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Beautiful Bobbin Lace Hats

A lovely blue, large-brimmed hat.

What is Bobbin Lace?

Bobbin lace has been around since the 16th century where it evolved from passementerie (braid-making) in Italy. The yarns and threads used in bobbin lace became finer and colors more beautiful over the years. The lace was originally used to make braids and beautiful edging. Because making bobbin lace didn’t require expensive tools or notions and it was relatively easy to learn, it became popular as a way for women to earn a living. Until the invention of lace-making machines, hand lace-making continued to be popular throughout Europe, especially when lace-trimmed garments and other lace products were in vogue.

Today bobbin lace is considered a fine but not particularly popular craft. It is made with a variety of natural and synthetic fibers as well as with wire and other filaments. The techniques used today are similar, if not identical, to the techniques used years ago, with perhaps a more intricate repertoire of lace patterns among today’s lace makers.

Bobbin lace is made by braiding and twisting lengths of thread, which are wound on bobbins to manage them–hence its name. It is sometimes known as bone lace because early bobbins were made of bone or ivory or pillow lace because the lace is formed over some sort of pillow. As the work progresses, the weaving is held in place with pins set in a lace pillow, the placement of the pins is usually determined by a pattern or pricks pinned on the pillow.

Meet Bobbin Lace Hat Designer Daniela Banatova

I was lucky enough to meet (electronically) Daniela Banatova who has worked with bobbin lace for some time. Her work is amazing because it is so different from the types of ready-made lace we see today. Daniela makes hats using this technique, often using contrasting colors. She learned the technique while attending art textile design school. Her goal has been to give this old technique a new language and use it in new forms of “modern art.” She is currently creating hats which will be exhibited in April in Prague. Daniela was born in the Czech Republic, but currently lives and works in Florida.

How To Make Bobbin Lace Hats

Daniela uses old felt hats for a “pillow” on which to secure her stitches. She draws basic design lines on the felt hat with chalk. Than she uses her bobbins to begin to work around this pillow creating small sections at a time. She connects them using a crochet hook.

When she’s done with the hat crown, she sketches the shape of the brim on a piece of white paper making sure the center of this circle fits into the opening of the hat and creates a brim. Then she neatly sews the two parts together, and lastly adds starch as a stiffener. She puts the finished hat back on the felt pillow and sprays starch over it. When it’s dry, she repeats this step one more time.

Contrary to almost all lace makers today, she does not draw her design in great detail. She simply makes a basic sketch, and lets her imagination lead her design as it is created. This makes each of her hats unique. Why does she do this? “I think every woman wants to have something uniquely special–something that no one else has.” Inspiration for her hats comes from nature, but her style inspiration comes primarily from the 1920s through the 1940s. She considers this period a time when fashion emphasized female beauty and originality. I am thoroughly amazed by the detail in her hats, and one of these days, I’d like to give this unusual art form a try.

Have you ever tried bobbin lace? If so, tell us about your experience.


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  1. lou19 | | #1

    Incredible work!!!!!!!!!
    Are the bobbins the same size as used in traditional bobbin lace?
    I love seeing traditional skills re-invented
    Thanks for showing

  2. Artist01 | | #2

    Nice large free form design. I also make bobbin lace with all types of threads and copper wire. If anyone in interested in learning Bobbin Lace. Check out the International Old Lacers Inc. (IOLI) and plans for the upcoming convention in Bethesday Md the last week of July 2011. Hosting chapter is Chesapeake Region Lace Guild (CRLG) in the Washington DC Area. http://www.crlg.org

  3. User avater
    laceandbits | | #3

    @ lou19
    You ask "Are the bobbins the same size as used in traditional bobbin lace?"

    It depends on which bobbins you are thinking of as the "traditional" bobbins. Not the same bobbins as are used for Honiton lace, for example, as those are small and would only hold a couple of inches of this thick thread. But at the other end of the scale the traditional Russian bobbins are much bigger and capable of holding a lot of thick thread.

    Each region has its own design of bobbins to suit the style of lace, the thread used and the type of pillow worked on.

    This type of bright coloured, flowing-design lace has actually been around for several decades at least, but there is just more interest in it now than there was. Articles like this are a great help to lacemakers, as it raises our profile and lets the wider public know that lace doesn't have to be white and dainty.

  4. RoxieD | | #4

    I love the bobbinlace hats. Where can I buy a red one? I am a red hatter.

  5. User avater
    GreenTrunkDesigns | | #5

    Love unique hats!

  6. Rosies_stuffnsew | | #6

    I make bobbin lace. Though just small lengths of lace for costume pieces. Daniela must have garnered lots of patience in making her lace hat by hand. Good on you for giving this art a new lease of life.

    Bobbin lace gave me the patience to sew large projects.

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