Wednesday, 14 September 2022

Lace connections

Connect is the prompt for today’s textile challenge so I thought I’d write about a couple of ways in which lace is connected both to other lace and fabric. The aim of most traditional lacemakers is to attach lace to a fabric with the tiniest stitches and in the neatest way possible, in fact books have been written on the subject of attaching lace as invisibly as possible. This blog is going to look at two alternative ways of connecting lace. The first is the illustrated above in a detail from my series The marriage bond looking at the work of Amy Atkin, the first female Nottingham machine lace designer, who had to give up work on marriage. I have deliberately made the connection between the lace and the fabric as obvious as possible by using tacking stitches in red thread to highlight the fact that the lace is not secure. In the same way that Amy’s career, and that of many other women at the time, could be ripped away in an instant.

The other connection also links to women in the machine lace trade as it shows how ribbon laces were made on the machines in one piece all joined together. A close look at the image will reveal the thin draw thread running between the lines of lace which had to be pulled out to separate them. This work was usually done by women at home as piece work. They were not well paid but as the draw thread was waste, and could not be used by the manufacturers, at least the women could keep it and use it themselves. This reflects the use of the red thread in The marriage bond which could also be drawn out in one swift movement and reused.  

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