A Medallion of Frisado de Valladolid-Style Lace to Stitch

PieceWork’s 11th-annual Lace Issue, May/June 2018, explores lace techniques from around the world. Carolyn Wetzel’s stellar frisado de Valladolid-style lace medallion is the perfect introduction to a centuries-old Spanish technique. This gold and silver lacework can be traced back to the peak of the Spanish Empire during the 1500s and 1600s.

Here’s Carolyn to tell us more about the threads used in this stunning type of lace.

In stitching this medallion, you will learn the most common elements of frisado de Valladolid needle lace traditionally made with gold, silver, and silk threads. There are two methods for making gold passing threads, each of which results in different handling properties and appearance. The first type is manufactured by drawing out a thin metal wire, flattening it, and wrapping it around a cotton, silk, or synthetic core thread. This method is used to make most European metal threads. The wire is composed of different metals depending on the grade and color of the thread, ranging from 2 percent real gold to 0.2 percent real gold in threads labeled “gold” or “gilt,” respectively. (Similar processes are used to make silver and a multitude of other colors in nonprecious metal passing threads.)

The second type is manufactured by applying a layer of gold, silver, or colored polymer on a support such as paper or thin plastic, cutting the sheet into narrow strips, and then wrapping the strips around a core of cotton, silk, or synthetic thread. These threads are not well suited for frisado de Valladolid lace because the wrapped strips are too wide, making the curves irregular; plus, the strips tear easily when being drawn through the stitches.

Frisado de Valladolid

Carolyn Wetzel’s stellar frisado de Valladolid-style lace medallion is the perfect introduction to this centuries-old technique. Photos by George Boe.


  • Gütermann S303 Thread, size 100/3, 100% silk, 100 meter (109.4 yd)/spool, 1 spool each of Red and Burgundy
  • Access Commodities Gilt Smooth Passing Thread, Fine #4 with Silk Core (Met-4653), 18 meter (19.7 yd)/spool, 1 spool
  • Pellon Apparel Interfacing, medium-weight woven sew-in, SF785, 55% cotton/45% polyester, 2 squares, 4 inches (10.2 cm) each
  • Paper, White, 2 squares, 4 inches (10.2 cm) each
  • Con-Tact Self-Adhesive Clear Covering, matte finish, 1 square, 4 inches (10.2 cm)
  • John James Needles, size 28 tapestry and size 9 embroidery
  • Sewing thread, 1 spool of Dark Green
  • Fire Mountain Gems Round Hoop, H20-4108FY, Focal, gold-plated steel, 2 inches (50 mm) in diameter with 4 internal loops
  • YLI Wonder Invisible Thread, size .004, 1,500 yard/spool, 1 spool of Smoke (used to attach lace to the metal hoop)
  • Scissors, embroidery and another pair to cut metal thread
  • Tweezers
  • Jewelry pliers

Finished size: 2 inches (5.1 cm) in diameter

Carolyn Wetzel has been exploring the techniques of needle-made laces for more than twenty years. She traveled to Spain twice to study the history and technique of frisado de Valladolid. She is compiling a list of frisado lace in museums and private collections; if you have information about accessions that you think are made with this technique, please contact her at frisadoproject@gmail.com. When she is not making or teaching lace, Carolyn is working on a Master Weaver certificate and has a full-time job teaching college biology in western Massachusetts.

To make Carolyn Wetzel’s stellar frisado de Valladolid-style lace medallion, get a copy of the May/June 2018 issue of PieceWork. For more on stunning Spanish lace, read “The Lace Mantilla: A Centuries-Old Spanish Tradition,” which is also from the May/June 2018 issue.

Featured Image: Make your own frisado de Valladolid-style lace medallion with Carolyn’s step-by-step instructions.

Learn more about the history of lace in PieceWork!

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