Here's another piece also found here in France. My wild guess would be an early example of Gros Point or something similar???? It measures roughly 18" x 5"

All suggestions will be much appreciated!


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The Gros Point looks like machine made lace to me. I think it is made on the Schiffli (machine embroidery) machine on a fabric that is then dissolved away. This is sometimes called "chemical lace". It is nicely detailed.

If it were point de France the bars would have clearly recognizable buttonhole stiches on them.

Hi Devon,

Thanks so much for your input. I'm guessing you're referring to the other piece rather than the one here that Lorelei identified as Irish? If it is schiffli though, it is very different from other schiffli lace I have - a close up attached , as well as a better close up of the "gros point" stole done on my scanner. There you can see better all the stitching detail. Design wise it looks like perhaps they were going for an Irish feel rather than venise gros point?? It's all so confusing! :)

Thanks again, Deborah


Hi Lorelei,

Oh golly... ok, so the outlines on handmade alencon are actually buttonhole stitch it seems from your comparison photos?

Dear Deborah,

In my opinion the photo you have identified as stole-cu.jpg is Schiffli, as well as the one you identify as Schiffli.

It is very confusing. Irish crochet lace was made during the mid 19th century with the idea of immitating the appearance of 17th century gros point lace, so there are similarities in the shapes of motifs and such. The Schiffli machine is an embroidery machine that embroiders on a cloth that is then dissolved away. The Schiffli machine was considered particularly good for duplicating the heavy, dramatic needlelaces such as gros point, and by extension, Irish crochet, whereas the warp machines were better for the laces of the 18th century which tended to have a lot of fine mesh. But, the thing to remember is that the embroidery machine is capable of being programmed to make really good immitations of all sorts of heavy laces such as Gros Point and Irish crochet. It is really a remarkably versatile machine. The leaders of the Schiffli industry, many based in Switzerland, went to great lengths to collect handmade antique laces in order to copy them with startling verismilitude. In fact, some of the greatest handmade lace collections of the late 19th century were made by Schiffli manufacturers such as the Ikle family.

The Schiffli machine is like your home sewing machine in that there is a top thread and there is a bobbin thread on the bottom that lock together. So if you turn the piece over, you should see the bobbin thread on the other side. If you ravel itk there should be two threads, one on the top, and one on the bottom that lock together.  In handmade lace this wouild not occur when you raveled the lace. During the construction of the lace, the bobbin thread is held in a little case under the plate of the sewing machine, as the needle goes up and down, again as in your home sewing machine. The little case that the bobbin is held in reminded the Swiss of a small boat, called a "schiffli" . That is why it is called Schiffli lace.

I had been making both bobbin lace and needle lace for many years, and still found myself being caught out by some of these wonderful machine made copies until I read the books by Pat Earnshaw about machine made lace. It was only when I understood how machine made lace was made and what it looked like that I could more easily identify the machine lace copies which are often so excellent.

Oh my... so interesting. Thank you... I have to work now but will see if I can see what you mean with the threads on the stole later on. I'm just confused about the techniques and finishings of these 2 pieces looking so different... 


The books Devon refers to are these:

Pat Earnshaw LACE MACHINES AND MACHINE LACES, B.T. Batsford, London 1986.  There are 2 volumes. I've only seen volume 1.  Helps with understanding what is and isn't possible in machine laces.  I could wish some of the close-ups showed more detail.

Also you might want to check the other online community, laceioli. On the opening page for the IDENTIFICATION-HISTORY group is a long list of resources, many online. 

It also is free to join.  But you can still see all the content, even it you are not a member.


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