oth218     needle lace leaf oth218new    needlelace leaf finished

Here is a photo from someone who has worked this pattern:

© 2011 Lorelei Halley                        First published January 16, 2011.             Revised January 28, 2011.