Lacemaking was originally a “cottage industry” before the Industrial Revolution. It was made mainly by women and girls from the age of 6, either at home or in “lace schools” as a way to make some money while still being confined to the home.
Traditional bobbin lace was made by weaving and twisting together threads wound on wooden bobbins, and then pinning the threads in place onto a “lace pillow”.
Lacemakers often gathered together in order to share warmth and socialise. “Lace Tells” were songs the lacemakers would sing together while at their lace pillows. These songs were often macabre in nature, telling stories that often involved bloody murder, sexual threat and premature death. They sometimes incorporated the lace-making process into the songs - for example, counting the pins as they are pushed into the pillow.
After the industrial revolution and the development of machinery, lace making by hand was no longer a feasible way to make money. Lacemaking as an industry has since been done using machines. Nottingham then became the centre of the world’s lace industry, though today only one true lace-making factory remains in Nottingham.
Lacemaking by hand lives on through hobby lacemakers.
Some blog posts specifically about lacemaking as a craft are below. See all other blog posts here
- History of Lacemaking