Bobbin Lace from Tamil Nadu

Bobbin Lace from Tamil Nadu

Bobbin lace is a lace textile made by braiding and twisting lengths of thread, which are wound on bobbins to manage them. As the work progresses, the weaving is held in place with pins set in a lace pillow the placement of the pins usually determined by a pattern or pricking pinned on the pillow. Bobbin lace is also known as pillow lace, because it was worked on a pillow, and bone lace, because early bobbins were made of bone and ivory

Bobbin lace along with embroidery was brought to the Kanyakumari region by Christian missionaries from Belgium and England. In Christian families, the younger women inherit this skill from their mothers and grandmothers.



Bobbin lace, known also as pillow or pin lace, is inextricably linked to Christian festivities. Occasions such as baptisms and weddings call for the display of intricate lace work. Lace kerchiefs may be folded and placed on the top pocket of the groom’s suit or used as napkins to carry the baby during the baptism ceremony. Bobbin lace is woven in pairs of threads that are wound on bobbins.


Two stitches are used—half and whole stitch. Christian symbols such as the cross in varying widths and sizes, and motifs such as Mary with Jesus and the lambs were used as designs. Over a period of time, varying floral designs based on sunflowers, dandelions, pansies, ferns and animals such as butterflies, swans and fawns have been developed

The pillows must be firm, or otherwise the pins will wobble. The pillows were traditionally stuffed with straw, but nowadays polystyrene (styrofoam) is generally used, The major tools to make bobbin lace are a pillow, bobbins, pins and prickings. The part laces also require a crochet hook, very fine types of lace require very fine hooks. There are different types of pillows and bobbins linked to areas, eras and type of lace.


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