Lace isn’t just for wedding dresses and baby bonnets, you know. You can find it everywhere from lingerie to stylish clothing to home decor. It doesn’t have to be white, and there are dozens different ways to make it. If you’re into the romantic, feminine air that lace lends to wherever it goes, read on!
It’s possible that lacemaking goes back as far as ancient Rome, where tools that resemble those used in the craft have been found. But we do know for sure that it became popular in medieval Flanders (that’s Belgium nowadays!), and spread from there all over Europe. Different places developed their own signature techniques and patterns; you might recognize the names Chantilly, Alençon, or Valenciennes. Lace was a “cottage industry;” you didn’t need a lot of special equipment or space to make it, so women could earn a living, or some extra spending money, making it in the comfort of their own homes. There is even a patron saint of lacemaking in the Catholic church: St. John Francis Regis encouraged girls to learn it so that they would have an honest means of livelihood.
Lace can be knit or crocheted, woven, knotted, or created through specialized techniques such as bobbin lace and cutwork lace. It can be created from scratch with thread and some sort of needle, but some laces are made by cutting threads away from woven fabric, and sewing over the edges of the holes. And machine-made lace is common today; machines make it possible to create enormous sheets of lace fabric, and use synthetic fibers such as nylon. Machine lace is obviously a lot cheaper than handmade, although it may be less unique and special.
Since it was invented, women have been wearing accessories made of or embellished with lace. If you’ve ever seen a painting of Queen Elizabeth, you’ll have noticed the gigantic ruff that she wore around her neck, which looks odd (and uncomfortable!) was high fashion back then. Mantillas are lace headscarves that originated in Spain, but are worn by some women in church to this day. In Victorian times, lacy jabots were popular – a sort of bib/necktie combo. Men wore them at their necklines as well, and they became part of the formal regalia of some government officials (especially judges). Female U.S. Supreme Court Justices wear them instead of more masculine neckties now. Early snoods were often made from filet crochet lace. Before tissues were invented, lace-edged hankies were a necessity that no lady would leave home without! Nowadays, lace-trimmed clothing is fashionable, especially for brides.
Check out some of the lacy products on Coveryourhair.com; the lacy flower ponytail holder is great for any occasion, and our colorful lace doilies are great for women who want a pretty an low-key way to cover their hair.