Two Structural Classes of Bobbin Lace
  Distinctions of Style

  © Lorelei Halley 2009 


  Site map   
  Bobbin Lace History Overview   
  Lace Terminology   

  Straight Laces/Part Laces  

  Straight Laces            
  Mesh Grounded Straight Laces       
     Simple Mesh Grounded straight laces
          Torchon and Point Ground Laces 
  Complex Mesh Grounded Straight Laces 
     (continental straight laces)

 Guipure Straight Laces   
     (braid or plait based laces) 
     Continental guipure
     Le Puy

  Part Laces
  Tape Laces (braid laces)   
  Part Laces with Discrete Units  
     Bruges Bloomwork
     Duchesse and Honiton


        LePompe bobbin lace     The earliest definite documentation for the existence of bobbin lace is the pattern book published by LePompe in 1559.  There are also inventories of the late 1400s which mention "bone lace".  This may refer to bobbin lace, but we don't know for certain what these "bone laces" looked like.  Bobbin lace is actually a form of weaving in which only the tops of the warp threads are anchored to something, but are only weighted on the bottom.  This allows them to move in relation to each other and creates the possibility of a huge variety of different weaves and densities, a far greater variety than is possible with any other form of weaving.  It is worked on a pillow (actually a very large and hard packed pincushion) as a base, with bobbins which store the thread and weight it, and with pins to guide the threads along their proper paths.
    Many lace historians now believe that bobbin lace developed out of passamenterie, a fancy narrow braid which was intended to be appliqued onto the velvet garments of the day.  Passamenterie was often made of silver or gold, and some were made of colored silks.  Many of the patterns in LePompe are of designs that would work as passamenterie.

Bobbinlace has roughly one to two dozen distinct regional/period styles which are different in working methods and technique as well as different in shapes and kinds of designs.  A bobbin lace maker who knows one working method won't necessarily be able to make other kinds unless she has specifically studied those other kinds.  When a bobbin lace maker refers to a style, such as Flanders or Duchesse, we are referring to the collection of working methods and structures which are typical of that style.

But a museum curator is thinking of something different.  Museums are interested in "provenance", which means the geographical origin, artistic and stylistic traditions which contributed to it, and date. Museums often identify their collections by the city or geographical region of origin, and any one city may have seen stylistic and technical differences  and changes in its laces over a long period of time.  A classic example of this is Valenciennes bobbin lace.  When you say "Valenciennes" to a lace maker she will understand this as a straight lace/continuous lace using a mesh ground with 4 threads in each leg of the ground, and 2 pairs entering the clothwork at each pin.  But the town also produced a part lace (relatively uncommon) which was similar to straight lace Valenciennes in style but completely different in structure and working methods.  Museums call them both "Valenciennes", but to a lacemaker they are completely distinct. I can recall a conversation in the early 1980s with a textile curator at the Art Institute of Chicago about this particular lace.  We went round in circles and true communication never happened.  Only years later did I realize why we weren't communicating.   When a lacemaker refers to "Flanders Lace"  she may not be thinking of the same thing as a museum curator who only thinks of point of origin and date, not structure.  When a lacemaker refers to a lace as "Flanders" or "Valenciennes" she is thinking of structure and working methods typical of that type, regardless of whether it was actually made in Flanders or Valenciennes, or in London, Vancouver or Chicago.  I was using "Valenciennes" to refer to a collection of working methods and structure. The curator was thinking of point of origin, of any laces made in the town of Valenciennes.

At first glance one might think that the ground determines the regional/period style.  But this is not the case.   In actual fact, how the cloth parts are woven is the important factor, specifically the paths taken by threads entering and leaving the clothwork.  There is more about this below and in the historical sections.  So, a museum curator and a lacemaker may use the same word, but they mean something different by it.

Part Lace -- Straight Lace                *

The most important distinction is between two broad classes of structure.  One, called straight lace or continuous lace, starts with a lot of bobbins and makes the whole lace, ground and motifs, with these same bobbins.  So what the lacemaker has to know is how to take threads out of the design motifs and move them into the ground, and then move them back again.   Different regional/period styles do this differently.   (See Lace Terminology for an explanation of these terms.)  Complex laces of this kind may therefore use a lot of bobbins, sometimes hundreds.  Some have a mesh ground where all the lines of the ground are made by two threads.  Some, called guipure laces, have grounds made of thicker bars, usually made of four or more threads.  In this latter type the spaces between the lines in the ground will be larger than one would find in a mesh ground.  In a straight lace it should be possible to follow each thread along its path from the ground into the motifs and out again (providing you have sufficient magnification and light.)

The second broad structural class is called part lace, free lace (meaning freeform lace), or sectional lace.  The most significant difference from straight laces is that laces of this group are held together by "sewings", hooked attachments made with a crochet hook or similar tool, rather than by special ways of moving threads into and out of the clothwork.  This group may have a narrow tape meandering through the design, or may have several discrete motifs which widen and narrow, requiring new threads to be hung in and later removed.  These discrete motifs or the meandering tape are attached to other completed parts of the lace by using a crochet hook or similar tool.  So the student needs to learn  how to start and end motifs of different shapes (pointy ends, round ends, flat ends),  how to make the tape curve, how to add and remove threads from the discrete motifs as they change shape, and the various ways of making the hooked attachments and joinings which hold everything together.  To identify an antique part lace made of discrete units, look for knotty lumps in several places on the wrong side.  These lumps will be the endings of individual motifs.  Look here for diagrams of various sewings.




 Straight or Continuous laces  


 Torchon laces and point ground. One pair enters clothwork at each pin. Simple clothwork weave.  Straight laces.


torchon   torchon  torchon  torchon   point-ground   pointground   
   point ground

Two pairs enter at each pin. Complex clothwork weave. See below for more detail.  Straight laces.

 Flanders  Flanders  Flanders.  Valenciennes Valenciennes   Valenciennes.  


Braid/plait based continuous laces.


 Cluny Cluny    Bedfordshire  Bedfordshire      continental-guipure Continental Guipure.  LePuy  LePuy

 Part laces, Sectional Laces, or Free laces (freeform laces)

 Tape Laces (braid laces) The design is formed by a meandering tape, woven on the pillow, which is hooked to itself as it is made.I think of tape laces as those where the tape is made with a constant number of bobbins. Extra bobbins would only be needed if the design has a large areas of fancy fillings.
Tape laces - part lace

 Held together with hooked sewings made with a crochet hook or similar tool.   Tape laces are made with a constant number of bobbins, except where a large area must be filled with fancy fillings.

 Part Laces. Each leaf and flower are made with a new batch of bobbins, but the bits are hooked together while being made. It involves constantly hanging in new bobbins when a bit widens, and cutting some out as it narrows. If you look on the wrong side you will see little lumps where each part was ended. These are the ending knots.

  Honiton - part lace. See the knotty lumps, where threads were cut off at the end of a motif, in the colored circles.


Yellow rings show some places where sewings were done.


Some laces may have similar design elements, but have markedly different structure.  The laces below all have a meandering tape or cloth trail, which is the dominant part of the design.  But all are woven differently.  Cluny and Bedfordshire are straight laces.  But tape/braid laces are part laces.
 Cluny (straight) 139     Cluny

206 LePuy
Bedfordshire (straight) 417

Bedfordshire lace
 700  Bedfordshire 
  tape lace (part lace) lace434    
 Tape laces
  Straight laces:
 Both have a cloth trail, but threads enter and leave the trail from the braided ground. And weave through the cloth trail differently in Beds and Cluny (mostly).
  Tape laces/braid laces. Part laces.
    This has a meandering tape, but the working methods and techniques used are quite different from the Cluny and Bedfordshire above.  The yellow ovals surround some of the hooked attachments, called sewings.  A crochet hook or similar tool is used for this.  This way of holding the lace together is used in all forms of part lace (freeform lace).  

Here is a summary chart. Bobbin lace styles by structural group.                                                           *


Straight Laces:                                                                         *

 Torchon, point ground laces, Flanders, Paris lace, Binche, Valenciennes, Cluny, Bedfordshire, and Genoese are all examples of straight laces.  Some of these have the lines of the ground made of 2 threads twisted together, and some have thicker bars made of 4 or more threads plaited/braided together. 


Mesh grounded straight/continuous laces

Mesh grounded straight laces with a simple cloth weave.
They -- torchon and point ground laces -- have only one pair entering the motifs or clothwork at each pin.  

torchon LH torchon bobbin lace
Tonder point ground lace Bucks point ground lace Bucks point lace LH Chantilly-a point ground lace 
Torchon Torchon Vadstena point ground (I think) Bucks point
Point ground lace
Point ground Lace-Bucks point Chantilly
Point ground lace

 Torchon and point ground laces     have a lot in common.  Both have only one pair entering and leaving at each pin.  Occasionally there may be 2 in point ground laces (especially in floral designs).  There may be gimp (a thicker thread) outlining the motifs to make them stand out.  In pure torchon the designs are always geometric.   geometric torchon

But among Spanish lace makers, particularly, laces with torchon grounds and floral motifs do occur, and some modern ones have been designed.  These might be called "floral torchon".  floral torchon

Point ground laces include Bucks point, Tonder, Bayeux, Lille, Ret-fi, Chantilly, Blonde, and polychrome de Courseilles.   point ground laces

In point ground laces the so-called "point ground" is nearly universal.  Each ground pin is worked CTTT with a pin under the stitch. The diamond grid for the ground is drawn out at a flattened angle. Instead of the 45 degree angle (relative to the footside) of torchon, point ground uses 55 degrees to 72 degrees. The connection between the ground and footside (called a "catch pin") is worked a little differently than in torchon.  Sometimes a ground that looks like Paris ground is used, but English lace makers call it "kat stitch" when it occurs in point ground laces.  There are other varieties of point ground which use a thicker thread as the weaver in motifs (called "blonde" because cream colored silk was most often used). This possibility of adding an entirely different thread to work the motifs made possible adding different colors.  So there is also a kind called polychrome which adds flower colors to work petals, and greens to work leaves.  These colored threads are not a permanent part of the lace, but are hung in and cut out as needed.  And the lace called Chantilly usually has the motifs worked in half stitch, and the lace was usually, but not always, worked in black silk.  Chantilly also has some oddities about how the half stitch motifs are started. (But this odd start may not be discernible to the inexperienced.)  Because of the floral designs used in most point ground laces it is often necessary to fudge artfully to give the best curves and grace to the motifs.  Pure torchon never needs additional temporary pairs added, but floral point ground may.  And in Chantilly temporary extra pairs are fairly common and are carried along with the gimp (usually).  Point ground laces were made in virtually every country that had a lace making tradition during the 19th century. Point ground laces are primarily 19th century laces.

Mechlin is in a class by itself.   It is usually classed with "continental straight laces". 

Wide straight laces may require large numbers of bobbins on the pillow at the same time, but narrow ones are easier to manage.  

R2 This is a simple torchon edging, using relatively few bobbins.  Torchon bobbin laces, both from my TORCHON BOBBIN LACE LESSONS.  Follow the colors of the ground threads.  You can see them entering as the cloth stitch motif widens, and leaving as it narrows.  In any straight lace you can see the threads moving from foot, through the ground, into the clothwork, out of the cloth and into the ground, perpetually.  Follow the colors and you will see where every pair came from and where it goes.


   LH Bucks point bobbin lace, with point ground.  Here also, you can follow the threads from the ground into the clothwork. LH Bucks point worked on an enlarged scale.  It is easy to follow the threads from the foot, through the ground, and into the cloth.    

A Bucks point bobbin lace from Geraldine Stott's workshop.  You can clearly follow the threads from the ground into the clothwork.      

A torchon straight lace, of my design.    I made it in 5 strips, 3 wide, 2 narrow.
This photo shows one of the wide strips in process.
Large straight lace designs were often made in strips because of the difficulty in managing hundreds of bobbins. The same from the front.  The strip is about 5 inches wide, but needs a very large number of bobbins.  
The central motif appears half finished in the 2nd photo. 
This torchon piece of my design has the solid border worked first and then filled it with the ground and the tree.      


Continental Straight Laces  --  Complex clothwork weave                                    *
Flanders, Paris, Valenciennes and Binche lace have 2 pairs entering the clothwork motifs at each pin.  This results in a more complex weave in the cloth stitch motifs, compared to torchon or point ground laces.  These are also mesh grounded laces.
old Flanders bobbin lace - 18th c Flanders bobbin lace - new revival LH Valenciennes bobbin lace - revival era Valenciennes - revival era Paris bobbin lace - revival era
Mechlin/Flanders mid 18th century, Flanders ground
old-modern Flanders, old Mechlin
Modern Flanders, pattern by Mary Niven, Flanders ground Valenciennes late 19th c., square Val ground     Revival and modern Valenciennes Valenciennes late 19th-early 20th c., square Val ground
Revival era
Paris lace, early 20th c.  Revival Era Paris
Binche bobbin lace - early 18th c Binche - detail Binche bobbin lace - revival era Binche - revival era - detail Binche bobbin lace - new revival era LH
Binche/Valenciennes, c. 1730s 01740s, snowball ground Binche/Valenciennes c. 1730s-1740s, snowball ground Binche (point de fee) late 19th-early 20th ce. Revival era snowflake ground with little bits of Flanders ground Modern Binche, snowflake ground. Verbeke-Billiet

Flanders Bobbin Lace    * Modern Flanders uses the Flanders ground (there are several variants).  It has a ring pair surrounding the motifs.  This is a pair that follows the contour of the motif with a small gap between itself and the gimp.  Two pairs enter or leave at each pin.  This necessitates a more complex weave than what occurs in torchon.  Most Flanders has gimp.  Really old Flanders from the 18th century may use other grounds: Paris, Valenciennes, various snowflakes and snowballs.

ring pair

Flanders cloth stitch  
Blue rings show 2 pairs entering at each pin.  Yellow rings show 2 pairs departing at the pin.
 In the 2nd repeat the blue lines point to the ring pair.  The green circle identifies the gimp.
 The colored lines show some of the thread paths.  In the 2nd photo the light blue line is the ring pair.  Flanders, worked on a greatly enlarged scale.  In Flanders 2 pairs enter at each pin.  There is a ring pair surrounding the dense motif, and travels outside the pins.  There is usually a gimp inside the pins, surrounding and smoothing out the contour of the cloth spot.   

Flanders bobbin lace in process
Flanders lace    
  L386 These are both Flanders,  unusually narrow laces of this type.  The working set-up is the same as for torchon.

  The Ape, a traditional pattern which uses most of the techniques of Flanders lace.    Flanders bobbin lace  green leaving, orange entering.    

Valenciennes Bobbin Lace   * Valenciennes has a ground made of 2 pairs so it is thicker and stronger than the more common laces.  It does not use gimp.  Two pairs enter the motif at each pin, and 2 pairs leave at each pin. It has a ring pair outlining the motifs (as in Flanders).  But because it does not have gimp (which helps gives the motifs a rounded appearance in Flanders) it has a "lace pair".  This pair is inside the motif and surrounds it, smoothing out the angles where pairs enter.  It causes further complications in the weave of the cloth parts.  To get a good looking density of the ground the motifs end up being very thin.  This requires extra threads to be added to the cloth motifs.  Typically these are just hung at the top of the lace and moved into position at the start of the motif, then moved out of the way (without being cut off) at the bottom of the motif.  If you look at the wrong side of the lace you can often see little tails sticking out at the top and bottom of each motif.  The 2nd photo in the row below shows these "floaters".  The 3rd photo identifies the ring pair and the lace pair.
right side  wrong side

Valenciennes bobbin lace
  You can see floater threads left uncut (yellow ring).  These are added and removed for each spot to make it dense enough. 

The pink lines point to the ring pair.  The blue lines point to the lace pair.
  I put in red dots to show where the pins were.  You can see that 2 pairs enter at every pin.   Valenciennes bobbin lace:  Orange rings - 2 pairs departing.  Green rings - 2 pairs entering.  Although the lines in the ground have 4 threads in Valenciennes, it is still considered mesh lace because of other structural factors.   The red dots show where the pins were.  Two pairs entered at every pin.
Valenciennes motif     In Val 2 pairs enter the clothwork at every pin.  There is a ring pair which travels outside the pins.  There is a lace pair which travels just inside the pins and functions to smooth out the outlines of the motif.  There is no gimp.  In order to keep the ground relatively open, the result is that the motifs are very thin.  To make them a good density temporary pairs are added at the top of the motif, and removed at its bottom.  These threads are not usually cut off, but simply moved aside.  See the 2nd photo above left, for these floater threads.    

Paris Bobbin Lace
  *   Paris lace uses the Paris ground.  The motifs are usually in cloth stitch and have a distinct weave which is very unusual.  I don't yet have an example.  There is usually gimp.  There is a ring pair around the motifs in some areas, but tends to disappear in others.  The ground is usually worked without pins.
LH Paris lace.  White ring - 2 pairs entering.  Pink ring - 2 pairs leaving.  Modern student lace Paris bobbin lace Paris bobbin lace, revival era  

Binche Bobbin Lace  *   Binche uses all the features of the above laces, except gimp.  There is no gimp in Binche. Two pairs enter and leave at each pin of the motif.  There is a ring pair.  There is usually a lace pair which helps round the motifs and give them a smooth curved outline.  Any of the complex grounds may be used: Flanders, Paris, snowflake, snowball, Valenciennes. 
Binche  Early 18th century Binche bobbin lace.  Pink lines point to ring pair, green lines to lace pair.  132
Modern Binche student lace
 The clothwork in Binche is woven in the same way as for Valenciennes. But because the ground is mostly snowballs instead of 4 strand braids there are usually enough thread to work the motifs. Therefore there is usually no need to temporarily add additional threads, although this may occur occasionally. It is not the constant feature that it is for Val.  

Mechlin Bobbin Lace
  *  Mechlin is very unusual and is in a class by itself.  In modern and revival era Mechlin the ground is relatively simple: CTCTCTCT. This ground came into use in the very late 18th century (Napoleonic era) and throughout the 19th.  But the laces may have one or two pairs entering the cloth stitch motifs at each pin. There is usually gimp surrounding the motifs.   There may or may not be a ring pair.  The motifs may be woven as in Paris lace or as in Flanders lace. But in Mechlin laces from the mid 18th century any ground could be used: snowball ground in half stitch (called 12 thread armure in old history books), Flanders or Paris ground.  I really hope that someone with access to lots of Napoleonic era and earlier 18th century Mechlin would examine those really old laces and diagram exactly how the old ones were made.  Rita Thienpondt's very good syllabus on Mechlin is based, I think, primarily on revival era Mechlin.  I am not sure that the earlier Mechlin was made the same way.  If someone can prove me wrong or right--either way--, with diagrams and photographs, I will be happy.
old Mechlin bobbin lace - 18th c Mechlin bobbin lace - revival era   Revival Era and modern Mechlin    
Mechlin c.1730-1750 Mechlin c. 1890-1920      



Here are some of the mesh grounds used in these mesh grounded laces.           Bobbin Lace Grounds                                   *


torchon ground
torchon ground
torchon grounds   torchon ground variants
Left: torchon, Dieppe, twisted hole (also called Spanish ground or ring net ground) and Brussels ground

 torchon honeycomb ground

 rose ground - virgin ground
another variant of rose ground

Top- modern Flanders
Middle-5 hole
Bottom-cloth stitch

 Valenciennes ground square Valenciennes ground - square     534
 Valenciennes ground-square
 Paris ground      532
 Paris ground, called Kat stitch when used in Bucks point.
point ground & honeycomb ground
 point ground above, honeycomb below

  point ground
 point ground
point ground
 honeycomb ground
 honeycomb ground
Binche snowflakes 741
 Binche Snowflake ground
Binche snowflakes in a ring  512
 Snowflake in a ring
Binche snowflakes in a frame
 Snowflake in a frame
 Little snowflake, 5 variations



Guipure or braid based (plait based) straight laces.   *    
In guipure laces (braided/plaited)  the ground is made of thicker bars made of 4 or more threads.   
braided lace from the LePompe patternbook printed 1559braided laces from the LePompe pattern book of 1559 LH braided bobbin lace similar to Genoese lace LePuy guipure bobbin lace Cluny bobbin lace Maltese bobbin lace Bedfordshire bobbin lace
Patterns from LePompe 1559,mb/LH   LePuy guipure  * Cluny Maltese                     * Bedfordshire

Cluny Bobbin Lace

Cluny bobbin lace

A simple Cluny bobbin lace made entirely of braids.  Each line of the lace requires 4 threads.  From the DMC Encyclopedia.  I designed the corner.    an Italian Cluny type design LH                  Cluny type, an Italian design.
Cluny bobbin lace in process Cluny bobbin lace, from Annelie van Olffen.  You can see that some bobbins are making the two footsides, and some are making braids.  You can see all the loose threads across the top, where the bobbins were hung in. Cluny bobbin lace LH  

 Both Continental guipure    *  Cluny, continental guipure, LePuy   

Bedfordshire Bobbin Lace
Bedfordshire bobbin lace, much enlarged scale, from Pam Nottingham.   You can see that some bobbins are coming from the cloth trail, some from the little leaf shape, some from the footside and some from the braids.

There are distinctions of technique between Cluny and Bedfordshire laces.
 *   In general terms the way pairs of threads enter and leave the meandering cloth stitch trails differ.  (Jean Leader, a modern Bedfordshire expert, tells me that the old museum laces often show both the Beds and Cluny working methods in the same piece.  So the distinction must be taken as "general practice" not a universal rule.)  Cluny designs are generally geometric, but Bedfordshire designs have flowing lines more organic in character. Both may have a cloth stitch trail, but the trail is a much more important part of Beds designs.  LePuy guipures have the trail as a prominent part of the design. There are many floral and naturalistic Beds designs.  There are also floral designs based on Cluny techniques, and these are called "continental guipure".  Continental guipure were made in Denmark, France, Spain and Germany.

Bedfordshire LH

A simple Bedfordshire learning pattern from Margaret Hamer.  The orange ovals show 4 threads from the braid entering the cloth trail as passive threads (vertical threads) and staying on the near edge of that trail.  The green circles show those same threads departing the trail lower down and making a braid. Bedfordshire, enlarged scale, from Margaret Hamer.  See if you can tell where each pair came from and where it went.  This is a learning sample; I didn't worry about the colors.      


   This is a Cluny lace.    Cluny  LH
  LH  Cluny
The circled area shows threads moving from the braids on the left of the trail and moving into the cloth trail, becoming weaver threads.  In some cases those threads depart the trail immediately on the right side and make the headside braid.  In some cases those threads stay in the trail as weaver threads. The blue lines are the weaver leaving the trail and entering the braid on the right.  The orange line are threads which left the braid on the left, briefly became trail weavers, and immediately exited into a braid on the right.  The green line shows a braid pair which entered the trail and stayed in it as weaver.   Green shows how the weaver plus one pair from the braid make the new braid on the right.

Blue shows how the other pair from the braid becomes the new weaver.


Part Laces (Sectional Lace):                                              *

Part laces can be made in sections, with each leaf or flower completed as a separate unit.  Or it can be made as a snaky tape, which meanders all over the design.  The chief thing that distinguishes these laces from straight laces is that they are held together by sewings.  The lace maker uses a crochet hook or similar tool to hook the weaver into existing loops from completed sections of the work.  This allows complete freedom to make any shape.

sewings    sewings  Click to view large size.  Yellow rings show where the sewings are.  Look here for diagrams and explanation of how sewings are made..

Tape Laces
These are all made as a continuous tape, which contains a constant number of bobbins.  No extra threads are needed if the tape widens.  The lacemakers just changes to a different stitch                           tape/braid laces           Milanese tape lace

Czech tape lace tape lace, probably Idrija

Idrija tape lace
  Russian tape lace early Flemish tape lace
Czech tape lace Idrija tape lace   Russian tape lace Possibly early Flemish tape lace
17th century
tape lace LH LH      
These are tape lace motifs extracted from a large design by DMC, Die Kloeppelspitzen..  The design is a single tape which uses a constant number of bobbins, but narrows and widens by changing the stitch used. Every time the color changes, I changed to a different stitch: in the bottom one to half stitch, in the top one I added twists between the cloth stitches.      
Russian tape lace Bobbin tape lace    LH  Design from DMC. bobbin tape lace   LH

Pattern from DMC.
bobbin tape lace in process
 This row is all tape lace.  Tape laces usually don't require a lot of bobbins.
Lace 434 from DMC.  I added the picots on the edge; the original design had a "sewing edge".
This shows lace 434 soon after starting.  Compare the number of bobbins to the Cluny lace above on the blue pricking.  The edging was made in 3 strips: a plain one on the inside, and a plain one on the outside, with the snaky one in the middle. Here I have nearly finished the primary tape.  When the gap between the two sections of green lace is closed, that tape will be finished.  I never had more than 10 bobbins on the pillow at once. Lace 211 From DMC.   I started in the middle of one side, and am working the corner.

Part Laces/Sectional Laces
          (Sometimes called "free laces", meaning freeform laces.)                            *
The primary distinction between "tape laces" and "part laces" is that, in part laces the motifs widen and narrow as they need to for realism.  The lace maker adds bobbins as the motif widens, and removes some as it narrows.  Also the design is usually not continuous, as is the tape of tape laces.  Instead, the design is made of discrete units: flowers, leaves, scrolls, tapes or ribbons.  Each unit is hung on with the bobbins wound in pairs, and the threads are cut off at the end of the unit.  If you turn the lace over and look at the wrong side, you will see lots of little bumpy lumps at the unit ends, where the threads were knotted and cut off.

Brussels bobbin lace - 18th c Brussels bobbin lace - 18th c Duchesse bobbin lace Honiton bobbin lace Withof bobbin lace CH   Bruges bloomwork DS
Brussels c. 1730s
early Brussels
Brussels-point d'Angleterre
Duchesse last half 19th c. Honiton late 19th c. Withof 20th c. Bruges Bloomwork 20th c.
More examples.  Some individual discrete motifs used in bloomwork.
part lace LH      
This is the back of one of my own designs.  You can see the lumpy spots where I ended a section.  It is a part lace. This was made in 3 sections:  The central flower first, then each set of leaves on the left and right.      

This row below looks like tape lace, but there are actually discrete motifs.
Milanese tape lace - discrete motifs Milanese tape lace    
A lace of the Milanese type.  It looks like a normal Milanese tape lace, but it is actually made in sections.  This is a "discrete units" kind of tape lace. Each color distinguishes a separate motif made as a unit.  In terms of structure, this is  a part lace rather than a tape lace.  But it looks like a tape lace.  Many antique Milanese and Flemish tape laces that I saw at the Art Institute of Chicago were of this type. This is also a Milanese tape lace.  The flower and leaf shapes can only be made by adding a removing threads constantly.  So it also is a tape lace which uses techniques involving separate units.    

The row below have tape lace elements (a continuous tape around the outer perimeter), but they also have discrete motifs in the central area.
Idrija lace
 lace 190
Idrija tape lace Idrija lace
 lace 724
Idrija tape lace  
Idrija lace.  Many Idrija pieces include discrete motifs, like the leaves and flowers here.  But the out part is a purely typical Idrija tape lace.  This could be called a hybrid between tape and part lace.  Many modern laces have similar structure.   Also an Idrija lace, which combines tape lace and part lace structure.    

Bruges Bloomwork                                                       *

Bruges Bloomwork Motifs

These are some bloomwork motifs.

This piece has most of the possible bloomwork motifs.
Each bloomwork design takes leaves, flowers and scrolls from a small set of motifs. There are under a dozen different flowers, and a handful of leaf shapes. Each design takes a selection of these and just rearranges them. examples
There are only small differences between Duchesse and Honiton.  Duchesse often adds 2 pairs at an outside pin, and then weaves them into the motif using the method for Flanders/Binche.  Or it may add a pair in the middle of a leaf. Honiton usually adds pairs only at the edge, and hangs them on the weaver just before it passes over or under the pin.  Honiton loves lots of fancy fillings. Duchesse focuses more attention to details in the motifs.  The very best Honiton strives for great realism in the motifs. Both may have raised work, similarly done. There are also some motifs which occur in Honiton but not Duchesse, and these are the symbols Tudor rose, thistle, etc. Duchesse uses a certain doubled scroll motif that I haven't seen in Honiton.  Mostly the differences are stylistic -- the design itself, typical motifs, shapes of flowers and leaves.  But the differences are subtle, and sometimes in simpler pieces they are hard to distinguish.

Honiton hang on method
 Honiton hang on method

Duchesse hang on method
 Duchesse hang on method
 honitonrose Honiton rose tudor-rose Honiton rose Duchesse-leaf  This leaf is common in Duchesse. I am not sure it ever appears in Honiton.    The duchesse scroll. Scrolls occur in many part laces, but the 2nd tape--green--seems to be specifically duchesse. double-scroll
Honiton bobbin lace with raised work - macro scale LH    
Honiton bobbin lace with raised work, a leaf sampler.  The design is from Perryman and Voysey. Lace 597 The colored rings surround discrete sections which were made as units.   This is the reverse side, while the lace was still in process.  The long threads are the ending tails, left when their specific unit was finished and attached to the basic tape.  A few sections are still not started.  This shows the reverse side when completed.  The colored rings show the knotted lumps left when the long threads were cut off.  The green arrow points to the basic tape.  This was made first and all the sub-motifs were attached to it as they were completed.  
part lace LH Look at   this one  this2  this3   duchesse-parts sewings_in_part_laces

 Colors show the individual bits that were made separately with a new batch of bobbins hung in to start each segment.
Bobbin lace # NL2.  This is my own design, Neck Lace #2.  I used 70/2 linen. Work in process.  The central ring and scalloped ring are finished.  Here I am making the petals that lie around the scalloped ring. This piece shows what "part lace" means.  You can see certain segments or parts of the design completed.  The different colors for petals, leaves and strips clarify that they are separate. A modern Duchesse, designed by Sister Judith, mb/LH. Lace#173 showing the discrete units, held to each other by sewings. Some of the sewings in a part lace.

Rosaline, a very late 19th c outgrowth of Duchesse.

Characterized by winkiepin edge (pin after 2 threads) instead of the more common sewing edge (pin after 4 threads) which was used in both Honiton and Duchesse (and its precursors Brussels and Brabant).  It also commonly has little holes added to the clothwork flower petals. Needle made rings, called "pops" were ofter added on top of the flower centers after the bobbin work was completed.
Withof-edge-roll Withof Withof-edge-roll Withof-edge-roll                                                *
 Withof uses raised work differently, and outlines each motif and motif segment with a rolled bundle of threads. Motifs themselves are predominantly worked in cloth stitch. Half stitch occurs sparingly.  


Another part lace piece in process:

Several simple part lace motifs in process, showing the work in stages.

Here is another series of photos showing how part lace can be made on a simple drawing, from Bistra Pisancheva:                                                    

Summary                                                                                                 *

     Straight Lace (Continuous Lace)  

         Mesh Grounded 

One pair enters at each pin  Simple clothwork.


Point ground laces (Bucks, Tonder, Bayeux, Chantilly, Blonde) 

Two pairs enter at each pin   Complex clothwork  






Guipure (Braid/plait based) laces 

Genoese (antique 16th century laces)



LePuy guipure  (Spanish guipures are similar, but some have both guipure and mesh grounds in the same lace.)


     Part/Sectional Laces 

Tape laces 





Milanese tape  (some)

Flemish tape  (some)

Discrete units 

Some Milanese and Flemish tape are actually this type, but look like tape laces c. 1650- 1850

Some Idrija laces contain discrete units as well as tapes

Cantu has tape-like designs but the flower heads and some movements have part lace elements

Bruges Bloomwork early - mid 20th c.

Flemish (early Brussels) c. 1650-1710

Brussels c. 1710-1850

Brabant 1700s

Honiton 19th-20th c

Duchesse c 1850 - 1920

Rosaline early 20th c.

Withof late 20th c.



    Abbreviations     Compare     Lace Terminology

   bobbin lace     Learning Bobbin Lace    Bobbin Lace History Overview    

    1559-1700        Pottenkant/Milanese        18th century        Napoleonic era

    19th century straight bar lace           19th century straight mesh lace          19th century part lace 

    Revival Era Part Lace        Revival Era Straight Lace        New Revival Era Laces    

Contact me at                  Revised February 11, 2011               Last edited:   01/19/20