Hairpin lace

When this hairpin lace dress was donated to the FIDM Museum in 2007, we had to give ourselves a crash course, because we weren’t familiar with this form of handwork. Worked on a small, hand-held “fork” or loom with a crochet hook, hairpin lace is a relatively quick form of handwork. The adjustable fork produces long strips of hairpin lace which can then be crocheted together into a variety of garments and accessories. Contemporary patterns suggest using hairpin lace to make shawls, baby blankets and small accessories such as earrings, while sources from the early 20th century suggest using hairpin lace as a garment trimming. The dress seen below was made by the donor during the 1950s out of synthetic straw. She also made a baby blue version of the same dress!
20079141acHairpin lace dress
Gift of Betty Mayer

20079141ac-3Bodice of 2007.914.1A

In the image of the bodice, you can clearly see the vertical strips of hairpin lace and also where the strips are joined with crochet. The zig-zags are the crochet stitches, while the horizontal sections with a knot in the middle are the strips of hairpin lace. Also notice the scalloped bodice, which was created through thoughtful placement of the hairpin lace strips.

In the skirt detail below, the hairpin lace strips have been placed horizontally and the number of crochet stitches between the sections has been increased for visual interest. You can also see the that the center knot in the hairpin lace strips is intentionally off-center. If you were wondering about modesty, rest assured that the entire dress is lined with pink acetate fabric.

20079141ac-4Skirt detail of 2007.914.1A

Hairpin lace seems to have benefited from the resurgence of interest in crafting. When this dress was donated in 2007, it was difficult to find retailers who sold the fork necessary to create hairpin lace. A quick online search in October 2009 revealed a surprisingly large number of online informational sources about hairpin lace. There are numerous forks available online, from hand-crafted hardwood beauties to utilitarian mass-produced versions. There are also video tutorials available, including this one. Let us know if hairpin lace catches your fancy…we’d love to see your hairpin lace garments!

6 responses to “Hairpin lace

  1. r4i says:

    Hey it is very fine design and very good pattern too… I have a very nice red dress but not as work as like this all. This dress have small work at all places, none is remain. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Jess says:

    Is there a pattern for this dress?This dress would be fun to up date. The work on this dress is amazing.

  3. Rachel says:

    Hi Jess,

    I’ve never seen a printed pattern for a hairpin lace dress. You might be able to find something similar in 1950s craft or fashion publications. Maybe check Ebay for patterns too.

    Good luck!

  4. FIDM Museum says:

    Hi Michelle – great sleuthing! Thanks for sharing these patterns.

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