Bobbin lace, also known as bone lace and pillow lace, is a variety of lace textile created by twisting and braiding lengths of thread. It is known as ‘bobbin’ lace because bobbins are used for managing the threads while making the lace. With the progression of the work, pins set in lace pillows are also used for holding the woven portion in place. A pricking or pattern pinned on the lace pillow determines the placement of these pins.
It originated from braid-making or passementerie in sixteenth century Italy. The coarse passements made using colored silks or threads wrapped with gold and silver threads gradually became finer. Later, lace-makers began using bleached linen yarns for making both the braids and edgings.
The names Bone Lace and Pillow Lace are derived from the earlier bobbins that were made of ivory or bone. It is possible to make this lace at home using specialized tools. This article gives basic step-by-step direction on how to make the lace.
Bobbin Lace Patterns
There are various patterns or types of Pillow Lace. Many of them were originally handmade as they were first created sometime between the 16th century and the 18th century, before the production of machine-made laces began. Some of its best-known varieties are mentioned below:
- Honiton: This fine English lace generally has many flowers in it.
- Torchon: This is another well known variety of Bobbin Lace that often has a beautiful geometric base. Rose ground is a popular stitch pattern in this variety.
- Cluny: It is a light and delicate variety of this lace, made with braids and picots.
- Bedfordshire lace (Beds): Another beautiful variety having flowing lines along with picots (for foiling the machines).
- Bucks point Buckinghamshire lace: This is another fine lace variety with a typical hexagon ground which is often combined with gimp threads (heavier variety of thread sometimes worked through the lace for emphasis)
- Mechlin: Transparent Flemish lace popular for its twisted-and-plaited hexagonal ground, floral patterns and characteristic outlined designs.
- Valenciennes: This is a French variety of Pillow Lace having a net-like background. Valenciennes originated in the eighteenth century.
Bobbin Lace Supplies
A Bobbin Lace kit for beginners includes the following materials and tools:
- Two hardwood bobbins
- Adjustable pressed board stand
- Tubes of thread
- Flat oval-shaped working board
- Prickings or patterns
The kit generally also includes a guidebook giving basic instructions for making this attractive lace. Bobbin Lace winder is another useful tool. As the name implies, it is used for winding the strings during lace-making.
Bobbin Lace Making
Bone Lace has a very attractive appearance and can add to the beauty of any clothing article. But it is also looks very complex and intimidating with all the tiny dots and braids. But in truth, it is possible to make this lace at home with the proper supplies.
Making lace with bobbins takes less time than making needle lace. But, it is necessary to know certain basic stitches to be able to work this complicated pattern. Given below is a basic procedure for making this lace. You can make various complex Bobbin Laces using the instructions given below:
- Begin working by threading two bobbins with the two ends of a single piece of string. Take the bobbin to pull some strings through it. Then, you need to roll the bobbin tightly until you have just a few inches of the string left. These few inches have to be threaded in the second bobbin. You need to use this second bobbin for winding the string very tightly while also unwinding the first bobbin. Stop the procedure once half of our string has been wound on each bobbin.
- The next step consists of practicing a braid. For this, you need to take one pair of bobbin and then put the middle of the string behind one pin. Then, wrap the bobbin on your right over the other one on your left for making a lace braid. It is important to make sure that you always wind the right bobbin over the left one for making a braid.
- Once you have learned how to make a braid, you need to practice the half-stitch crossing. For this, you need to place the middle part of each string at the back of 2 different pins. Begin the procedure by crossing the bobbin on your right side over the one on your left once for each pair. Then, weave your middle left bobbin to the right. Make sure that it goes over your first string and under your second string.
- Next, you need to practice full-stitch crossing so that your lace gets a solid look. For this, you need to take 2 bobbin pairs and place the middle of the strings behind two different pins. Then, cross your right bobbin over your left bobbin once in each pair. The two middle bobbins have to be woven in this manner. Make sure that your middle left bobbin goes over your string to right and under your next string on right side.
- Once you master all the above techniques, you can easily make Bobbin Lace using these stitches and a pattern or pricking.
What is Bobbin Lace used for?
It can be used for making a wide range of accessories, for adorning dresses as well as for decoration purposes. This lace is used on curtains, cushion covers and pillow cases for adding an antique look to them. It is also ideal for making various accessories like scarves, earrings and even hand fans. There are numerous patterns you can use for making your own jewelry.
Now you can see how easy it is to make Bobbin Lace yourself. You can choose from the various free patterns available online for creating different designs like heart, angel, star and butterfly. They are sure to make your handiwork look attractive and draw everyone’s admiration.