Bobbin Lace Part 2: The Rest of the Story

February, the month for Valentines, seemed to be a perfect time to learn all about lace and lacemaking. Our Guild has an active group of lacemakers who invited Anita Hansen of the Doris Southard Lace Guild of Cedar Rapids to be our guest speaker.

The first part of Anita’s presentation focused on bobbin lacemaker Doris Southard, who was a member of our Guild. That was covered in Bobbin Lace Part 1.

Anita concentrates on her bobbins.

Anita described lace as a type of cloth where threads outline holes. It should be noted, however, that not all textiles with holes are lace! In lace, a pattern is formed with the holes and denser fabric.

Lace has a long history. At one time it could only be worn or afforded by nobility to show their status. Lace was made in many European countries. England, France, and Italy were highly competitive. Each area had its own style of lace.

In time commoners started making lace to adorn their clothing. One could often determine where a person came from by the style of lace worn.

Anita helps us visualize the crossing and twisting techniques used in bobbin lace with help from Pat, Sue, and Dawn.

Bobbin lace is a type of weaving without a loom. Threads wound on bobbins make up the warp and weft. Regardless of the style of lace, it is all made using the same techniques. The bobbins are used in pairs to cross and twist the threads. Pins are used to anchor the weaving according to the pattern. The work is done on a special pillow which comes a various shapes depending upon the type of lace being made or personal preference.

The tools of bobbin lace: six pairs of bobbins, the pillow, the pattern showing the pricking, and pins.

The number of bobbins required varies greatly. More complex continuous patterns may use a hundred or more bobbins! Plan to use more bobbins when working with fine threads.

Take a look at some of Anita’s examples to see how many bobbins were used for each piece of lace.


Tape lace is not continuous. Its pattern meanders back and forth. This type of lace is less labor intensive and uses fewer bobbins.

Fewer bobbins are needed for tape lace. Still beautiful!

A third type of bobbin lace is made in parts or motifs that are fastened together. Motif lace also uses fewer bobbins than continuous lace.

Anita brought a work in progress for her demonstration.

Anita checked all her bobbins to see they were in the proper sequence. On the right, an enlarged image of the lace is used for reference.
This close-up shows how pins are used and the finished lace. Anita cut off several yards of completed lace before she came to our meeting.
Watch Anita demonstrate bobbin lacemaking.

Our Guild’s bobbin lace group, who refer to themselves as the Twisted Sisters, generally meet once a month at the Guild. They invite anyone interested in giving lacemaking a try to join them. They have extra tools and materials to help you get started. Email Teresa at or Dee at for more information. 

We thank Anita Hansen for sharing her love of bobbin lacemaking with us and for supporting the lacemakers in our Guild with her expertise and knowledge. 

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1 Response to Bobbin Lace Part 2: The Rest of the Story

  1. Pingback: Bobbin Lace Part 1: Doris Southard, Lacemaker | Northeast Iowa Weavers and Spinners Guild

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