Making Bobbin Lace

It may surprise you to learn I do other things with my spare time, that don’t involve having a camera in one hand šŸ™‚ Sadly I don’t indulge in these things as often as I should but one I have resurrected and finally got proper kit and some manuals for is this.

I am teaching myself how to make bobbin lace!

“Why?”Ā  I hear you ask with some confusion šŸ™‚Ā  Well the obvious answer is “because I can” which is partly true.Ā  It is part of my SCA involvement.Ā  Everyone in the SCA does some form of handcraft.Ā  A lot of it is sewing and embroidery because we handmake a lot of our garb (period style clothes), attempting to mimic period styles and decoration.

I decided to learn how to make lace. I first started with needlelace, because you only need fabric, thread and a needle, but it turned out to be a LOT more complex than I anticipated.Ā  I still have all my stuff ready to go back to any time – its called a UFO – Unfinished Object.

Bobbin Lace requires a lot more financial outlay, you have to buy bobbins (quite a few are required) and thread (special expensive kind) and a Lace Making Cushion.Ā  You can see my current WIP above.Ā  There are no lace suppliers in NZ, I had to import the cushion and bobbins from Australia.Ā  The cat hair is provided for free by Taz!

On the image above I have started with Whole stitch, and have then moved onto Half Stitch.

Above are my first two learner samples.Ā  The one on the left is the first one I did during the only couple of formal lessons I had.Ā  I started another one to remind me of the basic stitched but got bored during the third section as you can tell šŸ™‚

A chance encounter and a lovely chat in one of the local craft shops led me to this range of cottons, apparently all the local lace ladies use it.Ā  I got 10 different colours, and then had a test making this bookmark.

Here is a closeup so you can see the different colours used.Ā  The working strand (the on that goes across and binds them all together) was white.

So a window into the wild and crazy part of my life NOT spent behind the camera šŸ™‚

Taz lounging beside the fire – the endless supply of white cat hair that covers everything I own!


About lensaddiction

Mad keen photographer figuring it out as she goes!
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20 Responses to Making Bobbin Lace

  1. mississhippi says:

    What does SCA stand for? Not being a NZer I don’t know it šŸ™‚ .There is a really old-style feel to bobbin lace isn’t there. Obviously great for period clothes. It will be great to see more of this as you work on it. I love that you have had a go at this on your own. Not something simple to learn I think.

  2. lensaddiction says:

    Sorry I meant to put a hyperlink in – SCA stands for Society for Creative Anachronism – essentially a group of people with an interest in re-enacting elements of medieval history. Boys dressing up in armour and hitting each other with sticks, archery, dancing, food and of course crafts!

    Its a worldwide thing will get you to the main page which is based in the US, but its quite big in Australia – the country is split up into different areas is yours. The Arts and Sciences is where all the crafty stuff happens šŸ™‚

    I did have a few formal lessons with the bobbin lace to get me started, but the rest I am learning from books, I got this book after finding it in the library

    And this

    The basics are not as complicated as you think, but it certainly LOOKS hard šŸ™‚

    • Selena Joosten says:

      This is the exact same book I self learnt on! There are so many old lace books, but this one helped me so much. The Josco suppiers in Australia have so many books to sell on lace! You know how there are different kinds of Bobbin lace, which one do you think you would like to end up doing, I think the book you have is based on Torchon lace.

      • lensaddiction says:

        Yes I decided to stay with Torchon lace because for the SCA useage it is more similar in style to what I see in historical paintings etc. Its not technically period but in my eyes *looks* more period. Once I finally master it I might try some of the other options, thats a long way off šŸ™‚

        Nice to meet a fellow lace fan who is self taught – its one of those odd things that LOOKS really complicated to do but is actually quite easy šŸ™‚ Just fiddly!

  3. Ayla says:

    Great start on those samples. I love the curves in that bookmark. I was wondering what the brand and size of the thread in the 10 colour bookmark? I’m in NZ too and have just returned to my long forgotten pillows from when i was a child. But I’ve been struggling to find a readily available thread that I like.

    • lensaddiction says:

      Oh I hated doing those curves, for a beginner piece, putting curved sides in is just cruel, and why it looked so shoddy when I took it off the pins because the tensions were all over the place.

      The 10 colour bookmark is done with Mettler sewing cottons – they are a fancy cotton brand that should be in any good sewing/quilting shop and they have about 50 colours so LOTS to choose from. I need to scale the pattern down so its a tighter lace.

      From my experiments, the best thread to work with is crochet cotton size #80 or #100 which is the finest but really hard to find. Most of the easily accessible stuff is the other end of the scale #10 #20 size which is the fat stuff good for crochet and knitting.

      Ping me an email, happy to talk further šŸ™‚

      • Ayla says:

        Thanks for the info, I’ll keep my eye out! I’ve got a few colours in DMC #80, but it seems to be hard to find them now. I’m making things difficult for myself by wanting to work both with fine threads and beautiful colours. Perhaps I’ll have to concentrate on one or the other until I’m not such a beginner, then start dying my own.
        Couldn’t find your email for some reason? but if you want to talk feel free to email me šŸ™‚

      • lensaddiction says:

        Sorry I thought my email address was around, apparently not.

        You can get the DMC #80 cottons on Ebay and there is a place in australia I have found selling them but a bit pricey

      • Selena Joosten says:

        Is the place in Australia Josco lace supplies? I am about to buy a Roller lace pillow at $160 from them, Just emailed them yesterday.

      • lensaddiction says:

        Yes I deal with Josco in Australia for my lace supplies, I struggled with finding anyone in NZ who had what I needed. The lady there is very lovely and quite helpful. I wish I had bought a bigger pillow now to do bigger pieces on but having two will also be useful as well:)

    • Lensaddiction I would be happy to have 2 lace making pillows, you could use the smaller one for travelling, there could be never anything wrong with having two or more pillows. I am thinking of getting two, one for ribbon lace the other for roundals.

  4. Jenn says:

    Awesome šŸ™‚ mum does bobbin lace and has given me a small number of her pieces. A handcraft I have decided not to try. Prefer needlecraft and patchworking šŸ™‚

  5. I thought that would be a interesting thing to try. But now that I think about it, I have heaps of yarn already for braiding, plus I don’t think I’d have the patience šŸ™‚

    Speaking of sewing, I should really get to work on adjusting my garb. Another person from Lochac here šŸ™‚

    Nice work with the lace! I like the bookmark šŸ™‚

  6. Selena Joosten says:

    I am self taught too, Love your bookmark, why not do coloured thread!

  7. Selena Joosten says:

    There is a Laceioli website and Jo Atkins that answers most lace questions, i found them such a big help. I am looking for people who are into lace here in NZ, just love the craft so much, am doing Bucks point lace now, its so pretty.

    • Ayla says:

      Hi Selena šŸ™‚

      I make lace in Wellington. I was lucky enough to have my aunt teach me the basics when i was a child and i’m making up for lost time now I’ve started making it again. If you’re looking for locals there are quite a few lace groups around. unfortunately I can’t make the times for the ones in Wellington šŸ˜¦ but I must get organised and get in touch, at least so I know the dates of the lace days, which are great fun to attend.

      • I hope to at least be able to get to one lace group annual event in my lifetime, like those yearly events they have, think I will have to wait until my kids are grown for that, but at least it gives something to look forward to.

    • lensaddiction says:

      Hi Selena, I am in CHCH and there is a fairly solid lace network here. THanks for the Laceioli link, I hadn’t found that website, will check it out šŸ™‚

  8. Oh you will love Laceioli if you love doing lace. It has helped me so much.

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