The History Of Paper Lacework
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Paper Lacework is a Victorian needlework technique of repeating geometric patterns so that they resemble lace. Perforated paper AKA punched card or Bristol Board was the popular fabric choice for Lacework. Paper Lacework patterns first appeared in Victorian needlework pieces starting around 1860.
There are two ways to achieve a Lacework pattern:
- by stitching the pattern on the paper
- by carefully cutting away parts of the paper
Because the cut away Lacework pieces are fragile, many paper pieces did not survive. Most surviving Lacework pieces have their filling patterns stitched, often with black silk or a dark contrasting color.
The pieces shown here are in the collection of Claudia Dutcher Kistler
Lacework needle book 1867
The paper has been cut away to form the pattern. Under the pattern is green silk ribbon.
Lacework Stamp Holder
The stamp holder pattern was made by cutting away the paper. The color behind the pattern is the dark pink backing ribbon.
Bookmarks are the most common Lacework pieces. Many survived only because they were protected in books and bibles. The cross was a popular pattern because a Lacework background or filling design was easier to achieve due to the rectangular shape of the cross motif.
Lacework bookmark patterns were featured in ladies magazines.
The pattern on this black bookmark is stitched.
Lacework Cross Bookmarks
Size - 2.75" w x 4" h
24 holes per inch
These two identical bookmarks are
excellent examples of both types of Lacework.
The paper has been cut away to form the pattern in the clear one.
The stitched one was worked with
an unusual color of red silk.
More Paper Lacework
Elizabeth Jones 1873
The Lacework pattern on this mourning sampler is cut out. The backing material is a black wool fabric.
Design size - 10" w x 16.5" h
Paper size - 15 holes per inch
This piece came from the UK. It is a rare sampler style piece where a cut away Lacework pattern was used to define the entire background. The background pattern was cut out first and then the words were added. What you see in this piece, the effect of lace acting as a frame for the words, is an excellent example of what the technique was intended to do.
In Memory of
Aged 25 Years
Elizabeth Jane & Rhoda Ann daughters of the above
who died at the early age of 6 months each
Large Framed Cross
Size 5.5" w x 10" h
12 holes per inch
The Lacework pattern for both bookmarks was made by cutting away the paper.
The background color is the color of the silk
ribbon backing them.
Berlinwork Parrot / Lacework
Size 5.5" w x 4.5" h
Stitched with silk.
20 holes per inch
The Lacework background pattern was stitched with brown silk after the bird design was completed.
A Birthday Wish 1895
Size 8" w x 10.5" h
20 holes per inch
It is unusual to find a large Lacework project in one piece. The pattern has been made by cutting away the paper.
May your life today and ever
sweetly calm and peaceful be
Like some clear and silvery river
Joyous rolling to the sea.
A Victorian needlework technique of repeating geometric patterns so that
they resemble lace. The examples shown here were all worked on
attached to a green silk ribbon
The pattern has been made by
cutting away the perforated paper.