LACE COMES OF AGE:
Lace from the 17th to the 21st Centuries
October 4th, 2008 - Febuary 3rd, 2009
technique, bobbin lace,
which was far quicker
than needle lace and could be mastered with far less training.
lace, which required the outlining of the motifs with a fine thread
later completely covered with buttonhole stitches, remained the
By the mid 17th century a new concept of lace making evolved
to meet the
demands of a new age. Rather than outlining the motifs with a fine
narrow, flat bobbin lace tape was used. Infilling stitches were
connected to the
edges of the tape and the buttonhole stitching was eliminated. As the
wider, more space was filled and fewer needle stitches were required.
In the mid 19th century, the emerging middle class renewed the demand for lace. The new industrialists had wealth, and lace, which was previously restricted to the nobility, proclaimed their new social position. There were revivals of the needle and bobbin laces of the previous century, but the time-consuming techniques of traditional laces limited production. New lace techniques were developed to bring lace of age, such as Irish crochet, embroidered tulle, tatting, knitted lace and a revival of tape lace. The printed word was available to every household and women’s magazines proliferated, extolling the virtues of hand work.Tape lace now became one of the most popular techniques, as evidenced by the number of patterns published in magazines and printed on cloth that could be ordered for a few cents. The tapes were now made by machine and evolved from a simple straight tape to a wide variety of shapes, simulating the designs of bobbin lace. From mimicking needle and bobbin lace, the new tape lace soon took on an identity of its own with bold designs, applique techniques and works of large scale appropriate for garments, curtains and table covers. Traditional needle lace stitches were explored and new stitches were invented, stressing ease of working and quick filling of the open areas. Buttonhole bars were reduced to twisted threads and net infillings were replaced by webs of tulle. Tapes became wider to further reduce the open area that required needle infillings, and eventually reached a point where no infillings were necessary, since the tapes simply attached to themselves.