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Bobbin lace tape Bends and Curves

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Tape lace is made up of one or more tapes, made of cloth stitch or half stitch. The tape makes a pattern, by having bends or even sharp corners. This is shaped of the edge pins. These form the shape, which is preserved even when the pins are moved. However bends and corners can cause problems. The outside of a bend is longer than the inside. A normal working of rows means that there should be the same number of pins on each side. This means that either the outer edge has less pins than it needs, making it look very sparse, or that the inner edge has far too many pins. In fact, there may not even be room for the pins. There are different ways to approach this problem.

Gentle bend

The easiest way to deal with a bend is just to make sure that there are the same number of pins on each edge. Yes, they will be more spaced out on the outer edge, and closer together on the inner edge, but you may get away with it!

Bobbin tape lace - bends and curves

If the pattern that you are using doesn't have enough pin holes, then add them yourself. You can even prick them in while working the lace. You need a pin hole and there isn't one there? Jab the pin through the pattern anyway!

Double curve

If you have curves bending one way then bending another, then one side "gets ahead of itself" for the first bend. This may not matter if it then rights itself on the bend going the other way.

Bobbin tape lace - bends and curves

You will have to use your own judgement in this. If one side is getting too far ahead, then it won't work. But you might get away with it!

Turning stitches

There are stitches called "turning stitches". These are used at the end of the row. The worker pair does a turning stitch with an edge pair. This locks the two pairs together reasonably firmly, but does not need a pin. Below, there are two rows where a turning stitch is required. They are marked with an asterisk (*).

Bobbin tape lace - bends and curves

he worker pair stays as the worker pair. It starts inside the edge pair, and ends up inside the edge pair. It is important to tighten this stitch firmly. There is no pin to tighten against, so tugging on the workers alone drags the edge pair to the centre of the tape, which you do not want. However, once the worker pair has returned to the other side of the tape, you can tug the worker pair tight, then tug the edge pair to go in the direction you want (following the inner redge of the curve). You will probably have to tug all the other passives as well. Turning stitches seem to make all the threads bunch up! But gentle tugging sorts them out, and the first time I tried it, I was surprised that all threads ended up where they should be. This stitch really does work.

There are two types of turning stitch. Click below to see how to work them.

Bobbin tape lace - Turning stitchTurning stitch (cloth tape)
Bobbin tape lace - Turning stitchTurning stitch and twist (half stitch tape)

When making tape lace, I found that it was quite obvious where to do a turning stich. If one edge was "getting ahead" of the other one, then you do a turning stitch on the "getting ahead" edge (which will be on the inner edge of the bend), and that means that the other catches up. I am not sure if it would be a good idea to do lots of turning stitches toegether, without any pin in between to support them. It might work, but you'd need a lot of tightening to make it look well! I prefer doing at most two rows with turning stitches, then a pin, then more rows with turning stitches if necessary. Pins do help to support everything.

This description assumes that you have a simple tape, without any fancy edges. If, for example, you have footside without passive at the edge, then you can make the turning stitch at the edge of the cloth stitch part of the tape, and leave the "footside" edge pair out of this row all together. As we are on the inside of the bend, this left-out pair doesn't have far to travel to the next pin. This means that the turning stitch is inside the tape rather than at its outer edge, which helps to hide it.

Sharp Corner

Some patterns have a right angled corner, which can be tricky to do using equal numbers of pins, or even turning stitches. I worked out a way to do this. It is described here:

pic of lace Corner of trail or tape

Pillow lace - a practical handbook by Elizabeth Mincroff and Margaret Marriage (1907) has its own techniques:

Bobbin tape lace - bends and curves