Bobbin Lace Lesson -
      Cloth Stitch, Half Stitch, Double Stitch

  How to Make Bobbin Lace
  Bobbin Lace Lesson
  Bobbin Lace Tutorial

  © Lorelei Halley 2012 
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   Plaited Lace Lesson I    

   Plaited Lace Lesson 2    

   Plaited Lace Lesson 3    

   Plaited Lace Lesson 4    

   Lesson 5 Tallies   

   Plaited Lace Lesson 6     

   Plaited Lace Lesson 7  

  Tape Lace Lesson DMC47 

  Color code
  Half Stitch
  Double stitch 


First review Bobbin Lace-Basics for how to wind bobbins, make the hitch, shorten the bobbin thread, etc.


First, practice the basic movements: cross and twist. At left, each line represents one thread. All bobbin lace is made of two basic movements, the cross and the twist. We always work with 2 pairs of bobbins.

Take 2 pairs of bobbins. Think of the bobbins as occupying 4 positions from left to right: 1-2-3-4. Think of the numbers as applying to the positions, not the bobbins. As you work the bobbins will constantly change position.

Lift bobbin in position 2 over the one in position 3. This is a cross. Then renumber the bobbins in your head.

Then simultaneously lift 2 over 1 and 4 over 3. This is a twist. Then renumber the bobbins in your head.

All bobbin lace consists of these two movements worked with varying pairs of bobbins, in varying sequences, in varying pinning patterns.

 cloth-stitch-whole-stitch      bobbin lace pattern

Pick a pattern size that matches the thread you will use.  This pattern is for learning the basic stitches.  In the photo, the solid area that looks like woven cloth is called cloth stitch or linen stitch.  (Some British lacemakers call it whole stitch.)

The bottom half of the photo is called whole stitch, double stitch or whole throw.  Some British lacemakers call it whole stitch with a twist.

Cloth stitch areas occur in most bobbin lace, often to make the major motifs stand out, as a major design element.  But it also occurs in the foot.  The footside is the edge that is sewn to the fabric.  Double stitch often occurs in the footside also.  In many laces some major motifs will be made in cloth stitch, and some in half stitch (which has a very different appearance).  This gives an interesting variety in the densities of different parts of the lace.  These density differences were used to enliven most traditional laces, instead of color.

Lay the pattern on top of a piece of pricking card (review this for what to use for the pricking) and prick through the paper straight down as accurately as possible.  Your lace can never be any better than your pricking.  Prick a length about 8-10 inches long

If you are using a cookie pillow, pin the pricking to the pillow a little above the center.

 The stitches for twist crossers:                             
open method

In the diagram above, each line represents one thread. This shows the twist cross method, which is the one I use. (Doris Southard also uses twist cross, and I learned from her.)

There is an international color coding system for representing different stitches on diagrams.

Below are diagrams of the three major stitches: cloth stitch, half stitch, and double stitch. Some lacemakers in the world do half stitch as twist cross, and some do it cross twist. There is some controversy about this, but I believe it is pointless. The lace will look the same whichever way you do it. But you must be consistent all the time, in the same piece, or your lace will be ruined. I do it twist cross.



cloth stitch 
 Cloth stitch is represented by purple. Cloth stitch is done the same way by everyone in the world, although different names may be used.

  Cloth stitch = ctc                                                   

Each intersection is cross twist cross = ctc. 

In the diagram at left each line is one pair.

All the variations on this page use the same side-to-side horizontal movement of the weaver (the active pair).  But you can still achieve great differences in the appearance of the lace by varying the sequence of movements at each intersection.

In diagrams 1- 4 each line is 1 thread.

Cloth stitch, first row, left to right.

With the 1st 2 pairs do a cross, then twist, then cross. 

Set the 1st pair aside.

With the 2nd and 3rd pairs work cross, twist, cross.

Set pair 2 aside, also.

With pairs 3 and 4, do cross twist cross.

  2 Continue across the row until all pairs have been worked.

Set the right hand pin so that 2 threads are to the right of the pin, and

  close it by working another cloth stitch underneath it, with the same 2 pairs.

  3 Starting the 2nd row, right to left.

Set the 1st pair on the right aside. 

With pairs 2 & 3 (counting from the right) work a cloth stitch:  cross twist cross.

Continue across the row from right to left, cloth stitching each pair in order.
  4 When you have worked through all the pairs, set a pin after 2 threads (so 2 threads lie outside the pin).  This kind of edge is called "pin after 2 edge" or "winkiepin edge".

The 2nd row completed.

A video of cloth stitch being worked on a bolster pillow.

Double stitch, also called whole stitch, cloth stitch with a twist, or whole throw

In this diagram each line is one pair.

Work the pairs in the same order as for cloth stitch, but add a twist before each stitch.   The sequence for each intersection is:

  twist cross twist cross.

  half stitch   half stitch
Half stitch                     *

In this diagram, each line is one pair.

Work each intersection as twist cross.


In this stitch, all the pairs split up.

In the red and beige sample, notice that the bottom half has a red weaver in every row.  I achieved this by putting 1 extra twist on the weaver as it went around the pin.
  5 In diagrams 5 to 8 each line is one thread. 

Start the first row.
 6   First row completed.
  7 Close the right hand pin.  Start 2nd row.
 8   Complete 2nd row.


The pattern Square3 is a good one for practicing different edge stitches.
There are many possible variants of this basic strip.  Below are some of them.
cloth stitch with double stitch edge.
Do twist cross twist cross with the weaver and the edge pair on both the left and right edges.   But do cloth stitch with the weaver and central passives.  The travelling direction and sequence remain the same.

half stitch with double stitch edge

Then do a variation with doublestitch as the edge stitch,   but half stitch for the central passives.


  winkiepin edge
 sewing edge
Up till now all the edges have been "pin after 2 threads".  But "pin after 4" is more common in laces like torchon, Bedfordshire, and Cluny.

 Winkiepin edge or "pin after 2" edge.  (Pin after 2 threads)

 Sewing edge or "pin after 4" edge.  (Pin after 4 threads)  You can use square 3 to practice the sewing edge, or any of the strips at the top of this page.

   sewing edge   sewing-edge
sewing edge, doublestitch the passives
This is a diagram of the sewing edge.  In this diagram each line represents 1 pair.  All the intersections are     

       twist cross twist cross            or              TCTC

Set the pin after 4 threads, so 4 threads go around the outside of the pin.  This is called "pin after 4 edge" or "sewing edge".  Return with the pair nearest the pin as weaver.
  sewing edge, cloth stitch passives
In this version work the weaver and central passives as cloth stitches:        CTC

But work         TCTC       with the weaver and each edge pair.

The right hand sample has more pairs than the diagram, but the yellow sample matches the diagram.
   In this version work      TC     with the weaver and each central passive.

 But work             TCTC       with  the weaver and each edge pair. 

 The photograph sample has more passive pairs than the diagram.
  Make a few inches of each of these variations, until you are confident that you can easily switch from one to another.  The ones presented here are only some of the possible variants.
I have posted the same tutorial on
If you have any questions or difficulties with this, contact me by joining  and posting your questions here:

For full list of free bobbin lace patterns, see     free patterns  

First posted March 2012.          Last edited:   01/19/20