Thursday, 5 January 2023

Machine made Chantilly lace?


This beautiful piece of Chantilly lace was probably made on a lace machine. It is often hard to distinguish handmade and machine made Chantilly but there are certain aspects that suggest it was machine made. First of all the feel of the lace when you pick it up, handmade lace usually feels softer than the machine type, which can feel quite hard. The two edges of the lace are also indicators of how it was made. In this case the picot edging on the scalloped side does seem to be made of threads that come out from the main lace work, rather than a separate addition, which suggests the piece is handmade but the straight footside on the other edge is a strip of machine-made lace indicating that the whole piece is machine made. The way the threads move from the ground net stitches into the cloth stitches of the pattern suggest it is handmade. However, the way the circles in the lace have been outlined in a continuous gimp thread running from one to another indicates that it is machine made. In handmade lace these circles would have been worked separately and the ends of the gimp secured in the lace rather than being trimmed off afterwards, which appears to be the case here. As you can see it can be difficult to make a decision but, on balance, this piece seems to be machine made. However when it was worn it would have been almost impossible to distinguish how it was made without examining it carefully. The skill of the machine lacemakers in making lace that is difficult to distinguish from handmade lace was the main reason for the demise of the handmade bobbin lace trade in the late nineteenth century.

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