What is lace fabric?
A fabric made by machine or hand, lace fabric is a delicate and beautiful textile, which has a distinct open web like pattern. Lace is a beautiful decorative textile, that is in a fabric family of its own. It can be made from any fibre, but the most common include; cotton, wool, silk, rayon, nylon, and polyester.
Lace consists of 2 elements:
The design - this is usually a floral pattern or a group, which creates the decorative and more solid part of the fabric
The ground fabric - this serves to hold the pattern together
Lace making can be dated as far back as the Bronze Age. Originally all lace was made by hand with bobbins or a needle. Handmade lace is one of the most complex and time-consuming textiles to produce. It requires very skilled labour; hence why it is also one of the most expensive materials.
How is it manufactured?
Lace is an open work fabric which consists of a network of yarns formed to create intricate, elaborate, and decorative designs. As well as being handmade in the traditional manner, or machine made, lace can also be produced with an intricate pattern scan.
It is made of fine yarns which are looped, twisted or knotted together in a variety of different lace constructions. Lace can be produced in piece form and as narrow fabric edgings. Elastane is often added for stretch and additional flexibility.There are 2 main groups of handmade lace:
- Needlepoint lace - handmade lace that has evolved from thread work and cutwork techniques. These are made by embroidering complicated designs with an embroidery needle onto a fabric base
- Bobbin or Pillow lace – made by twisting threads around pins to form the pattern. The yarns are plaited and twisted around many pins arranged in a design on hard cushions or pillows
There is also knitted lace. This has an open mesh structure, which is like traditional lace. It can be weft or warp knitted and comes in a variety of weights.
Purposes of lace fabric
Laces are made in different widths for different uses. Lace fabric for wedding dresses has always been a popular use for the textile. This is thanks to its romantic and feminine qualities, as well as its decorative aesthetic.
Lace fabric for curtains is another main purpose for lace. The delicate design and transparent composition give partial privacy, while still allowing in natural light and adding decoration.
This pretty fabric is an important trimming, ideal for everything from clothing and accessories to homeware. More purposes of lace are; table cloths, lace fabric for curtains, handkerchiefs, lingerie and clothing.
Lace fabric’s most distinct property is of course, the web like pattern in varying designs. Some other key properties and characteristics include:
- Does not unravel
- Becomes softer when washed
- Is made up of a web like design or pattern
- Some have no selvage
- Does not have a grainline
- Can shrink in hot water
- Most have vertical and horizontal patterns, which need to be matched
- Most have a one-way design
- Edges can be straight or curved
- Designs can be narrow or wide
Advantages of lace fabric
With its delicate and decorative nature, lace fabric for wedding dresses is a common style choice. Wedding lace fabric can add elegance and personality to a dress. It can be used in a more traditional way, to create modest and classic dresses, or in contemporary ways – such as in applique, veils, and detailing, as we see on the runways.
Using lace fabric for curtains has many advantages. From home décor to allowing privacy without blocking out day light. There is no wonder why lace curtain fabric has been such a popular interior trend for centuries.
Another advantage of lace is that is can be used for just about any clothing pattern. From casual t-shirts to lace fabric for wedding dresses. It also makes a wonderful applique or accent fabric for lingerie and nightgowns.