Mary Corbet

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I learned to embroider when I was a kid, when everyone was really into cross stitch (remember the '80s?). Eventually, I migrated to surface embroidery, teaching myself with whatever I could get my hands on...read more

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Free Embroidery Design: Lace Reinterpreted


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More often than I like to admit, I come across half-started embroidery projects floating around my studio, or half-conceived ideas for embroidery projects floating around on my computer.

I was scouring through my collections of embroidery designs, ideas, scans from old books, and whatnot, desperately looking for a design that I know I have, that I’ve even embroidered, but that I can’t seem to find! I can’t remember what I named it. Something clever, no doubt – so clever that it evades me.

But when I’m on a digging mission like that, I come across these half-conceived ideas that I had Once Upon a Time, but haven’t yet had the time to pursue. And that’s what this design is.

Lace Reinterpreted hand embroidery design

In its original form, this design was featured in an old needlework publication and it was originally an ecclesiastical design. It’s a lace motif – a combination of a tape lace and lots of needle lace fillings – and it was intended as a repeat design worked across the front of an altar linen.

I remember that I liked the extraction of the single design element, and started playing with it, reimagining it as not-necessarily-lace. I had an idea, if I recall correctly, of something couched-goldwork-or-soutache-braid-ish with shaded fillings – but the exact concept escapes me at the moment.

(Do you see a trend here? My mind is turning into 2020 Mush.)

In any case, I reinterpreted the design, removed the ecclesiastical elements, made the whole thing somewhat floral-flamboyant… and then forgot about it.

Coming upon it the other day, I decided it would be a nice little design to share with you. Maybe you can reimagine it – or maybe you’d like to work it as originally tended, in lace. Either way, here it is, just for you!

Lace Reinterpreted PDF Printable

The PDF linked to below will give you a design that prints around 6.5″ high. You can enlarge or ensmall it, as you wish.

Lace Reinterpreted: A Hand Embroidery Design

It’s fun to play around with designs meant for other types of textiles and see how they can be reimagined into embroidery or other art forms. I get a kick out of it, anyway! I like to have a small sketchbook with me for when ideas like that strike, or when I come across something that seems particularly suited to interpretation in embroidery. I’m no great sketcher, but I like to doodle, and usually that’s where my ideas start.

If you’re looking for something to stitch and you could use some design ideas, I have a plethora of free hand embroidery designs available for your personal use here on Needle ‘n Thread. My favorite way to find them is to use the topic tag, free embroidery patterns. You can find topic tags listed at the end of articles on Needle ‘n Thread. They’ll take you to archives of related topics.

You can also peruse this index of free hand embroidery designs – which I will be updating soon!

Hope you enjoy the design, and I hope you have a jolly weekend!


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(6) Comments

  1. Thank you. I like to use colored pencils to fill in a design to give me an idea of how the colors will work together. This design will be fun to play with. And, I am glad I am not the only one who’s brain has turned to mush.

  2. Nice design. I’ve had some successes using old Battenberg Lace layouts for inhabited blackwork – the substyle that combines outlines with geometric or freeform fillings. The neatly even parallel lines intended to show the twists of the tape work nicely as the “train track” for the family of the raised plaited stitches often done in metal passing thread. Thinking of it, since I gave away that piece as a wedding present years ago, it may be time to do another. Thank you for the inspirational push!

  3. Thank you Mary for another pretty! This might just spur me to attempt that needle lace that is forever on my ‘one day I will try…’ list.

  4. Thank you for this lovely design. It makes me see red satin stitch on white linen, perhaps with some green on the round bits to give it a Christmas feel. I have been working steadily on Phillipa Turnbull’s reprisal of the Muncaster bed hanging (I’m more than halfway through), so all has wool and twill for 6 months months. I could take a break to try out some floche maybe? I also thing this would look lovely in scherenschnitte.

  5. Dear Mary

    Lace Reinterpreted is a very nice design lots of ideas come to mind from L&S stitch to lacing and in between any stitch really would suit this design, just let your imagination run wild. Thank you Mary for giving another lovely free pattern and for sharing it with us and for the stitching advice very nice of you.

    Regards Anita Simmance

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