Saturday, December 16, 2017

GIY: Making Lace

My instructor's lace

A few weeks back I had the opportunity to attend a bobbin lacemaking 101 class sponsored by the Brooklyn Lace Guild. The instructor had a grant to study lacemaking around the world and between finishing graduate school and her own projects, she teaches classes. Really amazing!

Bobbin lace uses bobbins--special sticks that you wind with thread--I think it took me almost an hour to wind 12. I was easily the slowest person in the class. Basically, you use bobbins to braid the thin strands together--the thread (we used size 40 cotton thread) is so thin, the bobbins give the thread some weight and a handhold so you can braid them--that's really it. Pretty simple in concept.

These are the bobbins, plus size 40 thread

Of course, the challenge is keeping track of where you are in this 12-strand braid. The below video from my non-style instagram shows bobbin lacemaking in action and keeping track with pins. By the way, the work is done on a large flat pillow.

A post shared by Ashley P. (@axp259) on

While you are working, you pin the lace into shape using a pre-poked pattern on a sheet of paper. Sorry I removed some pins in the lower right:

the workspace

My first attempt kind of sucks, but I'm going to try to go to more of these. Below is my finished lace sampler. A sampler is kind of a visual "dictionary" of different stitches. From left to right, there's a whole stitch, a (failed) half stitch, and a cloth stitch:

I tried
Here's what it's supposed to look like:
the instructor's

examples of bobbin lace, lol with mine thrown in
If you would like to get started in bobbin lace making, there are a few YouTube videos on it. You can pick up bobbins, books, patterns, and materials at:

Van Sciver Bobbin Lace (based in NY, ships worldwide)
Snowgoose Lace (based in Colorado, ships worldwide)
Lacis (Based in California, ships worldwide)

This post was part of Craft Along with GIY


  1. I've only heard about bobbin lace recently. Very cool! If I were born a century or two ago, sounds like the type of thing I'd do for a living.

  2. Failed or not, still pretty! Bobbin lace is probably one of my favourites. I think I've tried tatting once, but it was impossible without a special needle or shuttle.

    1. I think it's probably my favorite too, even though you need all this equipment... The other methods seemed so fussy and tedious. The most tedious thing about this is winding the bobbins--though some people have a winding machine... But that's yet another piece of equipment!

  3. Ooooo wow, I'm impressed hand made lace is goregous but incredibly complicated, always look difficult to learn. I take mu headress off to you for even attempting to do it. Lol. I know there a lace guild near me I'm thinking of going as its on Thursday morning. Really well done l.

  4. Got you something for Christmas. Want to know what it is? It's a nomination for the Liebster Award.

  5. Bobbin lace is such a fascinating craft. The intricate patterns are remarkable. Thanks for joining the craft-along!