Bobbin lace is beautiful and a lot of fun to make, but also very time-consuming! I've had many people ask how much work goes into making a large piece like my black silk and Swarovski crystal scarf, so I thought I'd share the process from design to completion. 

Step 1: The Design

My first task was to design the piece. I knew what I wanted it to look like, and just needed to draw up the pattern that I would pin to my pillow to give the lace its shape.

Fortunately, there are basic ground templates available for printing (the ground is the mesh design that holds the motifs together in bobbin lace), so I chose one for the type of ground stitch I wanted (a whole-stitch Torchon) and used that as a base to draw the special design elements. I had decided to go with spiders as my main motif for the scarf, and to try as many variants of this motif as I could, so I drew in the spiders where I wanted them against the Torchon background. I also indicated the spots where I wanted to place the crystals.

Designing a bobbin lace scarf

Step 2: The Pricking

In order for the lace to look its best, it's a good idea to carefully prick the pattern (i.e. make the holes where the pins will be placed while making the lace) before starting the piece. Once all the bobbins are set and there are threads everywhere, it's hard to place pins accurately if you're only working from a visual guide. By pricking the pattern beforehand, I can place the pins by feeling for the whole, and ensure a uniform design. I had a few sheets to prick, so this task alone took a few hours.

Pricking a bobbin lace pattern

Step 3: Winding the Bobbins and Setting Up the Pattern

I was using 88 pairs of bobbins for this piece, which ended up holding two cones' worth of black silk thread. When I have a piece that requires a large number of bobbins, I tend to alternate between winding pairs and starting small sections. This breaks up the monotony of winding, and also keeps me from having many pairs hanging freely and possibly getting tangled. By starting small sections, I can secure a number of pairs before winding and setting up another group.

Winding bobbins

Starting sections

Step 4: Working the Lace

Once all the bobbins had been incorporated, it was just a matter of working on the piece until it was at the length I wanted. Along the way, I made a few adjustments to the design (mainly in the placement of the crystals) and had to work through the usual problems: the occasional broken thread, a missed pin...

Working pattern

Placing crystal

In the end, I was very happy with the end result, and so was the recipient of the scarf.

And the total work time? Over 160 hours, from design to finish.

Bobbin lace scarf

Interested in Bobbin Lace?

We have a few items in the store to help you get started, and will have more available in the next months.

We don't have pillows at this time, but would be happy to point you to a few good sources for these.