Compare Laces
   Lace Identification

  © Lorelei Halley 2009

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 compare pulled thread/drawn thread       compare filet crochet/filet lacis     compare bobbin/chemical    compare Irish crochet/chemical

Compare Needle and Bobbin Lace:

center bottom-bobbin,
left bottom-needle

  All aove are guipure or bar grounded laces.  Needle laces have bars made of buttonhole stitches.  Bobbin made guipure laces have bars made of braids:  usually 4 thread braid (2 pairs), but Honiton may use more pairs.  In the 2nd photo, you can clearly see the braids in the top piece and the buttonholed bars in the bottom piece.  Also study the differences between the thick thread (gimp) outlining the cloth flower petals in the top piece and the thick cordonnet covered with buttonhole stitch below.   In the 3rd photo,  study the different buttonhole stitches used in the bottom piece to create density and textural differences; and compare this to cloth stitch and half stitch sections in the top bobbinlace piece, which serve the same purpose.  .  Find the bobbin made cloth stitch areas (which look live woven cloth) and compare to the dense areas of the bottom piece.  Compare the braids.  The photo at right also shows: bobbin lace left, needle lace right.  Compare the bars; the buttonhole stitches and braids are easy to see.

Compare Bobbin and machine made lace:

Left-machine, right-bobbin Left-machine, right-bobbin

One way to distinguish is to look closely at the tallies.  The machine made tallies (left) show 5 vertical threads or ridges in each "tally".  The bobbin lace right has tallies with 3 vertical ridges.  This is normal in handmade bobbin lace.  In the 15th century some bobbin laces were made with more than 2 pairs, but these really old laces almost never appear in private collections, and you are not likely to see them.

             half stitch with vertical threads
Machine made left
Handmade right
Handmade half stitch has vertical lines when used as a crossing for 6 pairs, as here. Left-machine, right-bobbin

Left is machine made. Second is hand made bobbin.  Look for the horizontal straight lines and the diagonal lines in the half stitch (for hand made bobbin lace).  Right photo has machine made left, handmade bobbin lace right.  I've oriented these in the normal working direction so you can see the thread paths.  In the left piece there is a large diamond shaped motif in the center, which is supposed to represent half stitch.  It has straight vertical lines, as well as diagonal lines.  But handmade bobbin lace half stitch has horizontal straight lines, with diagonal lines (except for some rare situations, such as where 3 or 4.braids or tallies cross through each other). Compare this with the half stitch trails in the handmade 2nd piece.    In the right photo study the tallies.  In the right hand made bobbin lace the tallies have 3 clear vertical ridges (the 3 passive threads lie inside those ridges.  But in the left lace in that photo, the tallies have more than 3 fuzzy vertical ridges.  Also compare the braids on the headside edge.  In the machined lace the edge is lumpy, in the handmade piece it is perfectly smooth.

Machine made lace. Valenciennes bobbin lace, hand made. Valenciennes bobbinlace, hand made

Far left is machine made Valenciennes, center and right  are handmade Valenciennes, which has a 4 strand braid ground.  Look closely at the enlarged version of the right hand piece.  (I made this sample, but used a thread too thick for the pattern, so it is hard to see the individual threads.)   You will see little tufts of cut threads at the tops and bottoms of the circle motifs.  In Valenciennes it is common to add some pairs to the cloth areas to make them dense enough.  This is especially common in the square mesh Val, which doesn't provide enough ground threads to make the clothwork look right.  In the far right piece, top circle,  you can see some very long thread ends lying on the surface of the lace; I did this on purpose to make the tufts easier to see.  The center piece has no tufts, but you can easily see each individual thread and its path through the lace.  There are no inexplicable ridges or bunches.  The machine lace on the left has places where ridges of threads obscure the individual thread paths.  Also there is a ridge just inside the picots on the headside.  These are giveaway telltale signs of machine lace.  In handmade bobbin lace it will be possible to see individual thread paths, and it will be possible to see where each individual thread goes (with sufficient magnification).  Valenciennes and Point de Paris made just around 1900 or in the early 20th century are hard to distinguish from the machine made, because the threads used at that time for the handmade lace were exceedingly thin, and very high magnification is necessary to see the individual threads.  But with good magnification and light, identification is a sure thing. 

Machine Chantilly Handmade Chantilly bobbin lace

Compare Bobbin and chemical lace:            bk

Chemical lace imitating bobbin made Duchesse. Handmade Duchesse bobbin lace (not a particularly high quality sample).


Chemical lace imitating Honiton (a bobbin lace). Handmade Honiton


 In the flower petals on the left it is hard to see what the weave is, it just looks like horizontal and vertical lines.  In the handmade lace on the right, half stitch in the petals and leaves is very clear.  Bobbin half stitch has horizontal (as the lacemaker works) and diagonal lines.  We are looking at this at 90 degrees off the direction the lacemaker looks as she works.  So you see vertical lines and diagonal lines.

Compare Irish Crochet and machine made chemical lace:                                bk

Duchesse bobbin lace. Irish Crochet -- itself an imitation of Duchesse or Honiton bobbin lace. Chemical lace imitating Irish Crochet

The design on the right closely  imitates the Irish crochet piece (above center), which itself is an imitation of bobbin made Duchesse.  Chemical lace is made by machine embroidery, very dense, in cotton thread on synthetic cloth.  Once the embroidery is completed, the whole fabric is dipped in some kind of acid which dissolves the synthetic fabric, but not the cotton embroidery, which remains as a lacy fabric which holds together by having the embroidery run over itself, connecting its various parts.  (See Pat Earnshaw for description of various machine methods.)  

Chemical lace     Needle lace, hand made

The first 3 are also chemical lace, possibly intended to imitate needle lace.  Date unknown.  Notice the fuzzy edges of the motifs.   In the needle lace above right the motif edges are smooth and the buttonhole stitches on the cordonnet are clearly visible.  The braids are also clear and distinct.

Compare Battenberg lace (made with machine made straight tape) and Bobbin made tape lace (tape is woven and shaped on the pillow)                      bk

Battenberg type lace using straight machine made tapes. Notice folds when tape changes direction. Left: same piece.  Right: bobbin made tape lace.

This compares Battenberg or renaissance type mixed lace with bobbin made tape lace.  Battenberg and renaissance type lace (there are other terms as well, princess is a particular type) are made with straight machine woven narrow tapes, gathered or folded to go around curves, and held together with needle lace stitches between the tapes.  The left two photos are of this type: notice the folds and wrinkles as the tape changes direction. The right hand photo shows the same piece and a bobbin made piece together.  On the right, the tape is perfectly smooth as it turns curves and changes direction.  This is because the tape itself is woven directly on the pillow and fudge stitches are used to eliminate  bulk where threads are compressed into a small area.

Compare Filet Lacis and Filet Crochet:                                               bkmk

 Filet crochet, top, and knotted netting, called filet lacis, bottom. Handmade filet lacis.

 (Another name for filet is filet guipure).     With knotted netting, the square mesh is made first, then embroidery with a needle weaves in the denser design areas.  You can see the knots at each thread junction.  This type can also be made in rounds, as circular laces.

Compare pulled thread work and drawn thread work         bk mk

     pulled thread work
mb/ db/ LH
  drawn thread embroidery JL   drawn thread work m/b Jenny B
These 2 are pulled thread.  The holes are made by pulling the stitches very tightly as you work.  You can see that the holes are relatively small and you can follow the threads from the plain woven cloth into the pulled stitch area.  These 2 are drawn thread work in process.  You can see that the holes are far too large to be accounted for by stitching with tension.  Something had to be removed to create such large holes.  The blue piece shows you the actual cut threads.

c/o JO       mb/ db/ LH
This is cutwork, of a curvilinear kind.  The holes do not follow the weave of the cloth, but are triangular.  Notice the close stitching over the edges of the holes to stabilize them.  This may be Hedebo.  These 2 are Hardanger, a form of geometric cut and drawn work originating in Norway.  In the beige one the threads have been cut, but no decoration of the empty spaces has yet been started.  In the pink one I am halfway into the needleweaving on one bar.

    Needle Lace Introduction      Pulled Thread Work      Hardanger Embroidery     Drawn Thread Work   

   Filet Lacis Teneriffe     Cutwork      Embroidered Net      Knit Crochet Tat      Battenberg