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Types of Lace

Alencon lace has a fine net ground and an enhanced outer border. Today, a majority of such type of lace is machine made. It is generally used as trimming for wedding gowns.

Chantilly lace is a type of bobbin lace. It was originally produced in the town of Chantilly, France. It was well accepted during the 17th century. It is designed by a fine net ground and delicate flowers, scrolls and branches. The design is commonly outlined with heavy silk thread. This lace is generally used in wedding gowns.

Battenberg lace, also popularized as Renaissance lace, is made by using loops of woven tape held together by yarn brides to form patterns. Making Battenburg lace was a recognized hobby in the United States in the early 1900's. It is now made by machine and is commonly used for tablecloths and in bridal gowns.

Venetian Lace, created in Venice, Italy, is a weighty lace with floral, sprays, foliage or geometrical designs. In the 17th century this lace was accepted as more valuable and had greater regard than jewels. Women of this era put it on the sides of their skirts and the range of layers of their lace petticoats would be seen. This lace garlanded kings as they were crowned and the garments of the wealthy were heavily covered with it. This lace is still utilized today, particularly for wedding gowns.

Machine made lace In the early 1800's Lace machines were developed to make lace. John Leavers created a machine in 1813 that made designs and backgrounds at the same time. The Leavers machine set up the production of intricate lace patterns similar to those made by hand. Lace produced on the Leaver's machine is called Leavers Lace.

Raschel lace is made on a Raschel warp knitting machine. This type of machine can make laces similar to those made on the Leavers machine, but at higher speeds and at less expense. At present a majority of the manufactured lace in the market is made on Raschel knitting machines. Laces that are multifaceted, light and delicate are produced cheaply and faster on these machines.

Princess Lace This type of lace is used mainly for wedding veils and other ceremonial occasions. The net is made by machine and the flowers are made with a needle by hand.

Nowadays, wedding gowns pay more attention to details. Simple designs were preferred in the past. But the concentration is now shifting to adding a small amount of detail. This detail typically covers some type of lace appliqué. Currently, the historical gowns are also in demand as they are the latest trend. The 18th century gowns are well-known today. These gowns have more lace than some of the gowns from other historical periods.

Using bobbins and needles are the two basic techniques that are being used since the 17th century for making fashionable lace. However, one can also use a crochet hook, knitting needles or a tatting shuttle to make lace. Moreover, machine-made nets can also be embroidered to give unique patterned laces. Holes are formed in the lace when lace is being made and are not cut out later.

Bobbin Lace

Bobbin lace is made from multiple threads, each wound on separate bobbins. The design (pricking) of pin-holes is marked on a stiff card which is tied to a firm pillow packed with straw (nowadays a piece of polystyrene is often used). Though more threads can be added (or removed) as the design progresses, few threads are fixed at the beginning of the pattern. Basically, all the stitches involve two pairs of bobbins, i.e. four threads. Once the stitches are made, they are held in such a position that the pins are pushed through the pin-holes, in the pricking, into the pillow. The pattern motifs, which can be outlined with a gimp (a thicker thread), are usually worked in cloth stitch (forming areas resembling woven cloth) or half stitch (giving a more open effect), but more elaborate filling stitches are also used. There are two ways in which such bobbin laces are made. One is a continuous process of making straight laces, where the motifs and ground of meshes or bars are made in one continuous process. Second is a process of making part laces, where the motifs are made separately and then joined with bars or a mesh ground. Once the lace is finished it is released from the pattern by removing the pins.

Based on their place of origin, the different styles of lace are named and the traditional English bobbin laces described below are no exception. Honiton Lace

Named after the town in Devon, which was the center of a lace-making area, Honiton lace is a part lace traditionally made with very fine thread. A major advantage of part lace at the time when hand-made lace was produced commercially was that the various motifs could be made by different lace makers. This meant that large items like shawls and smaller items like collars, all could be finished faster. In contrast, the lace makers today, prefer working on their own and making separate motifs which are complete in themselves.

Bedfordshire Lace

Bedfordshire Lace was made not only in Bedfordshire, but also in other counties of East Midlands' lace making areas like Buckinghamshire and Northamptonshire. Created around the middle of the 19th century and inspired by the 17th century laces, this lace later developed features of its own. Some of the delicate ones, especially those designed by Thomas Lester, were also borrowed from Honiton lace. Technically, it is a straight lace and the pattern motifs are usually joined with bars of plaited threads.

Bucks Point Lace

Bucks Point Lace, one of the East Midlands laces, was made all over the area and not just in Buckinghamshire. Created in the 18th century, it is an English version of a type of mesh-grounded lace. Traditionally made with fine thread (not as fine as that used for Honiton lace), it is a straight lace in which pattern motifs are often outlined with a thicker gimp thread.

Torchon Lace

Torchon Lace is an exception to the rule about names. Surprisingly, the French word Torchon means a duster! It was not regarded as a very fashionable lace in the 18th and 19th centuries; hence was given a rather pejorative name. In Britain, Torchon is often the first bobbin lace learnt, but there is nothing second-rate about it today. It is a straight lace with a type of mesh ground different from that found in Bucks Point.

Needle Lace

Needle laces have the same basic techniques for all types of laces. The design is drawn on a parchment (nowadays architect's linen) and this is fastened to a backing fabric. Foundation threads are then couched down along the lines of the design with threads which pass through the pattern and underlying fabric. The design motifs are then filled with rows of buttonhole stitches, each end of the row being linked to the foundation thread. The motifs are then joined with short bars or a mesh ground of buttonhole stitches. The motifs can be also embellished by attaching extra threads to the outlines of the motifs. This raised outline (cordonnet) can be decorated with picots (decorative loops) as well. Once the lace is finished it is released from the pattern by cutting the threads which couched down the foundation threads.

As in the case of bobbin lace, needle laces are often named after the place where they were first made, like Venetian Gros Point and Alençon are perhaps the best known. Each type of lace has its distinctive features. Today's needle lace often adopts techniques from different styles and tries to create something distinct.

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