Lace Projects

If you are a complete beginner in lace-making, then I suggest that you start on the Beginner patterns page. Start with the samples, and try a few of the other beginner patterns as well. You need time to learn how to handle your bobbins and pillow and pins, and also how to do the basic stitches with confidence.

Once you are happy with the basics, you can look through my patterns and try some of them. Some use colour, some are just one colour, but you can always adapt them how you want. Some are quite complicated ideas, and some don't even really work! I tend to put up my mistakes as well as the patterns that do work, partly so other people can learn from them, and also, so that everyone realises that other people make mistakes too!

Once you feel that you have done some reasonable pieces of lace, you may feel, what next? You want to make something that you can use, or something to give to someone else. So this page is suggesting some projects for you to try. Some are simple and there are some harder ones as well.

Bookmark
Card
Edging and insertion
Corner
Mat or doily
Christmas decoration
Wedding Garter
Cross
Fan

Book mark

One project often suggested to beginners is a bookmark. This is just a strip of lace of the right size and shape. Jo Firth is a lace supplier in the UK who does sleeves for bookmarks. Click on Shop Online, then on Pots, Frames and Mounts (on the left), and scroll through the items until you find it. (The mounts may give you other ideas for projects!) I'm sure that there are other lace suppliers with similar sleeves.

A book mark should probably be symmetrical on both sides to look really neat (although this isn't essential). That means that it should have footsides on both sides or headsides on both sides. It should also start and end neatly. Probably the most typical shape for a bookmark is a pointed top and a straight end, possibly with a knotted fringe. The snake pattern, below, is one example. But you could try any pattern that you enjoy making.

Snake bookmark


Cards

Another simple project is to make a card featuring your lace. You can buy blank cards in craft shops, or card to make your own blank card. Make two slits in the front of the card, then poke the lace through the slits so the ends are inside the card. Tape the ends to secure them. You could write on the front of the card, or stick on a picture, or even just make the lace the only element on it. The lace could be in the centre rather than along the edge, or it could be horizontal rather than vertical.

There should be a contrast between the lace colour and the backing. So either buy card of a good contrasting colour, or stick on paper of a good colour behind the lace. Or of course make the lace in a different colour! You may also want to stick paper over the start and end of the lace which ends up inside the card, to tidy it up.

If you can't find blank cards or card anywhere, you can make a simple card by taking A4 paper (ordinary paper that you use to print out from the computer) and fold it in four. This will strengthen it enough to make it a card. Only make the slit in one quarter of the card - the bit that will end up in the front. After poking the lace through and taping it into position, you can stick half the paper to the other half, so you end up with a card. But before making slits or taping or glueing anything, hold it in your hand, and make sure that you're doing it in the right place, and the lace is in the front, and not upside down!


Edgings and insertions

Traditional lace patterns are usually for simple lace edging. It has a headside on one side, and a straight footside on the other, where you sew it onto the fabric. You can use this to edge hankerchiefs, or sleeves, or underwear, or anything else. There are a couple of problems with this, though. Most people don't wear lace as part of normal clothing which is seen, and it seems a shame to make lace whicch isn't going to be seen! More to the point, you may have to make quite a long piece of lace to edge something, and if you want lacy decoration to your sleeves at your wrists, remember that there are two of them, so you need to do twice as much!

Edging

If you do an edging to a hankerchief or round a mat or doily, then you will need to go round corners. However, if you don't feel that you can manage corners like this, you can make a straight piece of lace, then gather it to go round the corner. Many lace edgings are gathered throughout their length. This gives more of a 'frilly' effect to the lace. It also means that you need to make a longer piece of lace! Make the lace as usual, then run a thread through the footside. Gradually pull the thread tight, until you get the amount of frilliness that you want. Then sew it to the fabric.

Edging

Another type of decoration is an insertion. This has a footside on both sides. You cut out a piece of fabric the size and shape of the lace, and sew in the lace as a replacement. This is a specific style of decoration which isn't really used any more. You can, of course, just sew on a piece of lace as a decoration on your clothes without it being either an insertion or an edging.


Corner

If you can't face making a piece of lace to go right round a hankerchief or mat, then you can work just one corner. It is quite easy to make a triangle with Torchon lace. You can either cut the corner off the fabric and replace it with the lace triangle, or you can sew the lace over the corner of the fabric. Click here for more about corners.

Corner

Mat or doily

MatMatMat

Torchon bobbin lace (and many other styles as well) is made as a strip. You keep a fairly constant width to the lace, and work as much length as you want. You can make the lace turn a corner. If you fill the centre with cloth, then you have a simple mat (see first mat above). But it is possible to make a square of lace. You work a triangle (which is easy in Torchon, as it tends to work to diagonals anyway). Then you turn the pillow through a right angle, and work another triangle. You do this four times, which takes you back to where you started. Then you can join the threads to the start, and you have a mat (see second mat above). You can also have a hexagonal mat, by using a hexagonal grid and turning the pillow six times (see third mat above). Click here for a description of how to make corners and complete mats, and click here for these and other mat patterns.

Mat

It is harder to make a circular piece of lace as a mat or doily, but it is possible. There are two types. One works a normal edging, but distorts the pattern so the stitches are closer in the middle and further apart round the edge. This has a hole in the middle (see left). The other is worked similar to a square mat (see above), but distorts the square into a circle (see right). The mat patterns page has some patterns for both techniques and a discussion of how to do it.

Mat
One problem with lace mats is making them big enough. Bobbin lace is very restricted in how wide you can make it, as more width means more bobbins, and there is a definite limit to the amount of bobbins that you want to handle! You can make a small centre to a mat, then an edging to go round it, and either link them together while making the second piece, or sew them together after (see right). You can even make a third edging to go round the lot! Mat Mat Another way is to make a spiral mat (see left).

Decoration

Christmas decorations

While exploring making round mats, I found that if you used glittery thread, they made rather good decorations for hanging on a Christmas tree. You could do this with small square mats as well, I suppose, but the round ones looked particularly attractive. Click here for some patterns. You can buy metallic or glittery thread in haberdashery or craft shops.

Decoration

Garter

If you know someone that is getting married, you can make them a wedding garter. This needs to be quite a long piece of lace, and have places in it to put a ribbon. Click here for some garter patterns.

Mat


cross

Cross

A mat is worked as four triangles, worked round until you meet your start point. A cross is worked in a different way. You work each arm separately, rewinding the bobbins each time. The simplest way is to start in the centre, working outwards and finisging off at the end of each arm.

Click here for patterns and descriptions of how to make various sized crosses, from very small to much larger ones.

cross

Fan

Fan

A lace fan is a strip of lace, bent round into part of a circle. It is a similar technique to a round mat. For this fan (see left), I bought a very cheap fan, took the fabric off it, and replaced it with my own lace. Click here for fan patterns and how to make them.

SMP Lace UK lace suppliers have some fan sticks for sale. There are some patterns, but no instructions. You can also use an existing fan for the fan sticks, or even make your own.


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© Jo Edkins 2011