What Is Bobbin Lace?

The advance of technology brought a lot of changes to the world of fabrics and clothing. Certain products became much easier to produce and as a whole fashion became something that more people could afford. However, with the automatization of fabrics and threads, certain practices were also lost to time.

Lace was one of the most important handmade crafts back in its day, but things changed forever when machines finally managed to make complex designs. And as such the tradition of making lace started to fade into the background, until recent times of course. Nowadays Bobbin Lace is getting more and more traction, but what exactly is this practice? And why is it becoming a more common sight? Today we’ll go over the basics of Bobbin Lace, so make sure to stick till the end!

What Exactly Is Bobbin Lace?

Bobbin Lace is a handmade lacemaking technique that dates back to the 15th century. The name comes from the techniques’ reliance on bobbins to braid the resulting lace. A Bobbin Lace is made by braiding and twisting multiple threads that are each still attached to their bobbin, hence the name.

To begin with, a surface must be covered with pins which will help in keeping the pattern intact throughout the process. Then the different threads need to begin intersecting and overlapping each other multiple times throughout the pattern. While Bobbin Lace can look overwhelming at first glance the fact is that compared to other crafts the amount of precision needling is relatively low. Nowadays patterns can be printed online or bought in stores, and once you understand the order Bobbin Lace doesn’t demand much more than moving each bobbin in the correct order.

Bobbin Lace is also known as Pillow Lace since pillows are the most common surface used to secure pins. Some people still refer to the craft as Bone Lace, since bones fulfilled the role of pins back in the day. But regardless of the name, the method is the same, and the result comes in the form of some of the most detailed handmade laces you can make.

What’s The History Of Bobbin Lace?

As we mentioned above the first registered mention of Bobbin Lace dates back to the 15th century, to be specific the year 1493. While the practice was far from common certain books and even a will in Italy mentioned the craft of making lace with bobbins.

Eventually in 16th century Italy the craft started to evolve into its modern form. Italy had a large market for “passementerie” the art of applying unique trimmings to clothing. This lead to the slow development and popularization of Bobbin Lace as an alternative. Bobbin Lace was a simple evolution of the traditional braiding technique which allowed people to easily make complex patterns. On top of that, the materials needed for Bobbin Lace were affordable, so the craft took over Italy and quickly spread across Europe thanks to travelers and merchants.

Bobbin Lace remained popular throughout most of Europe’s history since then, but the industrialization of the fashion industry ended up replacing it eventually. With more affordable and efficient ways to do lace, modern Bobbin Lace is first and foremost a hobby craft.

What Is The Current Role Of Bobbin Lace?

Nowadays Bobbin Lace is mostly known as a hobby craft. Machine-made lace is inexpensive, easy to produce, and is often as detailed if not more than traditional handmade lace. So interest in commercial Bobbin Lace is scarce and is mostly limited to dedicated fans. Nonetheless, Bobbin Lace still has an important place in lace culture, the craft is recognized as one of the two main categories of handmade lace.

The fact that Bobbin Lace is seen as the most approachable method to make laces ultimately helped its revival. The craft was inherited inside families for generations and eventually became a popular hobby in more recent years. Nowadays Bobbin Lace might mainly be a hobby craft, but the quality, tradition, and history are still present in every lace.

What Materials Are Needed To Make Your Own Lace?

Getting started with bobbin lace is easy, and ultimately you’ll need 4 main materials to get started. Of course, the first thing you’ll need is to get yourself some bobbins of your own. Each thread must have its dedicated bobbin so make sure to buy multiple units. Bobbins come in a lot of shapes nowadays, but a traditional elongated bobbin is the best option if you are just starting. The bobbins don’t have to be the same color or shape, so you can use this to help identify each thread.

You’ll also need a lot of needles, the needles are what make sure that you can braid the pattern, so get firm ones. To secure the needles most people use a pillow, however, keep in mind that it has to be a solid pillow. You need each needle to be firmly secured throughout the entire process. Last but not least you need a pattern. If you don’t find a dedicated pattern on your local store you can simply print one online.

What Are The Most Common Threads Used In Bobbin lace?

Cotton thread is by far the most popular pick for Bobbin Lace projects. Cotton is light so the constant braiding won’t make the resulting lace too heavy or too thick. It’s also easy to handle and comes in a wide variety of sizes and colors so there’s a lot of room for choices when using cotton.

However, that doesn’t mean that other threads can’t be used in Bobbin Lace. Linen and Silk are also common picks for the craft, and there are synthetic threads that work fine as well. Ultimately as long as the thread is thin, light, and easy to handle you should be able to use it for Bobbin lace projects.

What Is Bobbin Lace Used For?

Just like its role in history, Bobbin Lace is mainly used to add fine details to other fabrics. The elaborate patterns can be stitched to clothing, tablecloths, placemats, napkins, and so on. Bobbin Lace is also seeing a resurgence in certain fashion events, so it might not be too long before we see lace making a resurgence in dresses all over the world.