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Introduction to the Bobbin Lace Patterns

When I started making lace, I found it difficult to find new patterns to work. I started designing my own, simple patterns, and decided to put them on the web for other lacemakers to use. They are free, and there are no ads on the website, because I'm not really interested in money!
Click here for the patterns on my website. Click here for the lace patterns in my lace books.

Who can use these patterns?

Any lacemaker may download these patterns for her (or his!) own use. I hope you enjoy using them! You can print them out, including further copies to pass onto your friends if you want to.

Any lace group can use these patterns, or any other part of my website for the use of your groups, including putting them in your newsletters or on your website.

Anyone teaching bobbin lace may copy any part of my website, including the patterns of course, for the use of your students.

Anyone who has bought one of my lace books may, of course, use any of the book patterns, but you are welcome to use the patterns on my website as well.

Anyone who is inspired by the patterns to make their own artworks (or indeed, lace patterns) - well, I'd be honoured! As far as I'm concerned, such creative work (and its copyright) is yours, and nothing to do with me.

I'm not sure who else would be interested in the patterns! If you are, for some reason, and it is for your own use, or for an educational use, or no profit is made from such use, then go ahead and use them.

Any of the above can use these patterns without contacting me. If you are not sure or have some other use (or want a chat!) then email me.

If you have any problems with using the patterns, either printing them, or when working the lace, let me know and I will try to help.

How can I download these patterns?

Find the pattern that you want. If you have a Windows computer, then right-click on it (using the right button of the mouse rather than the left button). That will give you a mini-menu with various options such as print, or copy, or save.

Or you can print the whole page. Click on 'File' (top left of screen) then Print.

You can also 'screen capture'. In Windows, the key on the keyboard saying PrtScn will copy whatever is on your screen into the clipboard. So do this to a screen with the required pattern, then go into a program such as a word processor, and click on Paste.

Apple computers, and other systems, have their own way of doing similar things. I gather that smart phones and tablets are not always easy to print from. Go away and find a proper computer!

What thickness of thread for a pattern?

A particular pattern has a particular size, which can be found by looking the distance between the pinholes. Do the measurement on the printed pattern, not the computer screen! Thicknesses of threads vary. A thicker thread will require a bigger pattern, and obviously, a thinner thread, a smaller pattern. How do you know which thread to use?

I have been asked this several times, and I'm afraid that I can't answer it very well! Patterns in books often give precise instructions for the type of thread (which will be a certain thickness). Unfortunately, these types of thread never seem to match the thread that I buy! I buy cheap thread, or non-standard material, and they don't mention a thickness. So I have to guess. Also printing patterns off from a computer seems to vary quite a lot, according to the printer and for all I know, the operating system and the computer. So I do not give thread thicknesses, or guarantee that the pattern will print out the right size!

So what can you do? I suggest that you try working a pattern of a particular size with the thread you have. Then see if it's too loose or too tight. There is a wide range that is acceptable, but you might prefer a particular effect. When you get it right, mark on the pattern which type of thread you used. Perhaps you could tape a sample of the thread onto the used pattern. Next time, you have that as an example to follow.

Eventually you will be able to check a pattern by eye to see if the size is suitable. I must confess that I still sometimes print out a pattern more than once to get the size I want!

Generally speaking, if you are making an important piece of lace, for example, for a gift, then I suggest that you work a small part of the pattern first. This will make sure that the thread width and pattern size is right, plus that the colour scheme (if you are using one) does work. I also find that I make mistakes on a new pattern at first, and this first attempt gets all the mistakes out of the way! Then you can start again, and work it properly with confidence.

To see how thick thread is, a quick way is to roll it between your fingers to feel if it is thin or thick. A more accurate way is to wind the thread round something like a pencil, making sure each circuit lies by the side of the previous circuit. Then you can count the number of windings per inch (or centimetre). Try that thread out on a pattern, and make a note of what pattern size it fits.

How do I make the pattern bigger or smaller?

This gets a bit technical, I'm afraid! There are several ways:

Repeating a pattern

The patterns on this website may be too short for you. In fact, you may want a pattern longer than a sheet of A4, which could be problematical if you were trying to print it out! So you may need to repeat the pattern.

The easiest way is to print out several copies of the pattern, until you have enough. Figure out where the repeat is, and identify a possible start line (somewhere obvious, where it is easy to join two pieces of pattern together). Take one copy of the pattern and cut across it at this start line. Now place this copy over another copy, so the cut edge is exactly on top of the same line in the pattern below, so the pattern flows correctly from one copy to the next. Glue it here. You can, if you prefer, cut both copies along this line - one near the bottom and one near the top, and then you can tape both copies together. Do this to all copies, so you have one (glued-together) piece of paper. Trim it to make it workable, check that it is long enough for you, prick it, and fasten it to your pillow.

Such a long pattern will almost certainly require a block, roller, or bolster pillow. If you have a roller pillow or a bolster pillow, then you may be able to make a longer piece of lace than the pattern. But you will need a pattern long enough to fit right round the roller (or bolster). That means, when you have worked a complete circuit of the roller then you get back to where you started, and can use the same pattern for a second time. You are unlikely to get the pattern exactly the right length to fit round snugly. Do not worry. Make the pattern (slightly) longer than the roller, and glue it in a cylinder, so the pattern matched end to start. Slip the roller inside this cylinder. Only fasten the pattern onto the roller at the start, and for a couple of inches below (or more, if you are using a bolster). As you work down the pattern, turn the roller, take out pins from the back, and from time to time, add an extra edge pattern pin or two to keep the pattern in the right place. I tend to find that if I am not careful, that the pattern slowly 'walks' across the roller! Try to stop that happening, by being firm with the edge pins. While the cylinder of pattern is slightly loose (except where you are actually working), this does not matter. Roller pillows have a gap at the bottom, and the loose bit ends up there.

In the old days, people would copy a pattern, or repeat part of a pattern to make a longer one, by pricking it. So they would lay the pattern over some paper (or possibly pricking card) and prick through not only the pattern but the paper underneath. When you do this, the paper ends up with a pattern of pin holes. So you can annotate this pricked but otherwise plain paper how you wish, to show the different parts of the pattern. That is why old patterns are quite simple,and don't for example, mark how the threads go in ground. The lacemakers couldn't be bothered to mark it on the pattern!