Embroidered Lace

Baby's gown, linen with embroidered lace, England, c. 1860/1870. Baby's gown, linen with embroidered lace, England, c. 1860/1870. Copyright Victoria and Albert Museum, London, acc. no. MISC.251-1987.

Embroidered lace is a general term for a needle lace that is made with a needle and thread on a woven ground, rather than on a (knotted) net ground, which would result in what is classed as embroidered net lace. Extant pieces of embroidered lace represent the earliest examples of European lace and date back to the fourteenth century. The four main forms of embroidered lace are: 

Picots: small loops (also known as pearls) used to make a narrow, decorative edging on the necklines and sleeve cuffs of garments, such as shirts and smocks. Picots were popular throughout the medieval period in Europe. As the edgings gradually became wider, the demand for more elaborate forms of decoration increased and the use of picots declined.

Open-work seams: open-work seams (also known as faggoting in English) is a method of joining two pieces of cloth together, using decorative stitching of varying degrees of complication, sometimes in more than one colour.

Cutwork laces: a lace form that consists of cutting out small spaces or holes from a ground material. The holes form the dominant element of the design. The edges of the holes are normally neatened using various stitches, but one of the most common is buttonhole stitch. Sometimes, embroidered designs are worked between the holes to create a more textured effect. Broderie anglaise is a good example of this type of embroidered lace, and so are eyelet lace and reticella.

Drawn and pulled thread laces: a form of lace whereby holes are made by pulling out threads from the ground material (comparable to drawn thread work, whereby fewer threads are removed) or by pulling them together (comparable to pulled thread work, whereby fewer threads are pulled to one side). This type of work is sometimes called cutwork lace, but this is incorrect, as the cloth ground is not cut. The threads removed from the ground material are normally replaced with another, totally separate yarn that is used to manipulate the remaining ground threads. The main design is concentrated in the drawn/pulled thread area, not the ground cloth.

Lacis net laces: this is where an embroidered pattern is worked on a woven net with a square mesh, or a pattern is worked on an open gauze-like weave cloth (usually with a double warp and single weft threads), normally decorated using a darning or running stitch. The square mesh form developed into a number of different styles and techniques, using a darning, linen or running stitch (e.g. buratto embroidery), while the open gauze style, at least in Europe, did not become as popular or diverse.

See also the strip of embroidered lace in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, and the schematic survey of needle made lace types.


Last modified on Wednesday, 25 January 2017 12:52
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