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Bobbin lace strips

Click here for Torchon strip patterns. Click here for Bucks Point strip patterns. Click here for English Midland strip patterns.

This website is mainly concerned with Torchon Lace and Bucks Point, and for both these styles of lace, plus many others, the basic shape is the strip. This must be learned before attempting any other shape, and the other shapes are based on it. The following are all strips:

Bobbin lace strip

Bobbin lace strip

Bobbin lace strip

In all these examples, the lace is started on the left, and finished on the right. Note the neat start, and the fussier finish - inevitable in lace, alas! You start by hanging pairs of bobbins on pins, which gives the neat start. You end by tying off which will never be as neat.

While lace is often shown sideways (as above, and as in the photos of lace on this website), it is worked downwards, which is why I show the patterns like that:

Bobbin lace strip

The start is at the top, and I give how many pairs should be hung from each pin. This particular pattern has gimps, so I show that as well.

When I talk about the edge of lace, I do not mean the start or the end. I am talking about the left and right sides as you work. An edge can be curved or frilly, and that is called a headside. Or it can be straight and strong, which is called a footside. Lace is often sewn onto fabric, and you use the footside edge for this. A common style of lace strip is to have a headside and a footside. You may notice that I always have the headside on the left and the footside on the right. This is the traditional British way to work bobbin lace. Other lace traditions have the footside on the right.

Bobbin lace strip

It is possible to have two footsides, which is called an insertion (as it can be used as a lace panel, set into fabric on both sides). The pattern above is an insertion. It is also possible to have a headside on both sides. So you have to be able to work footsides and headsides on either side, whatever lace tradition you belong to!

An insertion has a constant width throughout. If you have a headside (or two headsides!), then the width of the lace usually varies (although there are some straight headsides). Despite this, bobbin lace strips have the same number of bobbins throughout. You hang them all from the start, and work them down the strip, and they all get tied off at the bottom. That means that if you cut through the width of the lace at any point (horrible thought!) you would cut through the same number of threads. The lace becomes wider or narrower either by pairs of threads getting bunched up or spread out more, usually within the headside. A Torchon lace headside tends to spread out the threads more for the wider area, while Bucks Point tends to bunch up the threads at the narrower places.

Bobbin lace strip

So if you want to count how many pairs a Torchon lace pattern needs, draw a line across the narrowest part, and count how many threads cross that line.

Bobbin lace strip

For a Bucks Point pattern, draw a line across the widest part, and count the threads that cross that line.

This page describes typical patterns. There will always be exceptions. For example, gimps may be added while working lace, then finished off, then added again.