Amazing articles on just about every subject...

Machine Made Lace

( Originally Published 1924 )

What inventors have accomplished in the respect of machinery for lace-making is truly marvelous. It was the application of the celebrated Jacquard attachment to lace machines that made possible the duplication of practically every pattern of lace made by hand. The machine-made lace is so perfect that even experts find it almost impossible at times to tell the difference between lace made by deft, cunning fingers and that made by modern machinery.

Ninety per cent. of all of the laces purchased are machine-made, so that through this process laces of a price within the purchasing power of any one can be had. The love of beauty of design and appreciation of daintiness can thus be satisfied.

Queens and princesses have chosen laces wrought by machinery for trimming trousseau garments. Just as for every other material employed in costuming there must be in choosing lace a differentiating between the garish and the refined.

Woven lace, the warp and weft threads used separately, and embroidery lace, the pattern embroidered on a ground, are the two varieties of machine-made lace.

The Language of Lace

Certain terms are used by those who speak the lace language which need to be understood by one who would become conversant with laces.

A fours—Ornamental stitches of various kinds used to fill up spaces between motifs.

Appliqué—an ornamentation which is made separately, either with needle or bobbin, and sewn by hand to a complete ground of bobbin or machine-made net.

Beading or bead edge—A series of looped threads which edge a lace.

Bobbins—Wooden or bone reels on which are wound the threads used in making pillow lace. These are sometimes weighted in the use of coarser thread, so as to draw the thread more taut.

Brides or bars—Ties or loops which are covered with buttonhole stitch or are twisted threads used between the edges of details forming the pattern, occurring in both needle-point and bobbin lace. Brides may be plain, or claires, or ornamented with loops, picots, or pearls—brides pictotées, or brides ornées.

Buttonhole stitch—This looped stitch is often used to form curves or festoons around the edge of the patterns of lace. Until the advent of the réseau, this stitch was almost the only one used in Venetian needle-point.

Cordonnet—The design in lace is often outlined with one or more threads worked together or separate or, as in the Alençon, with buttonhole stitch over a thread or a horse hair.

Dentelle—Derived from the French word meaning "tooth." Originally laces had a tooth-like border—hence the name. Before this term was adopted, lace was called passement, which later had a more limited meaning.

Fond—The mesh ground of needle and bobbin lace as distinguished from the pattern. This is also called réseau. Meshes are of many varieties : Spanish; point de Paris, used in Chantilly silk and blond lace; Early Valenciennes, round réseau; Mechlin wherein two sides of each thread are of plaited thread, the other four of twisted threads; cinq trous, five thread, characteristic of Flemish laces; later Valenciennes, square réseau; and others.

Grounds—Backgrounds to patterns formed of brides, needle-point, or bobbin nets.

Guipure—This term has been used with various meanings. For a long time it was used as the name for any lace with a heavyish texture made without a mesh. It now often refers to lace of heavy texture without a net-gimp.

Imitation—Machine-made lace of any kind.

Insertion—French, entre-doux-"Between two." Strips of lace having like edges.

Jours—Decorative parts of lace, such as the center of flowers.

Mat—The more solid parts of the pattern, also called toilé.

Passement—The pricked pattern of parchment for needle or pillow lace.


Purl edge—Purling loops which project and thus form lace edges.

Picot—Minute loops or knots worked on a bride, a cordonnet, or on a design.

Pillow lace—This may refer to a lace which is made entirely with continuous use of bobbins ; or the pattern may be worked, fixed upon a pillow, and the ground worked in afterward. Mocramé lace may be knotted while the threads are held on a pillow, but it is not called a pillow lace.

Point lace—Strictly speaking this should always mean needle-made lace, but the term is used too generally in respect to either needle-made or pillow-made lace to be of much value as a definition with-out further qualification.

Point de Neige (snow)—A name sometimes given to fine Venice needle-point lace, with many small flowers and clusters of picots which give the effect of snowflakes.

Réseau—A term used for the mesh background of both needle and bobbin-made lace. The réseau connects the toilé or more solid parts of the patterns together by filling the spaces between them with fine meshes, the make of which is varied, especially in needle laces.

Toilé—So called because it resembles linen or toilé. It is the clothing, "fond," or closer texture in the pattern of both needle and bobbin-made lace. The various details of the toilé in needle-point lace are usually outlined by a buttonhole stitch cordonnet, or sometimes merely by a single thread, and are then fitted to each other to form a complete design. The fitting together of several parts is well exemplified in Venetian cut-linen lace in which the fond is really of toilé, cut and joined by brides. In some Venetian lace, the toilé is wholly of needle-point work. In the earlier needle-point laces, brides were used, but in later ones, the whole background usually consists of a réseau.

Origin of Names of Laces

It is interesting to note the origin of the names of laces. Many laces were named after the city or territory in which they originated.

Alençon, originally made in Alençon, France.

Angleterre, French for English. The name given to Brussels laces which were said to be smuggled into England to avoid duty. Later the lace was made in England.

Argentan, a French city.

Battenberg, a name applied to Renaissance lace made of a braid which supposedly originated in Battenberg.

Bayeux, a French town.

Binche, a province of old Netherlands, near Flanders.

Bohemian, laces made in Bohemia, under govern-ment auspices usually; confined to tape-like bobbin lace or its imitation.

Bruges, Old Flanders, now a city of Belgium. Brussels, a city of Belgium.

Burano, a town in Italy, famous for Venetian point.

Carrickmacross, an Irish town not far from Dublin.

Chantilly, a French town now given over to the making of the machine lace.

Cluny, named from the museum of antiques in Paris, "Hotel Cluny," because the lace originally had an antique appearance.

Egyptian, after Egypt. Evidences of lace-making in this country dates back to 1,000 B. C.

Flemish, Dutch, Flemish, and Belgian laces differed in geographical location only, being of like type. The Flemish lace-makers taught their art all over northern Europe.

Florentine, Florence, Italy—imitates the torchon used in Italy at the time of the renaissance.

Honiton, a town in England established in Devonshire by Flemish refugees at the time of Queen Elizabeth. A special Honiton lace is called Devonia, after Devonshire, England. ,

Irish, originally made in Ireland, but now a variety of lace which is made in Armenia, Austria, Germany, Italy, China, and France.

Lille, old Lille of the Netherlands.

Limerick, this particular lace-making was started in 1829 in Limerick, Ireland.

Maltese, a bobbin lace which has been made in Malta since the commencement of the sixteenth century.

Margherita, a machine lace of the nineteenth century named after Queen Margherita of Italy. It is made in Venice.

Mechlin, the district between Mechlin and Lou-vain in Belgium has always been celebrated for making this lace. Laces of Lille and Arras, not distant French cities, are of the same character.

Nottingham. This referred originally to laces made in this city in England, but it refers particularly to curtain laces made also in America.

Paraguay—Originally laces were drawn work, but the Teneriffe laces were introduced into South America by the Portugese.

Valenciennes, a city in France.

Venetian, or Venice, originally made in Venice, Italy.

Home | More Articles | Email: