Thread for lacemaking can come in a variety of materials: Linen, cotton, silk, yarn, or even wire.

Historical Threads

Historically, linen was the preferred thread for lacemaking. It is durable and strong, and was spun incredibly finely. Silk was also used, particularly in Chantilly and Blonde laces. Cotton was not used until gassing techniques allowed it to be spun smoothly.

Suitability of Threads for Lacemaking

A thread is suitable for lacemaking when it has a gentle S-Twist (i.e. it is spun to the left). Most threads you will find in a store have a very strong Z-twist (spun to the right), as that is better for use in sewing machines. Z-twist threads will result in a piece of lace that curls in on itself.

Natural fibers are vastly preferred.

Sizing thread

Lacemaking thread must always be matched in size to the pattern it is being used for. Different types of threads have different number systems, making it difficult to match thread sizes across fiber type and manufacturer. thread catalogs are coming to the rescue.

Threads for Beginners

Here are some basic thread size and pricking matches for beginners to start with. Either choose a thread that matches your pattern size, or resize your patten to match the thread. Always weave a test piece with a diamond in cloth stitch to see if the sizing is correct; if there are holes through the diamond the pins are too far apart, and if it bunches up, then the pins are too close together.

Distance between footside pinholes (mm)
DMC Pearl Cotton 12
Very thick, good for your first project. Available at most craft stores
DMC Broder Machine 50
Much finer, for when you have some more practice
Bockens Linen 40/2
Linen is the preferred thread, but is more expensive than the cotton options

see also