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Home » An Introduction to Bobbin Lace – Taixtile Podcast Ep. 3

An Introduction to Bobbin Lace – Taixtile Podcast Ep. 3

This podcast episode is all about historical bobbin lace! We start with an introduction into the technique of bobbin lace and tell you about our beginnings and our current lace projects. We also give you a little digression about Clara’s visit to the Calais Lace and Fashion Museum.

At the end, we’ll have a guest appearance by Talitha. She is a professional lace maker, costume designer and garment master. We are very excited to have her on the podcast with us.


Bobbin lace is a lacemaking technique that is very similar to weaving.

You work with a lace pillow, which is either round or flat. On it, you attach your lace pattern by pinning it down with needles. The next step is to wind your bobbins with thread, that was typically made of linen or cotton. But nowadays you can use whatever material you have. Now the bobbin lace making can begin!

The lace is always worked in bobbin pairs. There are two movements that must be followed when making bobbin lace. When crossing (C), the left bobbin is placed over the right. When turning (T), it is carried out the other way around. This results in the three typical bobbin lace strokes: half stitch (C), linen stitch (CT) and whole stitch (CTCT).

By pinning down the lace stitches at specific positions, the lace pattern is now created. At the end, all the pins can be removed and the lace is finished!

Bobbin lace looks much more difficult than it actually is and we recommend everyone to give it a try.

After this little description of the bobbin lace technique, we’ll tell you how we got started with bobbin lace and what inspired us in the first plac. Feel free to listen in!

A strip of lace showing the linen stitch, whole stitch and half stitch

On the bookshelf

A combilation of books about bobbin lacemaking

We would like to show you a few books that really helped us in our beginnings as well as in our current lace projects:

“Klöppel-Kurs – für Selbststudium und Unterricht” by Ulrike Löhr is the perfect book for beginners. Each new technique is explained in a very detailed and understandable way. This book is really worth purchasing if you’re learning bobbin lace all on your own without having anyone to ask. Sadly we’re not sure if there is an English version available.

“101 Torchon Patterns” by Robin Lewis-Wild offers a variety of torchon bobbin lace letters. It features lace borders, insertion lace and doilies at various levels of difficulty. There are many more beautiful lace patterns in this book that we will definitely try out in the future!

Clara also owns a small collection of needlework books from the Otto Beyer Verlag. Among them are two copies about lace making (see above). These date from the 1920s and are so beautiful to look at!

The “Encyclopedia of Needlework” is a handbook written by Thérèse de Dillmont in 1893. This book features all of the common needlework techniques and gives a step by step explanation of each technique. Clara has already worked with this manual on a needle lace project, as it presents many stitch variations and techniques. There is also an instructive chapter on lace making. We can recommend this book to everyone. Online, the book can be found and downloaded for free on several platforms.

Work in Progress

Nany is working on a historical blouse from the 1900s. The pattern is a design from the Spanish fashion magazine “La Moda Elegante”. Part of this blouse is a bobbin lace that runs along the center front.

Nany picked a torchon lace from the book “101 Torchon Patterns”. This is her first bobbin lace. She is making great progress on it and the lacemaking process is a great pleasure to her!

Work in progress of bobbin lace project
Detail shot of bobbin lace project

Clara is also working on a 1900s blouse. She is using an existing blouse (see below) as an inspiration but modified it slightly. Currently she is working on a wide ribbon lace to serve as a collar. This is a torchon lace pattern that she designed herself.

From the Archives

An 1880s corset cover neckline decorated with handmade bobbin lace
An 1880s corset cover neckline decorated with handmade bobbin lace

Clara is presenting an 1880s corset cover that she completed in 2020. This garment is worn over a corset and under the outer visible dress. This is to prevent the outline of the corset from showing through on the outer dress. In addition, the corset cover protects the outer garment from the metal closure of the corset.

Typically, these bodices were made with a lot of lace. Clara created three different bobbin lace strips for this and sewed them onto the neckline and armholes. As lace patterns, she used the books “101 Torchon patterns” by Robin Lewis-Wild and “Wiener Spitzen” by Hartmut Lang.

In the podcast episode, Clara also tells you about a little trick she used fo the lace of the neckline to make sure the lace lays nicely against the round edge of the fabric.

Outlay of a torchon lace strip, decorated with an antique newspaper and some bobbins

Another of Clara’s bobbin lace projects is a torchon lace border that she completed in 2021. It is taken from the book “Wiener Spitzen” by Hartmut Lang.

This lace consists of so-called bobbin lace spiders and a linen stitch pattern. This lace is one of the more complex patterns she has made. She used a total of 25 pairs of bobbin lace for it.

Highlighting History

Leavers lace machines
Leavers lace machine
Flat bobbin lace pillow

Clara tells you about her visit to the “Cité de la Mode et de la Dentelle” in Calais, a museum about lace and fashion. There is an extensive exhibition about machine-made bobbin lace, also called Leavers lace. You can learn about the individual parts of the machines and take a close look at all the steps that are part of the lacemaking process. There are also other exhibitions about handmade lace and historical clothing. All of this is definitely worth a visit!

Detail photo of a Valenciennes lace
Detail photo of a Chantilly lace

Creators of the World

Talitha is a trained costume designer and works as a garment master at a theatre in Leipzig. On the side, she has completed an apprenticeship in bobbin lacemaking and will tell you a lot about it in this episode. She will show you some of her current and past bobbin lace projects and give you some book tips.

We are very happy to have Talitha on our podcast! Do have a look at her Instagram account if you want to see more of her work!

Early 17th century Dutch men's costume made of green fabric and white bobbin lace
Early 17th century Dutch men's costume made of green fabric and white bobbin lace
Detail of 17th century dutch shoes decorated with bobbin lace roses

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