The Art of Making Bobbin Lace
Bobbin lace is handmade lace that is made with bobbins that hold thread. The bobbins are moved and manipulated in specific ways to create a lace pattern. This beautiful style of lace making has been around since at least the 1500s.
I had heard the term bobbin lace before but never really knew what it was. Then l recently I was watching an episode of Lark Rise to Candleford. This show is set in the 1890s, and one of the characters, Queenie, was making lace with bobbins. It is fascinating!
This Wikipedia Commons photo shows bobbin lacework in progress. The photo was taken by Blahedo at the museum of the Ursuline Convent in Quebec City in March 2003.
Photo Credit: Blahedo
A Brief History of Bobbin Lace
Read more about it online
According to Lorelei Halley of Lynx Lace:
The earliest definite documentation for the existence of bobbin lace is the pattern book published by LePompe in 1559. There are also inventories of the late 1400s which mention "bone lace". This may refer to bobbin lace, but we don't know for certain what these "bone laces" looked like.
Bobbin lace is actually a form of weaving in which only the tops of the warp threads are anchored to something, but are only weighted on the bottom. This allows them to move in relation to each other and creates the possibility of a huge variety of different weaves and densities, a far greater variety than is possible with any other form of weaving.
It is worked on a pillow (actually a very large and hard packed pincushion) as a base, with bobbins which store the thread and weight it, and with pins to guide the threads along their proper paths.
Sandbenders describes the technique for making bobbin lace:
Bobbin lace is a form of weaving, where each thread is attached to a bobbin so its individual path can be controlled.
Photo Credit: Margret Berken in the public domain
How to Make Bobbin Lace - Watch a short 2-minute demonstration of bobbin lacemkaing
"For a Binche 'Point de FÃ©e,' up to 200 bobbins
have to be utilized.
The conductors are woven from
left to right, and from right to left.
The end of the row having been reached,
the thread is held in place with a pin."
Books on Making Bobbin Lace - for sale on Amazon
"Bobbin lace, the kind which is represented in Vermeer's famous Lacemaker, had been developed to provide the borders of garment, caps, pillows, tablecloth etc. with tough but likewise decorative elements."
Lark Rise to Candleford - by Flora Thompson
Before Lark Rise to Candleford was a BBC series, it was an autobiographical novel by Flora Thompson. She wrote about her life as a girl and a young woman in the late 1890s in England.
One of her neighbors, Queenie, made lace using bobbins. She made bobbin lace at home and sold it to the local dressmakers who stitched it onto clothing and linens.
Several references are made to Queenie's lace making, but in season 4, her bobbins are featured as she makes lace and shows Ruby, one of Candleford's dressmakers, how to make lace.
Read More About Bobbin Lace
- Lace History
The Birthplace of Lace by Wim J. Lauriks, as published in LACE Magazine international #49 Spring 1999.
- The Structures of Antique Lace by Marla Mallett
The Structures of Antique Lace -- A Personal Collection Marla Mallett As both a fiber artist and student of historic ethnographic textiles, my textile interests have most often focused on the ways that techniques and structures shape
- Essential Vermeer -- Lace
An illustrated study of lace and lacemaking in the paintings of Vermeer.