Lace Identification 7 Examples

Lace Identification: Seven Examples

Lace is a decorative openwork fabric, gradually built up by the interworking of free threads. The threads are forming holes and solid parts that are essential for the design and deliberately made by special movements like cross and twist.

The first mentioning of lace can be found in the fifteenth century and its popularity expanded in the sixteenth century. There are two main types of handmade lace, namely needle lace and bobbin lace. Needle lace is made with a single thread and one needle, while bobbin lace is made by manipulating multiple threads, wound on bobbins.

Machine made laces emerged during the Industrial Revolution, from the end of eighteenth century. The first machine made laces consisted of a machine produced net, made out of one continuous thread, where the pattern was applied by hand. A further development was the production of patterned laces, sometime around 1840, which could imitate handmade pieces per excellence.

The imitations of handmade laces flooded the market and it can be very difficult to distinguish machine made pieces from their handmade models. This display presents seven examples, each juxtaposing two similar laces from the TRC collection. One is handmade and the other one is machine made.

The exhibition tries to explain the small, but significant differences in the technique of the handmade lace and its machine made imitations. This display categorises the provided examples based on filling, gimp, ground, edge and sides of the lace.


For this online exhibition:

  • Author: Lisa Dilitz and Olga Ieromina.
  • Web-design: Joost Koopman
  • Exhibition design: Lisa Dilitz, Olga Ieromina and Willem Vogelsang
  • Publisher: TRC Leiden.
  • Year of publication: 2019
  • Copyright: All illustrations of objects housed in the TRC collection can be used free of charge, but please add to the caption: "Courtesy Textile Research Centre, Leiden" and the pertinent accession number of the object.

0. Cover page

Lace is a decorative openwork fabric, gradually built up by the interworking of free threads. The threads are forming holes and solid parts that are essential for the design and deliberately…

1. Two lace bands

The illustration to the right shows two lace bands of a type that was used as a decoration for traditional Dutch caps in the early 20th century. Both examples follow…

2. Two narrow lace trims

We have two examples of narrow lace trim from the first half of the 20th century, which were used for various types of decoration. They have a similar pattern, namely…

3. Two lace collars

The two laces illustrated here were used as a decoration around the neck. In both examples the pattern is formed by curved solid lines ending with buds. They are produced…

4. Two pieces of airy lace

Here we have two pieces of airy lace with a floral design in the style of Belgium rosalin lace, which were widely used at the end of the 19th /…

5. Two pieces of Venetian lace imitation

We have two lace examples from the beginning of the 20th century, which imitate the style of 17th century Venetian lace. The stylised flowers and leaves are joined by bars/braids…

6. Two pieces of straight lace

Here we have two examples of a straight lace with a similar hexagonal ground and floral pattern. The handmade piece (TRC 2015.0250) is a continuous-thread Mechlin bobbin lace in the typical…

7. Two pieces of black Chantilly lace

In this example we have two pieces of black Chantilly lace. They have a similar pattern with sprigs of flowers, which was fashionable in the second half of the 19th…

8. Terminology

Beveren lace: Beveren is a town in Belgium where this specific type of lace was made in the nineteenth century. Cantu lace: Cantu is a town in Italy, associated with…