Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Making lace....

How it was made by machine a long, long time ago:

It is difficult for us to imagine the value that our ancestors placed on handmade lace. Always highly prized for its extraordinary beauty and intricate patterns, lace was considered quite a dear commodity until lace-making machines largely destroyed the market for handmade lace. Ancient Egyptian art depicts lace hairnets at about 2,000 B.C . Ancient Babylonian and Assyrian costumes include knotted ornamental braiding and knotting. Lacy fabrics were used nearly 2,000 years ago. By the Middle Ages, ecclesiastical clothing and textiles included lace, as well as exquisite and expensive clothing from the fifteenth century until the early nineteenth century. Particularly complicated and expensive, clothing laces were made by hand in the 1600s and 1700s. Laces made from fine Flemish linen were most highly prized and fortunes were spent on the acquisition of exquisite clothing laces. Sumptuary Laws, which restricted the wearing of gold, silver, jewels, an silk, boosted the popularity of lace, which was often made of plain white linen thread.

By the early nineteenth century, the British were successfully producing machine-made laces with the production of a knitted net. As the machine-made laces became more common, the hand lace-maker could not compete with the low prices of the new laces and the craft waned in popularity. Astonishingly, some old machine made lace imitated the handmade laces to a remarkable degree and sometimes can only be distinguished from the handmade lace by its relentless regularity of pattern (handmade laces incorporate human flaws).

This machine net could then be embroidered or appliqued by hand. By 1870, several other machine-made lace machines were in production, supplying Americans as well as Europeans with relatively inexpensive lace, including lace curtains. Nottingham lace curtains, with their characteristic square mesh ground, were imported into the United States by at least 1870. By the 1880s, it was affordable and considered a mark of good taste to purchase curtains for the Victorian parlor. By the early 1900s, lace curtains had peaked in popularity and fell from favor—they were a commodity that many had tired of and were associated with those of lesser means who wanted to appear ostentatious.
Today, lace curtains are popular once again. Still prized for their airy beauty, lace curtains permit light to filter through the window, while still providing privacy. Some lace curtain companies offer patterns that have been in machine production for 140 years.


Wish I could have had my Grandmother's Irish lace curtains. My Mom had them and they were washed, starched  and hung on curtain stretcher to dry.

Us older gals remember seeing these set up in the back yard::

 We were always told to say away from them because of the hundreds of 
sharp tacks that held the curtains on!



  1. I remember the lace stretchers, and those pesky tacks that held the lace in place. Lots of memories there. Spring cleaning saw many of them drying in back yards, much use of starch and careful propping to allow them to breeze dry.
    On the same subject Belgian nuns were famous for Tatting lace of amazing beauty.

    The other old timey gadget was pants stretchers.

    1. My Mom could tat - she tried to teach me, but..... :o)
      I remember those pants stretchers, too! They were adjustable wire contraptions!

  2. Remember dip-starching clothes with that liquid blue goo? I could never figure out why Mom hung the clothes on the line; when they were dry bring them in; then cook up the starch mixture; get the clothes wet again with the starch mixture; put them in a plastic bag and store them in the fridge until she got them all dry again with the iron. Why not go straight to the sprinkling with the starch mixture and cut out several steps?

    1. I still use the "blue goo"! Only I dilute with water and put it in a spray bottle. I have my Mom's sprinkler top that she used with a glass ketchup bottle! Still use starch on my sheets and pillow cases. Hubby thinks I'm nuts, but there is nothing like freshly, starched linen! :o)

  3. The lace is stunning. Chickenmom, when I grow up....I wanna be just like YOU! ; P

    1. Awww, that so sweet, Lisa. But YOU are like the one I should have been!
      Love Victorian things. I was born in the wrong era! :o)

  4. Oh gosh, I remember starching and sprinkling clothes with a pop bottle that had a sprinkler top. Been a few years since I used one of those.
    Not so long ago that I used the pants stretchers for the guys wranglers, sprayed starch on the creases.
    Nothing smells as good as sun dried sheets. I had a friend that starched and ironed all her bed linens. But then she had a persnickety husband. He always safety pinned his shirt tail to his shorts so his shirt tail wouldn't come out while he was riding of working...

    1. Hubby doesn't care about starched and ironed bed linens, but I do. Just cannot sleep on wrinkled sheets and pillow cases. My Mom used pin our shirts, too. Had forgotten about that! :o)