Jenny Brandis' Handcrafts

Anatomy of a torchon lace pattern

Often when you look at older lace books and the plethera of patterns on Pinterest you really only have the pricking itself to decide if you want to try that particular pattern. If you struggle to 'read' the pattern it can be very easy to skip over a really lovely pattern.

In books you at least get a photo of the finished lace but even then it is the designers rendition of their dream for that pattern. YOU CAN CHANGE IT.

This is a shocking thought for the beginner lace maker that the patterns are guides only and they (the beginner) can decide for themselves just what stitches to use.

This will be my attempt at explaining how to read the pattern and deciding on which stitches to change.


  1. Copyright and this page
  2. Anatomy of a Pattern
    • The footside
    • The ground
    • The lozenge
    • The trail
    • The chevron
    • The spider
    • The diamond
    • The fan
    • The headside
  3. Reading the dots and lines
  4. Different ways of drawing a pattern element
  5. Reading the International Colour Code
  6. Doing your own thing
    • Footside - Winkie Pin with passive
    • Footside - Straight Torchon Footside
    • Ground - Torchon Ground
    • Ground - Double Torchon Ground
    • Ground - Twisted Torchon Ground
    • Lozenge - Cloth Stitch
    • Diamond - Cloth Stitch
    • Diamond - Half Stitch
    • Diamond - Half and half
    • Trail - Cloth Stitch
    • Trail - Half Stitch
    • Chevron - Cloth Stitch
    • Chevron - Half and half
    • Spider - Simple Cloth Stitch
    • Fan - Whole Stitch
    • Fan - Cloth Stitch
    • Fan - Half Stitch
    • Fan - Cloth Stitch with a gap
    • Fan - Half and half

Copyright and this page

Copyright as it relates to this page - the page format and all content is copyright to me (Jenny Brandis) with the exception of the Images and PDF that I have marked as being in the Public Domain of a Creative Common Licence.

You are going to see a plethera of patterns (that are in copyright) on the internet and friends will offer you patterns and workshop notes (that are in copyright).

Wherever possible buy your patterns, books etc and attend and pay for workshops.

I do not know enough about each countries copyright law to give further advice.

Anatomy of a pattern

This sample pattern is one I designed to help explain the different parts of a pattern for a facebook lace group, Click on it to access the PDF file as that holds the pictures from this anatomy section.

This page in a PDF

The footside

The Footside area

This edge area is used to sew the lace onto fabric and there are many decorative lace stitches that can be used to good effect.

The simplest is the Winkie Pin Footside but the most common seems to be the Straight Torchon Footside.

The Ground

The Ground area

The ground is the background stitch that holds it all together.

Commonly worked in
Torchon Ground (CTpCT)
Twisted Torchon Ground (CTTpCTT)
There are other varieties of Twisted Torchon Ground
Whole Stitch (Double Torchon) Ground (CTCTpCTCT)

The lozenge

The Lozenge

The lozenge is generally worked in any of the following
Half stitch (CT)
Cloth stitch (CTC)
whole stitch (CTCT)


The trail

The Trail

Worked over a continuous strip, the trail can be a Narrow Trail (over 2 pinholes wide) to a Wide Trail which is 3 or more pinholes wide. It requires 2 or more corners to be called a trail. (straight is called a Lozenge and a single cornered piece is called a chevron)

Stitches used can be
Half Stitch (CT)
Cloth Stitch (CTC)
combination of the two

Corners in the trail can be worked in a variety of ways. The Australian Lace Guild list 5 in their Torchon Stage 1 Proficency

The Chevron

The Chevron

Also called a heart.

Comprising of 2 lozenges and a corner the Chevron lozenge sections can be of various lengths.

The Chevron pictured can also be called a Heart due to its similarity. A series of this shaped chevron that has a gimp surround would definetly look like a string of hearts and are often used in this manner.

Stitches used in chevrons
Half Stitch (CT)
Cloth Stitch (CTC)
combination of the two

The Spider

The Spider

This spider is worked inside a 4x4 pin area and is the smallest size you can work a spider.

THe diamond

The Diamond

Also called a Block.

Stitches used in Diamonds can be
Half Stitch (CT)
Cloth Stitch (CTC)
combination of the two

With time you can also use a Diamond area to house more.

THe fans

The Fan

Individually known as a Fan, Scollop or Shell

Fans can be worked in many different stitches but the most common use a variation of Cloth Stitch.


THe Headside

The Headside Edge

This edge is the decorative edge that traditionally is not sewn down onto fabric (that is the job of the Footside)


THe pattern if colour

The parts make up the whole

Anatomy | Reading | Changing | Different ways of drawing a torchon lace pattern
Reading colour coded torchon lace patterns

1997-2019 Jenny Brandis

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