Designing Bobbin Lace

For those who want to talk about designing bobbin lace, whatever style.

Members: 107
Latest Activity: May 9



For modern work look at where photos of really innovative work are posted daily.


Uta Ulrich GRUENDE MIT SYSTEM, Verlag Barbara Fay, 2009. 448 grounds


Bridget Cook & Geraldine Stott BOOK OF BOBBIN LACE STITCHES, Branford, Watertown Mass. 1980. 262 pages.  A great variety, but omits some continental grounds.

Cook & Stott INTRODUCTION TO BOBBIN LACE STITCHES. Batsford, London, 1983. 86 pages.  Adds some continental grounds omitted in the 1st book.  I would call these the most basic ground.

Christine Hawken  121 HONITON FILLINGS  "121 HONITON FILLINGS: this a a good book for the experienced Honiton lacemaker who wants ideas for fillings.  Each filling is well graphed and diagramed.  The only drawback is that the pictures of the fillings are not of the best quality.  But that is understandable since the book was published in 1997." review by Cathy Kozlowski, IOLI LIbrarian       IOLI B-298 121 Honiton Fillings


NKO 1983 - 2008 

Discussion Forum

International Torchon Lace Design Competition 1 Reply

Please take a look at the competition rules and prizes as it would be fantastic to see your entries.

Started by Jenny Brandis. Last reply by Jenny Brandis Aug 31, 2016.

How can you design lace when you can't draw? 21 Replies

Paula's Honiton Cowis a good illustration of how one can design a piece of lace without possessing drawing skills.…Continue

Tags: tricks, Design, Lace

Started by Devon Thein. Last reply by Gul'naz Taylor Jan 23, 2016.


   To start here is my analysis of the basic grounds used in bobbin lace.First some basic…Continue

Tags: bobbin lace fillings, bobbin lace grounds

Started by Lorelei Halley Administrator. Last reply by Lorelei Halley Administrator Nov 9, 2014.

Designing something a little different. 9 Replies

 Is there anyone else who likes to find something just that little bit different?ElsaContinue

Started by Elsa Elisabeth van Baaren. Last reply by Selena Marie Joosten Dec 8, 2013.

Comment Wall


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Comment by Lorelei Halley Administrator on May 9, 2012 at 5:53pm

Nice turtle, Devon.  And it is an example of how half stitch expands and contracts, in the head and feet.

Many years ago I took a Honiton workshop with Sheila Wells, because I just could not understand what my books were saying about adding and removing pairs, or about making a tape curve.  So I used the workshop to learn those specific techniques, instead of bothering with Honiton fillings.  Sheila was very helpful in suggesting which patterns to try, that would teach me those things.  I came home with my head orbiting at about the height of a gps satellite.  In the first week home I designed 4 pieces of lace.  I can't exactly call them Honiton because the scale was far far larger than Honiton, and I used some elements not exactly Honiton.  But mostly Honiton technique.

So if you want to design figural lace, the easiest way is to use a part lace technique.  Take a class in basic Honiton or Duchesse.  Learn how to start a shape, widen and narrow it, and make it curve.  Then start designing using those elements.  For figural lace, part lace technique is a lot easier than any straight lace technique, at least for me.

Anybody who tells you that you have created an abomination is a nut case that you can ignore.  In any piece that you make purely for your own creativity, use whatever techniques get the job done.  The only reason to restrict the range of techniques is if you want others to be able to use your designs.  Some lacemakers can figure anything out.  Some have more trouble and less experience.

Now if I were to design Flanders, for instance, I would need a LOT more experience with it than I have to get the densities right and find the best outline for a dense motif.  For complex straight laces, I do think becoming a master at the particular style is probably a prerequisite. 

But for torchon, just learn the basics and then get some graph paper.  You need to understand torchon's rules for why the ground pins are spaced as they are, how the boundary pins on a cloth rectangle should be spaced, how to feed pairs into and out of cloth stitch motifs. 

For tape lace, just learn how to curve the tape, and how to do various joining methods, and start designing.

Comment by Devon Thein on May 9, 2012 at 5:27pm

I don't think there is any such thing as talking too much about the creative process in the Designing Bobbin Lace Forum.

Initially, when I wanted to design bobibn lace, my teacher informed me that lace design was only done by specialists in Europe, so I shelved that idea. Later on, I grew to doubt that bit of advice as I saw other people designing, so I asked a respected teacher about it and she suggested that if I wanted to design, I should try to learn as many techniques as possible to have the greatest palette, if you will. So, I took all sorts of courses, and always felt as though I was very much behind where I needed to be for lace design. Then one day I picked up the IOLI Bulletin and there were a series of charming animals that were in very simple stitches and the person who had designed them said she had been making lace for about a year. I could have kicked myself, because she had practically no techniques at all, but managed to use what she had very creatively. So, I realized that my problem was probably a lack of creativity, not a lack of techniques. I will also say that lack of confidence, inhibition and the tendency to take bad advice are at fault, and I try to fight these things, now.

It is great, I suppose if you are able to design in a particular discipline, but a lot of modern lace doesn't conform to traditional disciplines. The problem I find with modern lace is that sometimes you get to a place and want to do something, and you think, I would know exactly how to get these pairs over to this other place, or something, in a certain kind of lace, and then the light bulb goes off about how the various rules of certain laces developed. The same problems tend to exist in every lace, and all these different techniques evolved to solve them. But, since there are no rules in modern lace, you can just make it up as you go along.

Don't forget that you can always use a NEEDLE to correct any deficiencies after the fact. They did it in the past. There is no rule that you can't fill in an awkward area with an extra thread or two using a needle at the end.

Free your mind!


Comment by Lynn Stiglich on May 9, 2012 at 5:21pm

Great turtle! I like it a lot. And the idea of carrying threads is really good, since the ends are the real problem. I actually don't mind sewings either. We should have been having these discussions a couple years ago - BEFORE the "design a butterfly challenge"! Thanks! I'm going to take another look at my design...

Comment by Devon Thein on May 9, 2012 at 5:08pm

Call it Torchon, especially if the grounds are right angle. Lia also designed a Torchon course with a design component. I did not take it directly from her. But one of the exercises in the course was exactly what we are describing, in the form of a turtle. Yes, there are sewings, although the pairs can turn around and come back in, so as to minimize cut ends which are really the problem. I also plaited some threads between areas. Here is my piece from that course.


Comment by Lynn Stiglich on May 9, 2012 at 4:54pm

Yes, I agree and that was my approach when I designed the Russian tape lace bat - take the techniques Lia presented so nicely in the Russian tape lace butterfly and make something new. It's a lot of fun to puzzle out a design. I have been a little nervous about coming up with something other lacemakers would see as an abomination. So I'll relax about that a little and keep working toward more designing. 

A suggestion given to me a long time ago when I was taking cloth doll making classes, and intimidated about drawing faces on the dolls was this: draw something every day. If you want to get better, it takes practice - very much true in lacemaking, as well as a myriad of other endeavors. Just draw, doodle, really look at others' drawings. Keep a notebook and realize you have to draw long enough during a session to get warmed up - kind of like playing the piano or doing a workout. Then relax and have fun, don't judge - until later. If you can't see or decide what's wrong (or right) with your drawing, go away from it for at least 5 or 10 or 15 minutes. Make a cup of tea, get the mail, change the laundry, whatever. When you come back to your drawing and take a look at it all at once with fresh eyes, very often a problem or mis-proportion will jump out at you. Then you can work on it and learn from it. It's a fun creative process. 

Now I'm talking too much, and this comment may belong with another topic. At any rate, keep drawing and lacing and having fun!

Comment by Lorelei Halley Administrator on May 9, 2012 at 3:18pm

I think what Devon means by her idea is that you work the tape first.  Then hang a bunch of bobbins in along one of the narrow ends to work the filling.  And yes, there would be a lot of sewings, because the filling threads would have to be hooked to the tape periodically to make a stable lace.

But as to whether it is necessary to stay within the techniques used in only 1 form of bobbin lace, such as Honiton or Milanese, that depends on the designer.  There is no rule that says you have to do that.  Of course, as you point out, if you mix techniques from several styles, some lacemakers may not be familiar with all the techniques.  So if you want to publish such a pattern, you should probably plan on including diagrams, just of the difficult parts.

Personally, I don't see the need to learn all of bobbin lace before you start designing.  If you want other people to use your designs, then it might be a good idea to stay within the boundaries of one particular form.  So, for instance, if you take a class in Russian tape lace, and learn all the techniques, go home and start designing pieces that use the techniques you learned in the class, and stay to those methods only.

I have a tendency to talk too much.  And I would like to hear from others on this topic.

Comment by Lynn Stiglich on May 8, 2012 at 11:19pm

Re the idea of drawing an animal or silhouette, doing the outline in tape and then filling in with various stitches etc. - my two concerns are 1) how to bring in threads without a bzillion sewings and 2) if my creation isn't necessarily following a set of guidelines or practices for a given type or style of lace ie Honiton, Milanese or whatever, is it a good design, will lacemakers know how to execute it, and does or should this matter? I keep wondering if I need to know more about how lace works before I go off and design something. There are several elements to good design, one of them being the form or drawing. Btw the corgi is adorable!

Comment by Paula Harten on May 8, 2012 at 11:24am

How do we connect the discussion under my photo to this discussion for people looking for design ideas?  I will try just linking the photo here.wire bobbin lace Corgi

Comment by Devon Thein on May 8, 2012 at 7:56am

Hmm. Well, I guess that pet portraits based on flash-light silouettes will be limited to co-operative, or easily subdued pets. For pets in action, I guess a good camera will be required, or else some kind of stock photos of similar appearing pets who are professional models. I for one, have a Hamster calendar in which hamster photography has gone beyond kitsch to real art. When I received this year's calendar, I was stunned at how the hamster photography had improved. The personality of the hamsters seem to have been captured, rather than the usual posing of the hamsters with amusing props.  

I guess I should have another look at it. But sometimes mediocre photography produces a more usable photo for lace design, than better photography where the artist has captured a look, a mood, an emotion, sharp focus on fur, blurred background...joyfulness, despair...the quality of an ear raised in anticipation...

Sometimes it is better just to have a straightforward depiction of the animal with all legs in evidence, recognizable tail, etc.

Comment by Lorelei Halley Administrator on May 6, 2012 at 4:13pm

Devon: I'm laughing at the idea of grabbing a flashlight to capture a pet.  Cats are my thing.  The one thing you can be sure of is that they won't cooperate with whatever plan you have in mind.  Your idea about how to make an animal lace is a good one.  Personally I would use half stitch to fill the area between the tapes, or TCTC, with differing #s of twists as the space widens and narrows, or perhaps stars made of braids, or leaf daisies.  Plain mesh grounds tend to give a lace a static appearance.  One other problem is that what I love about my pets is the way they move, the characteristic postures.  It is so hard to capture that in a static image.

Has anybody else tried this?  Any other ideas?


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