Lace-making is an ancient craft. A lace fabric is lightweight openwork fabric, patterned, either by machine or by hand,with open holes in the work. The holes can be formed via removal of threads or cloth from a previously woven fabric, but more often lace is built up from a single thread and the open spaces are created as part of the lace fabric.
The most time-consuming but the most flexible of the lace-making arts, needle lace is regarded by purists as the height of lace-making. It consists of using a needle to stitch up hundreds and hundreds of little stitches to form the lace itself.
There are many types of needle lace - i.e. lace made using a needle and thread. Some of these laces can be made much more quickly than the finest of bobbin laces. On the other hand, some antique needle lace is made from a very fine thread that is not manufactured today.
Work is generally started by securing the main, heavier guiding threads onto a stiff background (eg thick paper) with stitches that can later be removed. The work then in a variety of stitches - the most basic being a variety of blanket stitch. When the entire area is covered with the stitching, the stay-stitches are released and the lace comes away from the paper.
As the name suggests, bobbin lace is made with bobbins and pillows. The bobbins, turned from wood, bone or plastic, hold threads which are woven together and held in place with pins stuck in the pattern on the pillow. The pillows contain straw, preferably oat straw or other materials such as sawdust, insulation styrofoam or ethafoam. Bobbin lace can also be made using copper or silver wire instead of thread.
Pairs of bobbins are twisted or braided to form meshes (also called "ground") or woven to form solid shapes, depending on the type of lace made.
Many styles of lace were made in the heyday of lacemaking (that stretched possibly between the 1500s-1700s) before machine-made lace became available. The advent of machine lace at first pushed lace-makers into more complicated designs (ones that the machines couldn't handle) and then eventually pushed them out of business almost entirely. The resurgence of lace-making is a recent phenomenon and is mostly confined to a hobby status.
Some well-known types of bobbin lace are:
- Honiton - A very fine English lace with many flowers
- Torchon - Well-known for its variety of beautiful grounds
- Cluny - Flowers, braids and picots make this light and "lacy"
- Bedfordshire lace (Beds) - this has flowing lines and picots (to foil the machines)
- Buckinghamshire lace (Bucks) - also very "lacy" with characteristic hexagon ground and often with a gimp thread (a heavier thread worked through for emphasis).
Cutwork, or whitework, is lace which is constructed by removing threads from a woven background, and the remaining threads wrapped or filled with embroidery.
Crochet lace is an application of the art of crochet. Generally it uses finer threads and more decorative styles of stitching - often with flowing lines or scalloped edges to give interest. Variation of the size of the holes also gives a piece a "lacy' look.
Originally crocheted lace was not regarded as true lace. Crocheting was considered a easy and less time consuming, but otherwise clearly inferior surrogate for "true" Lace such as bobbin lace, needle lace or netting. The first examples of crocheted lace try to reproduce the products of other lacemaking techniques as faithfully as possible. Later, the many possibilities and inherent beauty of crocheted lace were appreciated more.
Today, in the age of machine-made lace, such discussions seem quite pointless to many lace-makers.
There are several styles of crocheted lace:
- Filet crochet
- Irish crochet and its modern derivatives
- more freestyle crocheted lace, such as pieces striving to imitate reticella lace
- round filet crochet, quite different in technique than filet crochet
Knit lace includes Shetland lace, such as the "wedding ring shawl", a lace shawl so fine that it can be pulled through a wedding ring.
Tatting is a technique for handcrafting lace that can be documented approximately to the early 19th century. The instrument that is used is called a shuttle. A tatting shuttle is normally a metal or plastic pointed oval shape less than 3 inches long, but shuttles come in a variety of shapes and materials. Shuttles often have a point or hook on one end to aid in the construction of the lace. Tatting can be used to make lace edging as well as doilies, collars, and other decorative pieces.
To make the lace, the tatter wraps the thread around one hand and manipulates the shuttle with the other hand. No tools other than the thread, the hands, and the shuttle are used, though a crochet hook may be necessary if the shuttle does not have a point or hook. The lace is formed by a pattern of rings and chains formed from lark's head knots, called stitches. Gaps can be left between the stitches to form picots, which are used for practical construction as well as decorative effect.
Tatters may also use tatting needles instead of shuttles to make lace. A tatting needle is a long needle that does not change thickness at the eye of the needle. The needle used must match the thickness of the thread chosen for the project. Shuttle and needle-tatted lace look almost identical, but they differ in structure.
Contrary to popular belief, many people around the world actively participate in the art of tatting, and the craft is experiencing a resurgence in interest around the world.
Some believe that tatting may have developed from netting as sailors and fishers would put together motifs for girlfriends and wives at home.
Lace making as a business is classified as an industry based on its purpose. It can be in the manufacturing industry as a textile product (NAICS Code 314999) if what is produced is a new product, such as an article of clothing. It can be in the arts industry if the lace is considered to be a work of art (NAICS Code 711510), rather than a product.
There are a variety of ways people make money from lacemaking. Some sell their lace locally, at trade shows or via the internet. Others sell original patterns or kits they have designed themselves. And, still others teach lace making. The best way to learn more about the viabiiity of any of these business models is to participate in associations and workshops, subscribe to magazines that are related to your interests, and read books that give more in-depth information about the business.
The Basic Guide to
Pricing Your Craftwork
Basic formulas for pricing craftwork, retail or wholesale.
The Basic Guide to
Selling Arts & Crafts
Step-by-step help on over 150 topics for marketing your home made crafts.
The Basic Guide to
Selling Crafts on the Internet
Unravels the mysteries of selling crafts online with clear, step-by-step advice.
The Best of
Weaver's: Huck Lace
Huck Lace is a beautifully illustrated set of treasured articles and projects f rom Weaver's Magazine.
The Bobbin Lace
Step-by-step instructions, carefully graded projects for creating Torchon, Bedfordshire, Braided, Modern, other exquisite laces. 26 new patterns in all, including eye-catching motifs for bookmarks, edgings, inserts, corners and medallions.
Business and Legal
Forms for Crafts
A complete set of business and legal forms designed to meet the active craftperson's every need.
The Business of
Sewing, Volume 1
Sample price lists; lists of organizations and lending institutions; payment methods you can offer your customers; how to get a merchant account for credit card sales; how to collect money on past due accounts; buying in bulk with a list of suppliers and a sample letter to contact them; business and financial plans; studio design, networking; time management; tackling your fears; turning sewing into a business and making the transition; how to avoid getting frustrated; industry statistics.
The Business of
Sewing, Volume 2
How to make a "Consumer Price List", and how to structure a "Working Price List" and the use of both; what "Pricing" method is best for you and how to handle price resistance; how to conduct production analysis with a time and motion study; how to make a project inventory list; how to market your business; subcontractors or fabricators and how to hire them; E-commerce and on-line merchant accounts, web design, shopping carts and E-newsletters; how to write books and articles, teach seminars and workshops, and produce sewing audios and videos.
Encyclopedia of Needlework
Originally published in France in 1884, this anniversary edition provides fascinating historical information plus new additions that make it a classic.
Crafting as a
How to develop a thriving retail business.
Covers every aspect of starting and managing your own craft-based business.
Crafts and Crafts
Good business practice in dealing with customers, pricing, and presentation in the show booth.
Business Answer Book & Resource Guide
Answers to questions about starting, marketing, and managing a homebased business efficiently, legally, and profitably.
& Broderie Anglaise
Not a book for beginner heirloom sewers, but if you know the difference between Cutwork, Hedebo and Broderie Anglaise then you are likely ready for this book.
A Dictionary of
Immensely useful volume, containing over 400 lace-related terms such as Florentine knots, lappets, a pillow horse, winkie pin, spangles, reticella, honiton, guipure, and Tuscan filet, discusses the origin, nomenclature, date and sequences of development of the more controversial forms.
This book teaches the basic tatting stitch in a simple half-page of illustrated instructions. From there the reader moves on to increasingly challenging projects, including tatted earrings, a tatted beaded necklace, suncatchers, snowflake ornaments, a doily, and a tatted table mat. All projects include both written and diagrammed instructions as well as clear black-and-white photographs.
Hundreds of secrets to success in selling arts & crafts.
Offers weavers a sense of design mastery and a wealth of ideas and lace patterns.
This book not only defines hundreds of types of lace - including close-up photographs, drawings, and diagrams of many of them - it also discusses terms dealing with the history and manufacture of these amazing works of art.
Lace and Lace
Discusses techniques of making, mending, cleaning and caring for lace. Over 100 large photos identify Honiton, Flemish Pillow Lace, Irish Needlerun Tambour Lace, Brussels Rose Point, and many other important laces. Also includes complete instructions and drawings for making pillow lace and needlepoint lace.
The mittens, parasols, veils, and many more exquisite small-scale projects will delight dollmakers, lacemakers and embroiderers alike. There are even patterns for complete doll costumes.
The Lacy Knitting
of Mary Schiffmann
A founding member of the Lacy Knitters guild, Mary Schiffmann was a tireless collector of lace patterns and a delightful storyteller about her life and craft. Nancy Nehring has lovingly collected Mary's legacy, patterns ranging from simple edgings to an elaborate christening gown, and accounts of her life starting with her birth to missionaries in Japan and following her long life of lacy knitting in America.
The best ideas and information from 80 professionals in various fields of the craft industry.
Irish Crochet Lace
Techniques, patterns and instructions.
of Lace Designs
325 historic examples.
Full-color patterns, illustrations, and instructions show traditional stitch motifs and fillings, many adapted for smaller pieces and craft items. Find out how to make bullion knot grapes, leaf shapes, decorative braids, butterfly designs, and more.
Second Book of
Modern Lace Knitting
These patterns are collected from vintage knitting from over the years, and they are the best of the best.
Over 100 outstanding tatting designs selected from long out-of-print thread company leaflets of the 1920s, 30s, 40s and 50s, ranging from tiny coasters to a handsome checkerboard luncheon set, and including elegant collars, elaborate tracery patterns for doilies and luncheon mats, and delicately beautiful edgings for pillow cases, guest towels and table mats.
A short history of tatting.
The Technique of
Describes necessary equipment, explains terms and methods, and shows how to create Torchon, Bedfordshire, Bucks Point and other exquisite laces.
The Torchon Lace
The book includes 27 projects for lace, including nursery lace, fans, hearts, borders, and edgings, collars, frills, coasters, squares, handkerchiefs, and more.
Business: A Legal Guide
Explains legal principles that protect a crafts business and help it grow. It also provides practical advice on how to deal with day-to-day problems -- such as dealing with delinquent payments. The book provides over a dozen tear-out contracts and other legal forms, plus step-by-step instructions to fill them out.
Knitting and Needlecrafts
Anna offers a wide assortment of patterns for a variety of needlework styles, including knitting, crochet, cross-stitch, embroidery, weaving, and other crafts.
Inside tips on the coolest stitches and techniques to improve your stitching.
Each issue is 48 pages of crochet patterns from America's top designers. You'll find instructions and color photos in every issue. A variety of projects for those that take a crochet hook, yarn or thread with them everywhere.
Each issue is filled with instructions on knitting basics, tips for advanced knitters, projects large and small, and special designer projects and techniques.
Covers yarns, books and supplies utilized by knitters.
Cross-stitch, embroidery, knitting, quilting, crochet, beading, lace making, and crochet, plus the stories and ethnic traditions behind the techniques.