How to Prepare for Making Hardanger Lace

Hardanger lace embroidery is prized for its beauty, elegance and ability to enliven a plain piece of good quality fabric. Hardanger embroidery originated in a small town of the same name in Norway, where it continues to be made to this day. Hardanger lace spread to Italy, Germany and other European countries before being introduced in publication form to the United States in May 1901 by the editor of The Lace Maker in an article in The Ladies' Home Journal.

This article sets out the basics of what you need to understand before commencing the art of making Hardanger lace embroidery.


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    Select fabric that has counted threads. The warp and weft threads must be approximately the same (this means fabric with and even, symmetrical weave). Heavy linen with coarse regular weave is ideal because it ensures that you can count the threads easily.[1]
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    Choose a fabric color that suits your needs. While traditional Hardanger embroidery is white worked on white, today's range of fabric colors and threads open up a wider possibility of color choices.
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    Pay careful attention to accurately counting the threads. Hardanger is not hard but it must be accurate. Counting the threads is the most important part of Hardanger embroidery. One mistake will ruin the pattern and make it necessary to start the work all over again.
  4. Image titled Prepare for Making Hardanger Lace Step 4
    Learn the stitches used for Hardanger. The stitches used in Hardanger are the Kloster blocks stitch (satin stitch) for solid sections of the designs and under-and-over woven bars (or wrapped bars) for the cut and drawn pieces.
    • The Kloster block stitches are arranged to outline the cut spaces - it is these stitches that construct the major parts of the design.[2]
    • Additional stitches that may be used include: eyelet, back stitch, lace stitch, and fagoting.
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    Prepare the fabric well. Prior to mounting the fabric for a Hardanger project, given that the fabric may have a tendency to fray as you stitch it, overcast it first on all of its cut edges.
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    Plan ahead. Make your design on paper first. By necessity, Hardanger stitches will be geometric in shape, taking on the forms of squares, triangles, oblongs, diamonds, rectangles, etc.[3] While the outer edges of the larger designs will appear very straightforward, it will be the smaller shapes developed around the larger ones that create the textual contrasts and provide the interest to your Hardanger piece.
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    Place a basting line on the exact spots where the Hardanger embroidery will be placed on clothing and cloth items. That way, the Hardanger decoration will be exactly in place.
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    Use a needle without a point with a large eye. A pointed needle will split the threads and make accuracy impossible.
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    Get used to the feeling that you do not use knots in Hardanger embroidery. Start a thread by placing a few stitches into the fabric and covering these with the embroidery stitches. Fasten off threads by running back on the underside of the fabric.
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    Practice on small pieces when beginning. Try making little Hardanger embroidery squares or diamonds on a sampler. This way, you will become familiar with the work of counting threads and mistakes will be easy to remedy.


  • Hardanger embroidery is suitable for a range of projects, including table covers, centerpieces, doilies, sheet and pillowcase insertions, towel bands, curtain borders, bedspread squares, sofa pillow tops, side table covers, collars and cuffs, yokes and clothing decoration.
  • Hardanger lace remains popular to this day. It is durable, beautiful and timeless in its look.

Things You'll Need

  • Even-weave fabric, usually 22-count, gives the best defined "block" appearance
  • Alternative even-weave fabrics in 18–24 count (e.g., cotton, linen) but appearance will not be so clearly block-like
  • Pearl or perlé cotton—#5 for the heavier satin stitch and #8 for the finer, more delicate work
  • Tapestry needles (blunt); sizes 20 for perlé/Pearl 5; 22 for perlé/Pearl 8; and 24 for perlé/Pearl 12 are usually ideal matches
  • Embroidery hoop or similar fabric-holding device (makes it easier to stitch)
  • Embroidery scissors (good quality)

Sources and Citations

  • Original source of this article: Hadley, Sara, (1903), The Complete Hardanger Book (New York)
  • Bradford, D, (1932) The Tetzner Book No. 2, Hardanger Embroideries and Filet Crochet - additional source of information
  1. Mary Thomas's Embroidery Book, Hodder and Stoughton Ltd, Great Britain, 1968 (thirteenth impression), ISBN 340 000671 4
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Categories: Needlecraft