Lace (fabric)

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Rubens : Self-portrait with his wife, 1609/10
Maria Theresa in a dress made of Brabant bobbin lace (painting by Martin van Meytens , around 1752)

In connection with textiles and clothing , lace is a collective term for very different decorative elements that consist only of yarn or of yarn and fabric . All forms of the tip have in common that they are openwork, i.e. H. holes of different sizes are formed between the threads, creating a pattern. Therefore z. B. a fabric embroidered with only one motif no lace.

The word is derived from the peak ahd. Spizza , Spizzi , mhd. Tip on what "Garngeflecht" or "expiring in jagged Border" means.

Most of the time, lace was and is used to decorate the edges of clothing; But there are also “entre-deux-lace” as an insert between two pieces of fabric, flat lace fabrics (so-called plains) and, especially since the end of the 19th century, independent objects made of lace that are independent of clothing, e.g. B. as window decoration such as macramés , florentines or as table linen .

Today, lace for clothing is mainly used for lingerie , sleepwear , women's wear, wedding dresses and traditional costumes . In addition, lace is used in the manufacture of table linen, curtains and liturgical vestments. The region around Plauen is the German center of machine-embroidered lace (see Plauen lace ), while the region around St. Gallen is the Swiss textile center (see St. Gallen lace ).

There are two types of real lace: the needle point and the bobbin lace. From a technical point of view, the needle point developed from the breakthrough work, the bobbin lace from the braid.


Venetian lace, 1690/1710

The first needle points ( reticella ) were made in northern Italy in the 15th century and became widespread in the course of the 16th century. In the 17th century the needle point technique developed from this, which was initially cultivated in Venice and Milan . Points were attached to sleeve cuffs and served as collars for men and women. Because of the complex manufacturing process, needle points were so extremely expensive that only the richest could afford them. Their popularity with the French nobility ensured a considerable transfer of capital to Italy, which Louis XIV countered by promoting lace manufacture in France.

Italian lace on a tulle ground, 1700/1710

Around 1700/1710, the cheaper, because faster, lace technique largely replaced the needle point. In the beginning, the tips were still densely patterned, but over the course of the century the tulle ground with incorporated or applied patterns became more and more popular. Tulle base lace was once again faster and cheaper to produce than tightly patterned ones, so that by the end of the 18th century, even less affluent citizens could afford lace for their Sunday best.

The crochet technique emerged from the beginning to the middle of the 19th century and was developed to perfection by homeworkers in Ireland. Occhispitze , which was made around the same time, only played a role as a domestic leisure activity .

From the beginning of the 20th century, bobbin lace and hole lace could also be made by machine, so that the traditional high-tech techniques were threatened with extinction. The lace-making was and is only kept alive regionally by associations and schools, while the needle point technique can be considered extinct. Today bobbin lace is only made by machine or executed as independent works of art. As tip is acquired in haberdashery machine drill bit (hole peak), machine-embroidered tulle lace, mordant lace or the coarser Macramé tip.

Types of lace / embroidery (selection)

Handcrafted lace

Reticella tip

The reticella point ( rete ital .: net) originated in Italy from the 2nd half of the 16th century. It developed from breakthrough work. Threads are pulled out of a plain- woven fabric and the resulting webs are embroidered with buttonhole stitching, the holes are filled with diagonal threads, which in turn are embroidered. One can differentiate between a single and a double breakthrough. Either only warp or weft threads are pulled out of the fabric, or warp and weft threads. If so many threads are pulled out that almost nothing remains of the basic material, one speaks of punto in aria (Italian: embroidery in the air). Tendrils, flowers and leaves are used as patterns. The needle point developed from the reticella.


Needle point (French guipure )

The pattern is drawn on a black cardboard and then threads, the so-called trassier threads, are stretched along the drawing, which form the basis of the lace. This basic grid is then mostly embroidered in buttonhole stitching, further connecting threads are drawn and z. T. filled the areas in between. Sometimes thicker threads are placed on parts of the grid and embroidered in order to achieve a relief surface. Finally, the box is removed.

Needle tips are the most demanding tips in terms of workload and require good eyes, lots of light and a steady hand to manufacture. They were made exclusively from cream-colored or white linen thread. At the end of the 19th century the technology was forgotten. Well-known needle points are, for example, Point de Venise , Point d'Alençon , Point de neige or Point rose .

Oriental needlepoint (French: dentelle oya , English: Needle Lace , Turkish: Igne Oyasi )

Oriental needlepoint is also known as Armenian lace, Greek needlepoint or Bebilla, Smyrna or Palestine lace, Turkish needlepoint (Oya), Nazareth lace and knot point. The oriental needle point is made with a needle, thread and scissors, which are used to create knots and connections between them. Differences in technique, the number of thread wraps around the needle, and the length of the connection between the knots will produce different results. The point of the needle is used to create a network that can take on various shapes. Either you start at the hem of a piece of fabric or you start freehand with the tip. The needle is always guided away from the body into the fabric or the loop and left halfway; Then you put the thread end across the needle in the working direction, pick up both end threads that go through the eye of the needle with your thumb and forefinger and wind them twice (clockwise or counterclockwise) over the top of the needle. Now carefully pull the needle up and make sure that the knot remains open until the thread is pulled through. So you put knots next to each other at intervals of about 5 mm. Turning, skipping arches and multiple knots in an arch creates the top. It's like crocheting , but more delicate. What the chain stitch chain or the double crochet is in crocheting, the thread itself is in the needle point, which should not be thinner than buttonhole thread. The thread must have a strong twist.

Oya goes back to the Greek oa "border, border ornament". The technique appeared in prehistoric Armenia. Images of the Armenian queens adorned with this lace go back to the 14th century. Historically, it appears in the 19th century in the form of colorful silk flowers. In the second half of the 19th century it can be found throughout the Ottoman Empire, Asia Minor, the Balkans, the Aegean islands, Palestine and Egypt. While lace was reserved for the aristocracy in Europe, the needlepoint was widely used by the people as a border for headscarves, borders for shirts and towels, but also brooches, bags and doilies up to tablecloths. This handicraft was a very popular activity for women.

Bobbin lace

When making lace , threads are crossed or twisted according to a certain pattern, the so-called beats. A pattern drawing is pinned on roll-shaped (traditionally especially in Germany) or flat lace pillows (traditionally especially France and Belgium) or a combination of both, the lace pattern. The thread is wound on bobbins, attached in pairs to the bobbin sack with needles and then twisted , interwoven or interwoven by crossing and turning the bobbins . The crossing points are held in place at the needle points specified by the pattern with thin needles until their position is fixed by the subsequent blows. At the end of a bobbin lace work it is fixed with hair or special spray (modern times) or laundry starch.

Real, hand-made bobbin lace are traditionally made in cream / white or black from linen, cotton or from cream-colored silk ( blonde ); colored threads are also used today. Bobbin lace is still very popular today and has various centers around the world. In the Erzgebirge, a traditional center of German lace manufacture, hand bobbin lace is still cultivated. Well-known bobbin lace are Mechelner, Brussels, Honiton, Valenciennes, Torchon or Schneeberger.

Mechelen lace: rococo lace with a strong linen thread outlining the pattern.
Brussels lace: It is available in bobbin and needle technique. A special feature is the separate production of ground with the needle and the fine pattern that was made. Their distinguishing mark is their fine ribbon-like relief. It is also called Points d'Angleterre (English point) because it was illegally shipped to England and sold there as a national product.
Torchon: From the 2nd half of the 19th century, originally a bobbin lace with a geometric pattern, which was finally made by machine.

Technological terms for needle and bobbin lace
Braid / Braid ( bobbin lace ): Four thread elements are continuously crossed and twisted.
Forming (bobbin lace): An (active) thread is led back and forth over three passive threads. The effect is that of a plain weave fabric with a shot effect. It is used to represent rectangular shapes and bands.
Linen stitch (bobbin lace): An (active) thread pair is passed through several (passive) thread pairs. The effect is that of a plain weave fabric.
Picot: Small double crochets that are worked in the needle and bobbin lace to decorate motifs, webs and borders.
Bridge: The connection between the motifs in needle and bobbin lace. If they fill a larger area in the needle point, it is called a web base.

Tulle lace

Handcrafted tulle lace

A machine-made tulle base is pulled through with threads similar to embroidery. Since this technique could easily be imitated by machine, tulle lace - also known as woven lace or bobbinet lace - is still widespread today and can be found in haberdashery .

Crochet lace

Handkerchief with crochet lace
Irish crochet lace

Crochet lace mimics the pattern of the needle point in a crochet technique . The Irish crochet lace or Irish guipure is particularly well-known and brought in extra income for the impoverished Irish rural population in the 19th century .

Under Csetneker peak refers to a particular technique of Häkelspitzenanfertigung. The parts equipped with the figure are crocheted separately, then attached to a sheet of paper or fabric provided with the sketch of the lace pattern and fastened with a network crocheted in their position.

Tatting (frivolities)

Tatting (Italian for "eyes", also known as frivolity work or boat tip) is knotted from a thread that has been wound on a boat . In doing so, ring-shaped (the "eyes") and arched figures are formed and connected to one another to form larger shapes.

Knitted lace

forms openwork patterns using knitting technique .


Handkerchief with a perforated tip
Richelieu work

Holes are drilled, cut or made by threading in fine white linen or cotton fabric and the edges of the holes are then tightly embroidered with white thread. The technique was v. a. Finely and artistically executed in Saxony, so that the product became an export hit as Point de Saxe or Dresden lace .

A form of whitework that is still popular today is so-called Richelieu or cutout embroidery. First, the contours of the parts of the subject with a be Festo stitch (also Languetten- or buttonhole stitch ) thick Reproduction, then certain parts are then cut out. Bridges in the openings and stuffed spiders at the crossing points give the work additional support.

Hole point (also called drill point, cotton or linen point) is a subspecies of whitework. In a base made of white batiste , round holes are drilled with an awl and then tightly embroidered with white cotton thread. At the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century, lace was popular as a border decoration on underwear, hence the name "laundry lace". The machine-made variant is called a drill bit; she is still u today a. to be found in haberdashery .

Machine tip

The prerequisite for the mechanical manufacture of lace was the invention of the stocking knitting machine by William Lee in England in 1589. However, it was not until 200 years later that the first satisfactory machine tip could be produced. The decisive factor here was a patent by Thomas and John Morris and William Betts in 1764. It was now possible to produce a tulle-like net on the machine. However, this invention was not continued.

It was only with the invention of the bobbinet tulle machine by John Heathcoat in 1808 that smooth, unpatterned tulle could be produced. This was then decorated by hand embroidery. In 1828 Josua Heilmann invented the first mechanical embroidery machine, which replaced the work of hand embroiderers.

Machine-made lace

Lace made by machine on the lace machine has simple geometric shapes with mostly folk patterns. It is often referred to as "Torchon lace" and is difficult to distinguish from hand-made lace. The city of Wuppertal has been one of the most important German production locations since the beginning around 1900 .

Machine-made lace
Embroidery machine

Air tip / etching tip

is created by machine embroidering over a fabric base and then removing the superfluous, not overstitched base. The result is an openwork fabric that looks like a needlepoint from a distance. Today the embroidery base consists of a water-soluble or not temperature-resistant material.

Appliqué tip

Hand-made lace elements are sewn onto a machine-made net base.

Literature on the needle point

  • Priscilla Armenian Lace Book . The Priscilla Publishing Co., Boston, Mass. 1923 ( [1] ).
  • Armenian Needlework and Embroidery: A Preservation of Some of History's Oldest and Finest Needlework , Kasparian, Alice Odian, Epm Pubns Inc., 1983; ISBN 0-914440-65-9
  • Filet, Verlag für die Frau, Leipzig, Handarbeitstechnik , Volume 4, pp. 49-51 ( [2] ).
  • Elena Dickson: Knotted Lace in the Eastern Mediterranean Tradition , DSterling Publishing, New York 2000, ISBN 1-86351-121-0 .
  • Gérard J. Maizou, Kathrin Müller: OYA. From Ottoman fashion to Turkish folk art. Published by the Society of Friends of Islamic Art and Culture eV, Munich 2011; ISBN 978-3-00-034471-8 ( [3] ).
  • Midori Nishida: The Beaded Edge. Inspired designs for crocheted edgings and trims CRK Design, 2011, ISBN 978-1-59668-300-6 .
  • İğne Oyası Rehberi 2013, ISBN 978-605-5647-54-4 ( [4] ).
  • Elisabeth Hamel: needle point. An old technique from the Orient re-applied . Leopold Stocker Verlag, Graz 2018, ISBN 978-3-7020-1746-0 .


  • The top exhibition in Vienna in 1906 , ed. from the Imperial and Royal Austrian Museum for Art and Industry in Vienna in two parts, 30 [60 sic.] collotype plates and an introduction by Dr. M. Dreger . In: Ornamental and handicraft folder , series IX and X, published by Karl W. Hiersemann, Leipzig 1906.
  • Marie Schuette : Old tips. Needle and bobbin lace. A guide for collectors and enthusiasts . Berlin 1913; Klinkhardt & Biermann, Munich 1981.
  • Marie Schuette: Lace from the Renaissance to the Empire. The Helene Vieweg-Brockaus Collection . Karl W. Hiersemann, Leipzig 1929.
  • Friedrich Schöner: Tips . VEB Fachbuchverlag,: Leipzig, 1982.
  • Willy Erhardt: Luck on the needle point . Vogtland, Plauen 1995, ISBN 3-928828-13-4 .
  • Ingrid Loschek: Reclams Mode and Costume Lexicon . 5th updated and expanded edition, Stuttgart 2005
  • Beate Schad: Machine tip tradition and innovation International specialist conference on October 27, 2011 in Plauen (PDF file)
  • Birgitt Borkopp-Restle: Textile treasures from the Renaissance and Baroque periods from the collections of the Bavarian National Museum , edited by Renate Eikelmann, Munich 2002
  • Script for the top course by Thessy Schoenholzer-Nichols at the Technical University of Munich, Chair of Restoration, Art Technology and Conservation Science, February 2002.

Web links

Commons : Top  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. cf. Ingrid Loschek: Reclams Mode and Costume Lexicon , 5th Updated u. extended edition, Stuttgart 2005, keyword "top"
  2. entry Jutta Lammer in: Encyclopedia of Needlework . Otto Maier Verlag, Ravensburg, 1983, ISBN 3-473-42363-7 , p. 250
  3. Beate Schad: Machine tip tradition and innovation International specialist conference on October 27, 2011 in Plauen