I have followed the comments about the basic stitch for Alencon reseau with interest.     A few days ago I was fortunate enough to be able to examine some antique Alencon lace under a 400X magnification microscope which links to a computer.  On the samples I looked at there were three ways in which this stitch was made.   The first one showed the return row thread being laid across the row and not whipped in any way (just like we do in Corded Brussels stitch.     This was somewhat loose in appearance.   The second way showed that the return row thread was whipped twice into the gaps between the stitches such as shown in Pat Earnshaw's book. This looked acceptable to the eye.   There were several pieces worked this way.    And the third way showed that the return row thread was whipped three times into the gaps as such as this diagram.  This looked nice and there were several pieces worked this way.     Also we were able to compare the thread used with modern thickness threads.    It compared to the Egyptian cotton thickness 200/2, which is very fine.   The guide for threads is the higher the first number the finer the thread.  I think that Egyptian cotton 50/2 is probably about the thickness of normal sewing thread.    The number after (/) shows the number of threads twisted together.  I can only say that I marvel at the eyesight of the people working  lace years ago.

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The one you describe with the straight stitch return is actually a filling stitch rather than a background stitch.  It is usually worked a little closer than the background reseau.  It is shown on page 87 of La dentelle à l'aiguille  by Brigitte Delesques Dépalle.  Her book also shows the reseau with a 3 whip return. 

It sounds like you are describing these:

corded twisted buttonhole


whipped 3 times

I couldn't find an image of the stich whipped 2 times.


If I remember, I think Pat Earnshaw's picture shows the stitch whipped 2 times


The green sketch with an orange return look like what Brigitte Delesques-Dépalle call "gaze claire" used in Alençon or in Point de gaze.


The twisted stitch with straight return is used both for the Alençon rempli, or cloth stitch, where the stitches are placed close together, and also in the "gaze claire" as a filling stitch where the stitches are spaced a bit apart, but not as far apart as in making the reseau. 

Your comments are interesting.    I would just say that the stitches I have described above were on the ground of the lace and not used as a filling.    We have no way of knowing why the lace was made this way, maybe an apprentice misunderstood what they were supposed to do.

Hi Lorelei,

It's in "Needle-made Laces" from Pat Earnshaw, page 51, fig.46c

Have a good day to you and all the group members!


Christiane Machabée said:


If I remember, I think Pat Earnshaw's picture shows the stitch whipped 2 times


Maureen, can you upload photos of the lace you looked at under the microscope and share them with us?  I'd love to see them.

Loretta,  I have some photos on a flash drive of one piece of lace taken through the microscope.   Unfortunately I only photographed the one piece so will upload these over the next day or so.   I need to find the flash drive with them on!!   Unfortunately I do not have photos of the lace itself but should be able to get further photos of this and the others later in the year.   The lace is not mine but is owned by a friend of mine and I will have to wait until I see her next to get more photos.    I am somewhat frustrated as I had intended to take photos of all the samples, but was sidetracked into something else.......

I can look forward to photos!

Have now downloaded photos from the microscope.   They are all from one piece of lace as that is all I have saved onto the flash drive. 

I am sorry I have had to delete the photos. I have tried to remove my last reply.


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