These lovely lace designs come from a catalogue produced by the Christian Stoll company of Plauen from the late nineteenth century. These laces would have been made using a Schiffli embroidery machine. This machine could embroider on to a machine net background to imitate handmade lace or could produce guipure lace by embroidering onto a ground fabric that was later destroyed to leave only the lace behind.
At the end of the nineteenth century there were several methods for disposing of the backing fabric including treating the ground fabric with dilute acid before embroidering it then putting it in a hot room where the ground threads deteriorated. Alternatively the thread could be treated with an alkali such as ammonia then the embroidered fabric could be place in an acid bath to remove the ground. A cellulose base could also be used which could be removed by heating or acid treatment after embroidering. The number of patents relating to the disposal of background fabrics at the end of the nineteenth century shows how keen inventors were to find the ideal method. If these guipure techniques were used, the designer had to ensure that all parts of the lace were attached to other areas or include bars of thread joining the separate elements of the design so the lace remained in one piece once the background had been removed, alternatively the lace could be applied to a net background to keep the elements of the pattern in place. The Schiffli lace machine was invented in the 1860s in Switzerland and ‘Swiss’ lace became very popular throughout Europe at the end of the century for curtains and clothing.