Make Lace 1870s Style

We asked Louisa Demmitt, one of our instructional designers, to give you a preview of our newest eBook with the material from our edition of Beeton’s Book of Needlework. Here’s Louisa to talk about lace!

This illustration shows the point-lace design traced onto tracing cloth, which is lightly tacked to a foundation of leather. The braid is being placed on the pattern.

This illustration shows the point-lace design traced onto tracing cloth, which is lightly tacked to a foundation of leather. The braid is being placed on the pattern.
All illustrations from Beeton’s Book of Needlework.

Reading vintage pattern books is always a particular treat. While we take great care to make sure our craft patterns are beautiful, understandable, and correct nowadays, we’ve lost some of the language of days gone by. We would not write “the slightest alteration by a worker wanting in taste will spoil the whole piece of workmanship,” but the people of 1870 did, as can be joyfully read in Vintage Lace with Mrs. Beeton. This eBook release of the nineteenth-century original is comprised of directions for and illustrations of point lace, “which is made of stitches or points worked in patterns by hand, which are joined by various stitches forming a groundwork.”

This is the completed medallion in point lace begun in the illustration above.

This is the completed medallion in point lace begun in the illustration above.

Many of these delicate stitches have wonderfully exotic names, such as Rosette in Point d’Angleterre, Point de Bruxelles, and Point de Venise. The stiches are illustrated growing from braid or cord anchors, beautiful embellishments that can be created in countless shapes and patterns. There are wonderful tips and tricks peppered throughout as well, such as “in selecting patterns ladies should choose those traced upon green leather in preference to scarlet or buff, as green is better for the eyesight than any other colour.” Who knew?

A point-lace collar.

A point-lace collar.

In these pages you will also find suggestions for the correct tools to use (ivory thimbles are acceptable for “light work”) and a glimpse into how much materials cost in 1870 (tracing cloth was “1s. 6d. per yard”; 1 shilling and 6 pennies or about 40 cents in U.S. money). This is a lovely time capsule of a book, filled with workable patterns as well as a politeness of prose that has sadly gone out of style. Here you will learn beautiful lace while being transported back in time, a truly lovely combination.

Happy stitching,
Louisa

Louisa Demmit

Photo by Lincoln Benedict.