Hollie Point

A late 18th century linen child’s cap decorated with a band of hollie point A late 18th century linen child’s cap decorated with a band of hollie point Copyright Victoria and Albert Museum, London, acc. no. 146 to D-1907

Hollie point (or holy point) is a form of flat needlepoint lace with rows of hollie stitches: knotted buttonhole stitches worked over horizontal, stretched threads. Hollie point was popular in England from the seventeenth to the early nineteenth centuries.

The designs are of the negative or voided type, which means that the pattern is created by a series of gaps in the overall design (in a similar manner to Assissi work), rather than as a positive design, which is more commonly found. Its name is sometimes said to come from Holy Work, as in a form of lace made for the Catholic Church prior to the Reformation in England. Other writers say the name derives from the holes that create the various patterns. By the eighteenth century it was generally regarded as a form of domestically made lace, rather than a professional form created in ateliers.

The designs associated with hollie point are animals, birds, flowers and geometric forms. Often a flowering plant in a pot is depicted, which is said to represent the Lily of the Annunciation, or if just a pot, then either the Holy Grail, or a chalice used to hold wine during a mass. The end result is a piece of lace that is completely flat with no raised edges, which makes it suitable for decorating baby clothes, etc.


  • MARSH, Gail (2006). 18th Century Embroidery Techniques, Lewes: Guild of Master Craftsman Publications. Paperback edition 2012, pp. 122-129.
  • POWYS, Marian (1953). Lace and lace-Making, Boston Mss: Charles T. Branford Company, p. 17.
  • THOMAS, Mary (1934). Mary Thomas’s Dictionary of Embroidery Stitches, London: Hodder and Stoughton, p. 121-122.

Digital source

V&A online catalogue (retrieved 6 July 2016).


Last modified on Wednesday, 04 January 2017 17:29
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