Brussels lace

Brussels lace

Brussels lace is a type of pillow lace that originated in and around Brussels."Brussels." "The Oxford English Dictionary". 2nd ed. 1989.] The term "Brussels lace" has been broadly used for any lace from Brussels, however the term strictly interpreted refers to bobbin lace, in which the pattern is made first, then the ground, or "réseau", added, also using bobbin lace. Brussels lace is not to be confused with Brussels point, with is a type of needle lace, though is sometimes also called "Brussels lace".cite book|last=Powys|first=Marian|title=Lace and Lace Making|url=|accessdate=2008-05-10|year=2002|month=March|publisher=Dover Publications|isbn=0486418111|pages=pp.27-29]

Brussels lace is made in pieces, with the flowers and design made separate from the ground, unlike Mechlin lace or Valenciennes lace; because of this, the long threads that form the design always follow the curves of the pattern, whereas in bobbin laces made all at once, the threads are parallel to the length of the lace.cite book|last=Sharp|first=Mary|coauthors=|editor=|title=Point and Pillow Lace|url=|accessdate=2008-05-10|year=2007|month=March|publisher=Herron Press|isbn=1406745626|pages=pp.127-136|quote=] Brussels lace is also distinguished by its "réseau" or background, the "toilé" or pattern, and the lack of a "cordonnet" outlining the pattern. The "réseau" is hexagonal, with four threads plaited four times on two sides, and two threads twisted twice on the remaining four sides. The "toilé" can be of two types, the standard woven texture like a piece of fabric, or a more open version with more of the appearance of a netted "réseau". This allows for shading in the designs, an effect that was used more in the later designs. In Brussels lace, instead of a "cordonnet", the pattern is edged with open stitches, which are then picked up to form the réseau.

Brussels lace is well known for its delicacy and beauty. Originally it was only made from the finest spun linen thread, which was spun in dark damp rooms to keep the thread from becoming too brittle. Only one ray of light was allowed into the room, and it was arranged so that it fell upon the thread.cite book|last=Palliser|first=Bury|title=History of Lace|url=|accessdate=2008-05-12|year=1984|month=November|publisher=Dover|isbn=0486247422|pages=pp.102-120] This fine thread is part of what prevented mechanizing the process of making Brussels lace, as well as the production of it in other regions, as it could not be bought anywhere else. It was also what made the lace so costly. Brussels lace cost more than Mechlin lace, and was in high demand in England and France.

Brussels lace started to be produced in the 15th century, and was first explicitly mentioned in England in a list of presents given to Princess Mary at New Years', 1543. [cite book|last=Strickland|first=Agnes|title=Lives of the Queens of England|url=|accessdate=2008-05-12|year=1848|month=|publisher=|isbn=|pages=|quote=]


The first step was to spin the flax thread, which was then given to the lace-makers who made the pattern, which was generally of flowers. Then the lace-makers would make the "réseau", hooking onto the open edge of the pattern, and working around the pattern to fill the ground.

Point d'Angleterre

In 1662, the English Parliament passed an act prohibiting the import of all foreign lace, as it was alarmed at how much money was being spent on foreign lace, and wanted to protect the English lace manufacturers. However, the English lace merchants could not supply lace of the same quality as the Brussels lace, and could not get Flemish lace-makers to settle in England. England also produced inferior flax, and thus could not spin the fine thread required, and so the lace produced was of an inferior quality. Since the merchants could not produce the lace at home, they resorted to smuggling, and named the smuggled Brussels lace 'Point d'Angleterre', "English point".

France also had regulations forbidding the importation of foreign lace, so the Brussels lace sold in France was sold under this name. To this day all Brussels lace is called "Point d'Angleterre" in France. The ladies in the court of Louis XV really liked this lace.

When the prohibition ended in 1699, Brussels lace began to become popular again. Queen Anne bought a lot of it, despite the high price. [cite book|last=Ashton|first=John|title=Social Life in the Reign of Queen Anne|url=|accessdate=2008-05-12|year=2004|month=March|publisher=Adamant Media Corporation|isbn=1402149301|pages=|quote=] In the courts of George I and George II the lace became very popular, despite efforts to encourage native lacemaking. It was used on ruffles, lappets, and flounces. Individual pieces were large, they were made of many one-inch to two and a half-inch pieces, sewn together seamlessly. This type of lace was made until the French Revolution.

Point plat appliqué

"Point plat appliqué" ("Applied flat point") is the term given to Brussels lace where the design is appliqued to machine net, instead of using handmade réseau. In 1810, in Nottingham, a machine that made extermely regular linen netting was perfected, and machine-made net became common. From this point on the handmade réseau was only made upon request, and the designs were appliqued directly onto the machine-made net. This resulted in the designs becoming more spread out and less connected.

This type can be distinguished from handmade net, as often the net is not cut away behind the appliqued design, thus the net can be seen on the back of the design. Also, the machine-made net was made of diamond shaped mesh, rather than the hexagonal réseau.

Point Duchesse

"Point Duchesse" ("Duchess point") is the term for a Belgian lace that does not have a réseau. It is made entirely on the pillow, with the pattern made so that the leaves and flowers naturally join, so there is rarely a bar thrown across to connect them. As there is no réseau, the designs are more continuous.


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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Brussels lace — Brussels Brus sels, n. A city of Belgium, giving its name to a kind of carpet, a kind of lace, etc. [1913 Webster] {Brussels carpet}, a kind of carpet made of worsted yarn fixed in a foundation web of strong linen thread. The worsted, which alone …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Brussels lace — Lace Lace (l[=a]s), n. [OE. las, OF. laz, F. lacs, dim. lacet, fr. L. laqueus noose, snare; prob. akin to lacere to entice. Cf. {Delight}, {Elicit}, {Lasso}, {Latchet}.] 1. That which binds or holds, especially by being interwoven; a string, cord …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Brussels lace — n. [after BRUSSELS, where orig. made] 1. Historical a bobbin or needlepoint lace with a raised design 2. a machine made lace with an appliquéd design …   English World dictionary

  • Brussels lace — 1. a fine handmade lace in a floral pattern outlined with raised cordonnet, originally made in the area of Brussels. 2. a modern machine made net lace on which floral designs are appliquéd. [1740 50] * * *  lace made in Brussels from the second… …   Universalium

  • Brussels lace — Brus′sels lace′ n. 1) tex a fine handmade lace in a floral pattern outlined with raised cordonnet, orig. made in the area of Brussels 2) tex a modern machine made lace with appliquéd floral designs • Etymology: 1740–50 …   From formal English to slang

  • Brussels lace — variety of lace which is manufactured in Brussels …   English contemporary dictionary

  • brussels lace — /brʌsəlz ˈleɪs/ (say brusuhlz lays) noun any of various types of hand made lace both needle point and bobbin, produced in various parts of Belgium, notably in the 19th century; often with raised or appliqué design {originally from Brussels} …   Australian-English dictionary

  • Brussels lace — noun an elaborate kind of lace, typically with a raised design …   English new terms dictionary

  • Brussels lace — n. an elaborate needlepoint or pillow lace …   Useful english dictionary

  • Brussels lace — noun Date: 1732 1. any of various fine needlepoint or bobbin laces with floral designs made originally in or near Brussels 2. a machine made net of hexagonal mesh …   New Collegiate Dictionary

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