Lace Identification

Lace is a textile fabric. It is constructed from one or more threads worked together in such a way as to produce a fabric which has dense, closely wrought areas and open holey areas arranged in a decorative way.

The first stage in identifying a piece of lace is to recognize the technique which has been used to make it. If you are able to work the basic stitches for each type of lace it does make the recognition easier. It's not necessary to be an expert; just able to work the stitches or make the knot etc.

I have identified five main types of lace:
§ Bobbin Lace which is made with numerous threads, each wound onto its own bobbin and supported on a firm pillow. The threads are twisted together, following a pattern which is pinned to the pillow and the interwoven threads are supported by pins as the work progresses. The woven appearance of the more closely worked parts of the fabric is one of the main ways of identifying a piece of lace as being a bobbin lace.
§ Needle Lace is made with a sewing needle and a single thread. It is essentially buttonhole stitches worked into buttonhole stitches; embroidery without a background fabric. Often the lace is worked into an outlining thread which is couched to the pattern and then when the work is completed the couching stitches are cut and the finished lace is freed. Other needle laces are worked as edgings directly onto a supporting fabric.
§ Embroidered Laces are a variety of needle laces which include some of the supporting fabric, or a machine made tape, within the design. It also includes the hand decorated nets.
§ Craft Lace, for want of a better description, are all the other hand-made laces and includes tatting, crochet, knitting, netting, macrame, sprang and the wheel laces.
§ Machine Lace can be grouped according to the type of machinery used for the maufacture; Early bobinette machines, Leavers, warp knitting and Raschel, Barmen and weft knitting.

"Real lace" - bobbin and needle laces - are usually named after the geographical area of Europe where that typeof lace was originally made and pre-19th century lace will nearly always originate from its home area.

During the 19th century major shifts in world economies along with the growing competition from machine made lace meant that the production of hand made lace declined sharply until the end of the 19th century when many forms of needle and bobbin lace were revived as cottage industries; often in simplified form, and often in developing countries around the world, but the traditional names stayed with the various types of lace. By World War 2 lacemaking was all but dead until it was resurrected as a hobby/craft with the best pieces being true art forms.

Dating of lace is a difficult subject; beyond the scope of a few web pages, but lace followed the general fashion trends with the spikey (Gothic) designs of the 16th - early 18th centuries giving way to the floral Baroque of the mid 17th - early 18th centuries, followed by the busier Rococo designs of the early - mid 18th century. 18th century designs became lighter with less patterning and more ground and then the early Victorian era (mid 19th century) saw the rise of the florid Neo-Baroque designs which developed into the heavy ornate styles of the late 19th century, culminating in Art Nouveau at the turn of the 19th - 20th century.

Valid HTML 4.01!
BobbinLace§NeedleLace§EmbroideredLace §CraftLace§MachineLace


Home Page§Allhallows§Weddings§Lacemaking§ThreadsforLace§Painting&Drawing§FamilyHistory§Terry'sPage