Wednesday 24 January 2024

Filet lace dress decoration


Filet lace was popular for dress decoration at the beginning of the twentieth century, as these images show, and many were made by the home dressmaker. A special issue of the magazine Needlecraft, dedicated to filet lace, notes that stock collars (high neck collars as shown in these illustrations) ‘give an air of distinction to the simplest dress’. The magazine gives detailed instructions for making these collars, including the types of thread required, how to make the foundation net, and a variety of patterns, from the simple to the intricate.

As well as stock collars, both of the blouses shown here also have a filet trim running from the neck to the waist. One is based on an antique border pattern and the other is composed of square animal motifs. The magazine suggests that longer matching lengths of filet lace could also be made to trim a ‘dainty skirt’. It estimates that about 3 or 4 yards of lace would be required and should be placed 8 inches above the hem. If that doesn’t sound enough work, it also suggests that tucks above and below the lace would form a neat frame for the lace and that the material behind the lace should be cut away so the filet lace ‘shows transparent’. It does not suggest this cutting away of fabric for the lace on the blouse – in fact it explains that the animal motifs are worked in white thread and backed by pale pink material. It also advises that the animal motifs are separated by floral or geometric patterns because ‘too many quaint animal patterns together have a tendency towards the comic, which is most undesirable’.  

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