This Brussels lace flounce combines machine-made net and handmade lace. It came to the V&A with matching narrow flounces.
The market for all qualities of lace grew in the mid 19th century. Handmade lace was a status symbol that demonstrated wealth and position. In the 1850s and 1860s people began to spend large quantities of money on luxury lace as they had done in the 18th century.
Silk lace and embroidered nets were popular in the early 19th century. By the 1840s delicate but richly patterned Brussels lace was back in fashion. Manufacturers made great efforts to improve and expand the industry to meet demand. Lace schools opened, and producers commissioned new designs from Paris. By the mid 1840s, Brussels was again the leading centre for fashion lace. Manufacturers continued to use handmade net until the 1850s. However, machine net applied with part-lace motifs became increasingly common. You can see this combination on this flounce, which is nevertheless of very high quality.