Bobbin Lace


Introduction: Bobbin Lace

This centuries-old craft is currently enjoying a surprising resurgence in popularity. Youtube tutorials and books are readily available but the best way to begin is to find an instructor.

You will need a bolster or pillow which – again – can be made with help from youtube or books. Your instructor may also be able to help you find or make one. Essentially, a bolster or pillow is styrofoam covered with durable fabric. You will also need bobbins, straight pins and thread or string as well as a series of patterns of increasing complexity. You will learn various stitches and make samplers to practise those stitches.

Samplers make nice bookmarks. Lace can be attached to garments. Check Google Images for an array of examples:

This craft is not gender specific. Historically, cloth and lace makers were men. People of any age can learn to make bobbin lace.

The finer the string or thread, the finer the finished work. The best way to begin is with thicker thread or string and larger patterns. Crochet cotton is terrific for novices.

Once you have all your supplies and materials, pin your pattern to the pillow and set a row of pins at the top of your pattern. Cut your string into 6’ lengths and wind it around your bobbins. Your instructor will show you how to tie a slip knot which will keep the thread from unravelling as you work.

Step 1: Not As Complicated As One Might Think.

Pins will hold your work in place until the project is complete.

When you reach the end of the pattern, carefully remove all pins from the inside of your lace piece leaving only those on the perimeter. Using a letter opener or something else equally long and slim (to fit between the pins), carefully raise the work an inch or two above the pattern. Spray with hairspray and set everything aside to let it dry. The hairspray will fix or stiffen the lace for ease of handling. Once dry, remove remaining pins. If using as a bookmark, consider encasing in plastic.



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    7 Discussions

    Bobbin lace looks like such fun! Even as a novice, I'd love to see instructions on how it's done some time :)

    1 reply

    Thanks, Penolopy! It is hugely fun! My instructor is talking about filming tutorials, but I have no idea how long that will take. Certainly check out for anything related to bobbin lace? Too, if you have any needlework or fiber craft guilds in your area, someone might be available for a demonstration?

    Rose Anne

    You talk about the work but offer no instruction on how to actually do it. Without "instructions," it's not an INSTRUCTable.

    1 reply

    You are so right, Brian. Thanks for pointing it out. I hope to at least have piqued people's interest to the point of looking into the many existing and lengthy online tutorials and pages in books dedicated to learning just one simple stitch (never mind combining stitches). As an utter novice, I hesitate to say more (in an instructable) for fear of explaining something incorrectly.

    Great, thanks!!

    Nice intro to this beautiful art. Have always wanted to try it. Any suggestions on a good "beginner kit"? (In USA) Have googled many but would like your opinion. Thanks!

    1 reply

    Thanks for your note, Parisusa. My instructor has an abundance of supplies and lent them to us for the first few lessons. Isn't that a great way to begin? We (our class) had the opportunity to try and see if we liked it before spending any money on anything besides thread.

    Perhaps check with your local community and arts colleges to see if they have teachers who might have a similar "sharing" attitude?

    Bolsters / pillows can be a bit expensive. I've seen beginner kits for as much as $150 (Canadian) with bolster / pillow, 24 bobbins and a small booklet of patterns.

    Of the online options, I've only visited (and not purchased from) and They both look pretty good to me, and thanks for asking.

    Wishing you every success!