"I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it. "
- Pablo Picasso
Have you ever admired those beautiful lace dresses that you’ve seen in fashion stores and boutiques? Did you know that lace is not only made by machines but also by hand? Lace is and has always been a luxury fabric. It is the most stunning, romantic and elegant type of fabric till today. Although lace making methods and materials have changed over the centuries, it is still the one of the most popular fabrics of choice when it comes to apparel, home decor and accessories. Lace making first started in Italy and then slowly spread to France, Brussels and Russia. All these places have their own types of lace which are made using specific techniques.
What is lace making?
In lace making, openwork patterns and designs are formed by the interlacing of threads like cotton, silk, or wool. The beautiful art of lace making first began in Italy with geometric patterns and representations of animals and human figures. In the later centuries, as techniques and people evolved, new patterns and designs were introduced, such as florals and the rococo patterns.
Uses of Lace
Lace is widely used in apparel and home furnishing items like table-cloths, curtains, place-mats, etc.
What are the different types of lace?
The two main types of lace are hand made and machine made. The hand made lace is usually regarded as the ‘real’ lace which uses linen thread. For machine made lace, silk, cotton, rayon, nylon and other threads are generally used.
Hand Made Lace
Also known as pillow lace, Bobbin lace is made by weaving threads held on bobbins and pinning them on top of a pattern that is pinned to a pillow. To make this popular lace, you will need a bobbins, pillow, thread, straight pins and a pattern of your choice. All these tools come in various shapes and styles.
Needle Point Lace
This is an intricate type of lace. Needlepoint lace is made by using a single thread technique with the help of embroidery stitches. A ground material, such as a leaf is used, which is no longer an essential part of the finished product. The main stitch used for Needlepoint lace is the buttonhole stitch.
Crocheted lace is one of the most popular laces around the world and more so in colder regions. It can be made in the form of chain stitch, shells, double crochet and more in order to create intricate lacy effects.
Darned lace is more famously known as darned net. So the technique used is called darned netting which is a form of decoration made with a darning or running stitch and a needle. This gives beautiful geometric and figurative designs.
This is actually a term used to cover a group of laces which are created by various forms of knots. It includes lace trimmings which are made in many countries. Macrame is another form of a Knotted lace which is knotted by hand, and so is tatting, which is made with a tatting shuttle to create lark’s head knots.
Machine Made Lace
The unique Schiffli lace is made by modern machines using needles having points at each end. Hundreds of needles are placed horizontally, the fabric is held vertically in a frame and the needles are supplied with yarn from individual spools to interlace the yarn with the needle loop.
Leavers lace is an incredibly fine lace with complex patterns. Due to this, it is often called the ‘Queen of Laces’ and is mostly used in high end, luxury apparel. In fact, the super-pricey Chantilly lace is a type of Leavers lace. This lace used to be made by leavers lace machines, which are no longer manufactured now, but other modern machines are used instead.
Raschel lace is machine knitted lace and the machine used is called a raschel machine. This lace can be either rigid or stretchy. It can be made all over the fabric and as narrow lace bands. It is the fastest and easiest type of lace to manufacture and is slightly less expensive than the others.
Ratine lace is a coarse, bulky lace and is made of coarse yarn. It has a ground of heavy loops which look like that of a terry cloth.
It is made in an almost similar manner as the hand made Bobbin lace, but only with the help of a machine. This type of Bobbin lace also requires similar materials and tools.
This intricate lace is made using the lace curtain machine which has its origins in Nottingham, UK. This machine is mainly used for coarse lace production, requires larger bobbins and the pattern threads are wound independently on section spools.