Other Antique Handmade Lace

        from the collection of Marla Mallett 

In addition to needlepoint and bobbin lace techniques, a variety of structures have been used to create stunning open, lacy fabrics: netting, crochet, cutwork, knitting, tatting, embroidery and appliqué among them. Although these sometimes copied the more expensive and labor intensive laces, all were used creatively at times to produce fascinating textiles that were far more than "imitation lace." Indeed, some of these structures were among the earliest laces.  

Click on the links below to see larger photos and magnified details of the structures. The laces below have all been sold, and are posted here solely for informational purposes.   

Filet Lace

Plain knotted netting was made with a small shuttle and gauge rod, then the net was stretched on a frame and patterns needle-woven into the net. Originally called "lacis," this was one of the oldest forms of lacemaking --  one used frequently in 16th and 17th century Italy. The technique was revived in the mid 19th century and adopted enthusiastically by Victorians. Like many other laces, the technique was widely copied by machine processes well into the 20th century, but handmade examples are easily identified.  Small individual fishermen's knots can be seen at each corner of the square-meshed netting. In the purest pieces, designs were produced solely in linen weave, while in others, longer darning stitches were used for contrast. 

Larger photo and magnified detail

Filet Combined with Bobbin Lace

Most often 19th century filet lace designs were composed of abstract, scrolling floral motifs that reflected Renaissance patterning. But allegorical scenes were popular in early filet lace too and reappeared in Victorian work, like this anti-macassar. This piece was enhanced with Torchon bobbin lace borders and shiny linen tassels. Lions grace small side panels.  

Larger photo 


In 16th century Italy, another lace was made with needle interlacing on gauze fabrics. The ground cloth was handwoven first on a loom in a leno structure featuring twisted pairs of warps. The needleworker turned this fabric sideways and interlaced her pattern yarns with  stitches that paralleled the warps. In my example, linen threads of three different weights and spins were contrasted, but the overall effect remained rather heavy. This was an ecclesiastical lace in which peacocks and vine branches carried religious significance. This panel was edged with bobbin lace. 

Larger photo and magnified detail

Armenian Lace

Another approach to knotted netting has been used in several Eastern Mediterranean countries -- in Anatolian Turkey, Cyprus, Palestine, Algeria and other areas -- although it is most often called Armenian lace. Unlike filet, in which netting merely provides a ground for needle-worked patterns, the net structure itself in Armenian lace is decorative. Groups of threads are combined or separated at will, and sometimes individually-made circular pieces are combined. Closely knotted areas are contrasted with open work on this collar. [L-3008] 

Larger photo and magnified detail

Carrickmacross Appliqué

After the development of machine bobbinet in the early 19th century, needleworkers used it as a foundation for several kinds of lacy products. In Monaghan County, Ireland, sheer lawn or cambric fabrics were appliquéd on net by sewing over a cordonnet to outline flowery patterns. The excess fabric was then cut away. Small areas were cut through entirely and needlework fillings added. This example is a long stole, or veil, bordered all around, and with baskets of flowers at each end. [L-709]

Larger photo and full view 

Carrickmacross Guipere

In this unusual lace, presumably also made in Ireland, the approach differed. Overcast cordonnets outlined floral motifs on a heavier ground fabric, and the excess cloth was trimmed away. The motifs were then joined with thread bars in a "guipere" fashion, and fillings were made within the flower petals and leaves. Although the scale of this collar is large, it has an austere elegance.  [L-569]

Larger photo and magnified detail

Crocheted Lace

Crochet had been used earlier as a fabric structure, but became popular as a lace-making technique in the mid-19th century. Some of the earliest pieces imitated either bobbin lace or needlepoint lace, and the designer of this large 19th century Irish collar incorporated several standard Reticella needlepoint motifs. It is edged with crocheted ball fringe, a strictly Victorian touch.  [L-724]

Larger photo 

Irish Crochet

Ireland has produced the most crocheted lace. The best known patterns at first imitated Italian floral needlepoint, but evolved into a distinctive style that now readily comes to mind whenever Irish crochet is mentioned. Rose petals and leaves were meticulously built up in tiers to make a three-dimensional fabric for this collar. The parts were all connected with picot-ornamented bars. Many costume items were produced in this style.  [L-124]

Larger photo and magnified detail

Crochet and Tape Lace

This small linen tray cover was embellished with a bold, imaginative combination of crocheted details and commercially purchased tapes. Here, vigorous garlands of leaves and flowers were either sewn together or attached with thread bars.  Crocheted balls in the flower centers added more dimensionality.  [L-657]

Larger photo


The designer of this piece produced an imaginative set of cuffs and collar by combining five different crochet stitches, and then adding loose petals to a central flower. The edging and large meshwork in this cuff were surely inspired originally by needlepoint lace details.  [L-634] 

Larger photo 


Nineteenth century women who produced creative works in crochet have not been given proper credit. On this collar, stitches were contrasted effectively, and flowers were built up in an unusual way. Only the edging was standard.  Some of these artisans  well understood the meaning of structural design.  [L-830]

Larger photo 

Limerick Lace

Needle-run embroidery on a net foundation was a technique used to produce a variety of lace styles throughout the 19th century, especially in Ireland. This stole, or veil, is 264 cm. long, and is covered with graceful embroidered garlands of flowers. The designs were formed with darning stitches that ran in and out of the net. On this example, many dainty needlepoint fillings were added within the motifs. This stole is probably from the mid-19th century.  [L-3009]

Larger photo and magnified detail

Bretonne Needle-Run Lace

A large, dramatic Victorian collar was made with couched outlines and tiny coils along with needle-run filings and needlepoint details -- all on a machine- made net foundation.  [L-227]

Larger photo and magnified detail

Tambour Embroidery

With netting stretched on a frame, a tambour needle (much like a fine crochet hook) was used to pull a series of thread loops through the net and onto the surface. The resulting chain stitch is distinctive and easily identified. These pieces, decorated with floral sprays, were made after 1820, primarily in Limerick in Ireland or in Coggeshall, England. The interiors of the chain stitched motifs were sometimes needle-run, as in the two pieces above. This small triangular veil or scarf, however, was all done with tambour embroidery.  [L-903]

Larger photo and magnified detail


Of all the laces on these pages, tatting and crochet were the primary types that occupied American needlewomen in the past.  I well remember sitting with my grandmother as a young child, learning how to manipulate a small silver tatting shuttle. A series of knots were tied along a foundation thread, then pulled up into tiny circles or scallops. Tatting was popular from about 1850 on, primarily for medallions and narrow dainty edgings for garments.

Larger photo 

Knit Pita Lace

A photo cannot accurately convey the nature of knitted Pita lace, from the Azores, as this medallion is more delicate than any other lace on these pages. This is a single-thread construction, produced with conventional knitting stitches, but with almost cobweb-like results. Most such pieces apparently date from the early 19th century.  [L-173]

Larger photo and magnified detail

Nanduti Lace

A lace known as Tennerife developed in the Canary Islands and Spain, then spread to Latin America. Examples like this come from Paraguay, where they are called Nanduti.  Radiating circular scaffolds of threads were first stretched on a base, and fancy fillings were needle-woven on these threads. This piece may date from the early 20th century, but such lace is still produced. Unfortunately few current examples have this delicacy.  [L-245]

Larger photo


Here threads were drawn from a linen ground fabric, both vertically and horizontally, and diagonal scaffolding threads were added. Then geometric starburst motifs were interwoven, much as in the Nanduti lace above.  Although this very small piece probably dates from the late 19th century, the techniques developed much earlier. This work differs, however from the 16th century Italian type of drawnwork in which everything was buttonholed.  [L-157]

Larger photo

Princess Guipere Tape Lace 

Tape laces became popular in the late 19th century, and were made through much of the 20th century -- in greatly varying qualities. Many bobbin laces have been based on bobbin-made braids, but when commercially manufactured tapes of various sorts became available, imitations could quickly and easily be produced by people with minimal skills. The most common tape laces were known as Battenburg and Renaissance. In the tape lace piece shown here, the designer combined three different commercial tapes, curving, folding and sewing them together to make leaves and rosettes; then she bridged the spaces between with thread bars.  [L-149]

Larger photo

Peruvian Net Lace

The oldest piece of lace I have encountered is this Pre-Columbian Peruvian knotted netting from the Chancay period, 1100-1350 A.D.  It is quite astonishing!  [L-3011]

Larger photo and magnified detail

Go to:

Antique Needlepoint Lace
Antique Bobbin Lace
Main Lace Page

Lace for Sale

1690 Johnson Road NE
Atlanta, GA  30306

E-mail:  marlam@mindspring.com
Phone:  404-872-3356


© Marla Mallett