Lacemaking pattern


Categories Threads
Theme(s) Arts and crafts
Collection Museum of English Rural Life (The MERL) Object Collection
Date Around 1875
Object number 83/76/1
  • Description

This lacemaking pattern, made from vellum and cloth, would be stuck to a lacemaking pillow and would form a template for the lace work to be carried out. Lace patterns have existed for as long as the lacemaking profession, with pattern books printed in Venice as early as the sixteenth century. Although lace was rarely worn by ordinary working people in the countryside, it is widely considered a cottage industry as lacemaking would supplement a rural family’s income. Lace was far more expensive than other types of garment, given its detailed and time-consuming nature. 

Lace makers would follow trends, such as the demand for gold and silver lace to edge clothes like jackets and gloves. Designs became more and more intricate over the centuries, with thread becoming progressively finer. The introduction of machine-made lace in the early nineteenth century made it almost impossible for individuals to make a living from lacemaking, and skill in the craft became rare across the country.