More Books on the History of Lace

Do you love all things lace? We at PieceWork understand; we’re rather smitten with this light and airy fabric ourselves. Below are a few of our favorite books on the history of lace, which were reviewed in the May/June 2009 issue of PieceWork, our second-annual Lace Issue.


Embroidered with White: The 18th Century Fashion for Dresden Lace and Other Whiteworked Accessories

By Heather Toomer
Radstock, England: Heather Toomer Antique Lace, 2008. Softbound,180 pages, £19.75 (about $29). ISBN 978-0-9542730-2-6.

Heather Toomer traces Dresden lace, a style of whitework embroidery consisting of drawn-thread filling stitches that is believed to have originated in Dresden, Germany, through its fashion heyday in Britain. The time-consuming technique, used primarily on sleeve ruffles, aprons, kerchiefs, and shawls and “worked systematically across the surface of the fabric to create both openings and surface work simultaneously,” achieved the appearance of lace. Meticulously researched and containing period portraits, abundant detail photographs of examples from museum and private collections, as well as twenty patterns by Elspeth Reed and an illustrated stitch glossary, Embroidered with White will delight embroiderers.

—Lexi Smithson


The Paris Point
By Martine Piveteau
Paris: L’Inédite, n.d. Hardbound, 68 pages, 22C (about $28). ISBN 978-2-35032-137-0.

This French book with English and Italian translations opens with a brief history of lacemaking in France, particularly point de Paris, a type of lace that probably originated in that city in the seventeenth century and evolved into Chantilly lace. What follows is a treasure trove for makers of bobbin lace: illustrations and diagrams of basic stitches and prickings and instructions for making seventeen point de Paris edgings, insertions, and doilies.

—Jane Morrow


The Lace Reader: A Novel
By Brunonia Barry
New York: William Morrow, 2008. Hardbound, 391 pages, $24.95. ISBN 978-0-06162476-6.

Set in today’s Salem, Massachusetts, a city notorious for its late- seventeenth-century witch hunts and trials, The Lace Reader will engage you in the drama of a woman’s world and her perception of reality. Brunonia Barry’s female characters spin thread and make bobbin lace; those belonging to the Whitney family also have inherited the ability to use lace patterns to foretell the future. Barry composes a world of secrets, lies, and shifting identities as she constantly switches between Detective John Rafferty’s point of view and that of the inveterate truth bender, Towner Whitney. Mystery lovers and lacemakers, in particular, will love this story, which keeps the reader guessing until the very last page.

—Stephanie Nelson

Read more about the history of lace in our blog post, “A Selection of Books on Lace and Wedding History.”

Indulge in all things lace with PieceWork’s annual Lace issues!