The Victoria and Albert Museum

The Victoria and Albert Museum

Object Type
Lace-making developed in England during the 16th century in response to the growth in personal wealth and to changes in fashionable dress. Needle lace, still then seen as a branch of embroidery, was made in professional workshops in London. But through the teaching of embroidery as a domestic skill, with needle lace stitches in the repertoire, lace was also made at home, for the decoration of household linen and clothing.

Ownership & Use
Lace was worn by both men and women in the 17th century. It could be made to shape for particular items like collars, or worked in lengths, as this piece has been, to be adapted for different purposes. The showiest effects were achieved with lace worn at the throat, setting off the face, and at the wrist. A fashionable man might even have matching lace borders on the tops of his stockings, turning down over his boots.

Materials & Making
This example is made with a thick linen thread, giving solid areas decorated with tiny voided patterns. It was worked in simple buttonhole stitches over an outlining thread which would have followed a parchment pattern.

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  • Title: Border
  • Creator: Unknown
  • Date Created: 1620/1640
  • Location: England
  • Physical Dimensions: Length: 162.5 cm, Width: 8 cm
  • Provenance: Given by Mrs A. M. Wedgwood, in memory of Mrs A. A. Gordon Clark
  • Medium: Needle lace


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