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!
Hairpin lace dress
Gift of Betty Mayer
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.
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!