Thursday, February 22, 2018

Lace Cuff - Scholar's Project #2

Bobbin Lace Linen Cuff
This past January, I presented three projects for the Barony of Seagirt's Scholar's trials. All were well received and accepted. The first of which was my bobbin lace cuff that was originally made for entry into Tir Righ's Arts & Sciences Championship way back in 2006. Unlike most contests, Scholar's applicants are encouraged to submit projects they have done in the past. So, I dusted off the lace and completely rewrote the documentation. It's amazing just how much things change - there is so much more information available now!

Detail of the bobbin lace cuff of Frances,
Lady Reynell by Robert Peake, 1595
The cuff I chose to make would have been in fashion from the late sixteenth-century to almost the mid seventeenth-century. It is a plain band with pointed bobbin lace, similar to the cuff of Lady Reynell (detail to the right).

The lace for the cuffs that I have made is adapted from a design in Le Pompe, 1559 Patterns for Venentian bobbin lace. This is one of the earliest pattern books for bobbin lace and was printed in Venice by Giovanni-Battista and Marchio Sessa, brothers who printed books for a publisher named Matio Pagano. In the introduction to the modern version of the book, author Santina M. Levey remarks that he was “... one of the most prolific publishers of pattern books”.

This pattern had the shape I was looking for complete with a pointed or scalloped edge, which many paintings of late sixteenth century clothing show. This pattern contained four repeats, and it was interesting to see that two contained picots, while two did not. Throughout the book, there are a few picots missing from patterns, and though these are mistakes forgotten by the designer, the absence of the picots in two entire repeats of the pattern may simply show the lace-maker two ways of completing the lace.

Original lace pattern from Le Pompe.

I altered the pattern slightly from the original. I wanted more points for the cuff to make it more like the lace I’d seen in paintings, and I did not like the way the thick bands looked between the points. In re-drawing the pattern, I also decided to make the lace stronger by altering one of the plaits and incorporating it into the point.

My altered lace pricking.

Detail of my lace with its tiny picots.
You can download my more detailed documentation here:

A Late Sixteenth-Century Bobbin Lace Edged Cuff

I am generally happy with the way the cuff turned out. The lace is tight, well tensioned and the picots nicely visible for the small size of thread used. One side was cut too close and unravelled a small section, so I fixed as best I could and it is fairly sturdy now - this part will not generally be seen as it is the underside of the cuff. For the next cuff, I will make the lace longer before ending. Though it will hold its shape fairly well, I am looking into how to properly starch the lace so that it will be more stiff before basting to a sleeve. The cuff took approximately 35+ hours to complete.