Needleweaving & Rosehips



I never want you to feel like I am selling you something for my benefit–EVER.  In yesterday’s post I gave a link for an article I wrote more than a couple of years ago for The AQS magazine  “American Quilter” which included an illustration for the needleweaving stitch.  Like you, I am not allowed to copy and post it here due to copyright (I sold the rights), even though I wrote and illustrated the article.  To get the article online, you must be a member and obviously that has a price tag unless you are already a member.  I could not find my original illustration.

So…….These are NOT perfect photos by any stretch and I am still in my pajamas (its past noon!) trying to get these done for those of you who do not have a membership so you have access to instructions without reaching into your wallet.  Here is the “two-thread” version of the needleweaving stitch aka “Picot stitch” I used for the Rosehips.

I am using the Lecien “Cosmo” brand cotton embroidery thread which comes off this spool in two threads ready to go. Any other thread will work as well, but since this is what I used, I am demonstrating with it.  A regular sewing pin with a ball top (glass in this case) and a size 9 embroidery needle (Crewel needle).  The 5″ hoop I use is by Morgan.











 When you start to “weave” you are NOT piercing the fabric.  The “picot” remains loose on the surface.  The patterning is over and under, over and under, back and forth without piercing the fabric.







 As you weave each level, do not pull tightly, but gently, to keep the tension right.  Pulling tightly distorts and alternatively, leaving the tension too loose, will look sloppy and irregular.  I put my thumb over the weaving and press down gently as I gently tug to get the right tension.  You can feel it.










To position the picot in different ways like I have done with the rosehips, just lay in the position you want and then take the needle to the back to secure. The picot is only connected to the fabric at the base, so it is moldable almost anyway you want to posiition it.  (I am really sorry about the lousy photos)


I hope this helps and have a good weekend.  Remember to take care of yourself and steal some time for needle and thread!




all contents ©2009 Sandra Leichner all rights reserved

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About Sandra

I am an Author, Designer, Illustrator and a major international award winning quilt artisan. I love working with fabrics and threads and they have become my medium of choice.

35 thoughts on “Needleweaving & Rosehips

  1. What lousy photos are you talking about ….. the ones I have just looked at show how to do the stitch very clearly, so thank you very much for showing them.
    Judy B

  2. Wow Sandra I am just blown away at your generosity and willingness to share and teach us. I can’t thank you enough for posting this and for shooting me an email to let me know that you had. You are an amazing woman and I’m so very grateful to be able to soak up some of your knowledge. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!!!

  3. The photos were wonderful, not lousy. I could really see what the stitch looked like as it was made. Thank you so much!

  4. Thank you for this great tutorial!
    Although I am not a hand embroiderer, your lesson make me eager to try this one out myself.

  5. Sandra, You are so generous sharing your expertise with us! Thank you! Needleweaving looks fun! I ordered “Elegant Stitches” and I’m looking forward to practicing. Thanks again for taking time away from your own stitching and family to post things for us.

  6. Wow! That’s really cool! So, you made each one of these sepals “in place” on the piece – using the pin to weave around? Pinning into the rose hip, then? And then when you were done weaving, you twisted or turned it or whatever, “anchoring” it where you wanted it to stay, yes? (I thought they were actually “free floating”.) Did you needle weave before or after the stamens with the french knots? You really are an embroidery goddess!

  7. Great photographs! I am a member of AQS and kept that article in my Sandra Notebook! I love needleweaving, so now I am really excited to use the Cosmo thread. Getting ready to order online, well must do my bit for the economy – right!!!

  8. Yes, Michele, each sepal was made in place and I think a total of four hours to accomplish all. You are spot on in that I could twist and turn and then tack in place. If you use sewing thread, the tack stitch will disapear into the weaving never to be seen by the naked eye. I did the stamens first (50 wt. sewing thread one strand french knots 3 wraps and the stamen “stems”= 50 wt. sewing thread straight stitch)

    That way I don’t have to manipulate the stamen stems underneath the sepals.

  9. THank you again and again.
    In the previous blog Boop asked about the white chalk, if it is treated with the extender. Could you please mention what chalk this is and respond to Boop’s question. Thanks so much.
    Is there a difference between the strands of Cosmo as opposed to the two strand on the roll ?

  10. Denise, the sheen of the Cosmo threads is truly gorgeous. It is understated, but definitely has a much more silky appearance than the DMC.

  11. Hey Sara,

    I remembered that question as I was laying in bed this morning. It is a Carb Othello chalk pastel pencil #100. I usually use it to make my embroidery lines, but found it works pretty good for marking highlights too.

    I shade in the area to test out placement (I can erase and do over if I don’t get it right the first time) and then, when I am happy with it, touch it with a brush of the Colorless extender (same as colored pencil tutorial). There is one more step however because the lighter color disappears once you touch it with the extender. The shadow of the chalk is still there as a guide, then I gently color over it again with the pencil and let dry. Hit with a hot iron for the ten count. It is permanent now.

    You could also use the Tsukineko white ink to create the highlights as well without so many steps but……….make sure you like where you put it, as there is no play once you touch it to your fabric. It stays where you put it and there is no turning back.

    There is no difference between the two strand roll thread weight and the Cosmo threads in a skein. Just different yardages and number of strands per length.

  12. Do you recommend using additional colors of that brand of chalk pencil, or only the white ?
    I notice that in the AQS article there is a third strand of thread in the middle, which makes a distinct ridge in the sepal. DO you have a general preference brtween the two variations ?

  13. Sandra, I’ve been studying the pumpkin applique and I have a few questions if you don’t mind. Looking at the first photos of the dirt, it looks like you needle turned the first (outside) layer then needle turned the second layer to meet the first turned layer. (Hope that makes sense) instead of just turning one edge on top of another. Wondering why. Also, I noticed you do both pin and sew basting to position your pieces. When do you sew, when do you pin? And finally, it seems you use freezer paper only as templates. Is that right? (I like to use sticker paper so I can print out the template perfectly and remove a another chance for inaccuracy). Do you finger press at all?

    Thanks. Inquiring minds want to know…

  14. Melanie,

    The sticker paper should work fine too as long as it is ultra thin. Which I think it is. As long as no residue from the adhesive is transferred imperceptively to the fabric to catch dust and dirt over time.

    I do not finger press. Why? It distorts and stretches the bias. You may not “see” the distortion, but you are actually stretching your piece. Just a little smidge can add up over many pieces and create headaches. This is why I see those angular pull lines across the surface of many an applique quilt.

    I never baste the pieces unless they have a large surface area. With intricate smaller layered applique it doesn’t work that well. It only takes one piece to be slightly off, and this is guaranteed, and you have to undo all of that basting. Which is why back basting is something I would like to see go away and never used unless maybe for basic applique. I pin. This is far quicker, I can adapt and it works.

    Melanie I am not sure I understand the dirt question, but check here on this post, and this one, and see if that answers your question. If not, I will take a stab at what you might mean and say I am applique-ing for depth. What is the front in the picture and what is the back and applique the pieces accordingly for the same realistic view. I think that was clear as mud too. yikes.

    The thing to remember is that intricate layered applique takes a different approach and different skills over the common basic applique.

  15. Sara,

    The chalk pencils are tricky and can leave a “dirty” hue. The colored pencils are preferable for cleaner color.

    The three thread version of the picot stitch is thicker and wider and I use that when I need a larger scale and weight. In the case of the Pumpkin quilt, the three strand was too thick (I tried that first). I used the three strand on the American Still Life quilt blackberries.

    You know you are too quick for me right??? LOL. I was going to do a second post as soon as I grabbed a few moments (ha!) and do the three strand version.

  16. Michele,

    It wears away mostly by itself as you work. If not (highly unusual), it washes out or spot cleans out with soap and water. You can also take a scrap piece of fabric and rub it off.

  17. Sandra,
    Thanks for all of the answers! Regarding the dirt question, did you applique the second level (speckled) on the first level (brown)(first “level” would be at the edge of the circle) and then applique the last level (dark brown) on the speckled? I’m confused because there are pins at the edge that would go under.

    Sorry for being compulsive.


  18. The “black” surround you see with pins goes over the whole thing and is reverse appliqued to the sky fabric and dirt. Think of the sky and dirt as creating a solid background fabric.

    1) the lighter dirt appliqued to the sky fabric
    2) the spotted batik appliqued to the previous
    3) the darkest brown applique to the previous
    4) the black fabric is layered over the sky and dirt section, circle cut out with seam allowance, pin in place and reverse applique to the sky & dirt section.

    5) cut away excess sky fabric section from behind black fabric.

    I hope that makes sense Melanie. You made me laugh with the “complulsive” comment. 🙂

  19. Sandra,
    With the enormous amount of detail in your work, do you work from your own photos, or photos from books, or other? The realism you achieve is unparalleled!


  20. Sandra,
    So glad my folks spent all that money on higher education. Really helped, huh?!

    Thanks for the obvious explanation.

    Compulsive (LOL)

  21. Holly,

    Sometimes I have a photo reference, but most of the time I just create from the pictures in my head. I am getting much better about not being a* retentive about botanical correctness. 😉

    I have always done gardening so many of the images are from my experience with that.

  22. Check your contract. Most magazines only buy first American rights. Once they have published it, you can do whatever you want with it. A couple of my articles have reappeared in compilations of a certain weaving technique and the magazine formally requested my permission in writing to “reprint” my article which had previously appeared in their magazine. I could have said no or demanded another payment. I did neither. They were generous the first time around and I enjoy seeing my work in print. Vanity rules.


  23. Thanks Diane. Hmmm, I wonder what I did with that contract although it was the illustration I was looking for and, again, have no idea where it is since I got “organized”. Why do things go missing when I “organize”? If I keep everything a mess, I can always find what I am looking for.

    I think the pictures worked better than the illustration in the end so for now, I will keep the dust where it is. LOL


  24. I like to call it “organized chaos” – and I tell everyone to leave my piles alone! If anyone moves any of my “stuff”, I’ll never find it again, but if left alone, I know exactly where everything is and can find it in a heartbeat!

    Eagerly awaiting your next Snippet – tho, I suppose, with all the holiday stuff swirling, we’ll have to excuse ALL bloggers in the next couple of weeks if their posts aren’t quite as frequent as usual. 🙂

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