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Needle + Thread = Lace

My heart skipped a beat when one of my dear students brought this beautiful piece of needle lace to class last week. Her mother, Yerkena Michigian, born in Turkey in 1899, made it around 1935 after leaving Istanbul to live in Kingsburg, CA. She learned this intricate art form as a young girl and made these lovely pieces to earn money to leave the country. Between running a household, working on the farm, and raising three children, she managed to keep her hands busy creating delicate works of art. I can’t even image the number of hours that went into the making of this amazing piece.

The diameter of this piece is approximately 24″. This gives you some idea just how small and intricate the stitches are. Here’s a detail photo of the center.

Supplies are simple: a needle and DMC cotton thread.  The stitches, on the other hand, are anything but. I did a quick google search to find that all needle lace is based on the “buttonhole” or “blanket” stitch. The lace-like stitches are made with a series of embroidery stitches worked between couched-thread outlines of shapes.

If you are interested in a tutorial, go to

As luck would have it, the weekend after “oohing” and “aahing” over these lovely handmade treasures, I attended a local Shakespeare Festival. Little did I know that there would be a lacemaker present, sharing some pieces she has collected over the years.

Here are some samples of what I found at the Festival.

Sample of bobbin lacework.

Needlelace doily.

I would be saddened to think that needlelace might become a lost art. I’m curious to know if you or anyone you know does this kind of work, as I would love to write more about it in future posts.  Please “drop me a note” by leaving a comment below.

Coincidentally, Lilo Bowman at the Quilt Show just posted an interesting article on antique textiles also.

Hope you are all enjoying the last few days of summer. Until next time….. happy sewing.

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