Nottingham Lace Story

Elizabeth -  “The truth surrounding “Nottingham Lace”

From the early/mid 1800 Nottingham became THE hotbed for Machine Made Lace with exports world-wide), this continued until the industry’s demise with the onset of the war years.

It should be noted that the true and original Nottingham Lace Machines  were “14 point” and have 17920 threads. They were 8 Metres long, and if one thread unfortunately breaks the whole machine is stopped, while the damaged thread is located and replaced. ( costly – yet there was no other answer ).

Nottingham lace is usually referred to as  “Leavers”and / or “Cluny”  although later the operation of Nottingham Lace manufacturing, also began to include/utilised the “Rachel” technique

However, even though manufacturing numbers are dramatically reduced today, several highly reputable, specialist manufacturers/suppliers of “world renowned Nottingham Lace” still operate today, with one single yet reputable manufacturer actually based in Scotland

It is from individual styles of lace manufacturers, which we access the quality materials used within our collections and are offer DIRECT to the consumer

“Nottingham  is  also theperfect place for the"finishing" of lace,as the city and area is  built on “bunter sandstone”, this physical environment and location creates the “brightest” water, free from all organic matter, yet containing Chlorine and Ammonia. These two natural constituents present in the water, assist greatly the bleaching and cleaning process which produces "quality finishing"

“Nottingham Lace is famous world-wide. Yet of the two processes necessary to the manufacture of machine-made lace – making and finishing - only the latter was solely concentrated in Nottingham. The functions needed to convert the large dirty webs of lace from the factories into the fine, finished fabric so beloved by the Victorians and Edwardians were to be found in numerous locations in the Nottingham conurbation. Hence, the famous Nottingham lace girls in their pristine white blouses and long skirts thronging the streets of Nottingham’s Lace Market were but a part of the finishing section of the industry and not the actual makers of lace” ( ref Sheila A Mason)

Today the Nottingham's lace industry is compact, with a small numbers of individual specialist supplier/provider companies -  our personal and business friends

“NOTTINGHAM LACE IS THE GENERIC ORIGINAL”

IT IS and has been THE BRAND LEADER for 200 YEARS

***Nottingham's lace is copied and imitated in countries world-wide, and offered as authentic . Do not be mislead..***

Nottingham is a City built on its Lace Making heritage. Illustrated are several buildings which are known as the “Nottingham Lace Market” we will continue to perpetuate this great heritage.

The world trade in lace was centred in and around Nottingham. It's reputation for innovation and the creating of machine made lace was unequalled and envied world-wide.

The “Nottingham Lace Market” attracted Buyers from all over the world and is a multiplicity of huge and impressive purpose designed warehouses and now designated a “conservation area” of National significance.

The huge Victorian buildings, the culture, skills and ingenuity of generation on generation is testament to the unique Lace Heritage of Nottingham and the surrounding areas.

However now-a-days manufacturing and production have moved on a pace. Gone are the huge major lace manufacturing companies and machinery. The vast majority of these huge buildings , whilst still in existence, have now been converted and adapted to a 21st lifestyle

Today’s Nottingham Lace industry still exists, but it is no longer the colossus of old,  yet todays genuine product, lacks none of its historical quality, persisting as a truly “specialised niche” industry serving/providing customers world-wide products with genuine individuality

Why settle for a lesser alternative?. Nottingham Lace was and still is created with the past skills and ingenuity with a current generation which is also “generic”......


Elizabeth -  “The truth surrounding “Nottingham Lace”

Nottingham Lace is world renowned for quality and individuality


It is based upon the invention of a John Leavers.

Throughout the last two hundred years “Cluny Lace” in particular has combined the best of old traditions with new technology in producing exquisite designs of Leavers “Cluny”“lace all-overs, etc”

For those with a historic or mechanical interest a Leavers machine is in fact two machines; a wide machine working on the principle invented by Mr. John Leavers in 1813 twist together the threads to form a fast net, PLUS a jacquard machine - adapted for use on the Leavers machines sometime between 1836 and 1841. This include the facility and opportunity to create individual patterns.

The jacquard machine is attached to the Leavers machine by 60 < 160 steel bars - each 4 thousands of an inch in thickness. It is via these steel bars that the warp threads are threaded at pre-determined intervals.

The instructions as to the movement of the steel bars/warp threads are given by a pack of laced cardboard cards punched with holes which revolve around a cylinder, -  this particular concept inspired modern computer technology. The lateral movement of these warp threads is held fast and twisted by the bobbin threads of the Leavers machine and turns the basic net appearance into exquisite patterns of beautiful Nottingham Lace

Elizabeth says.. .. OUR GUARANTEE

We have always been dedicated to supplying collections of Nottingham Lace products direct to the consumer at attractive prices, We implicitly guarantee, that all our materials/products are sourced from/with well established, “bona-fide”, Nottingham Lace  companies producing/supplying their Nottingham Lace products –

Your will be instantly aware that we base the wide choice of our adaptable Collections on the basis of today’s lifestyles. Both formal and informal dining tables can be dressed quite simply, often using matching Table Runners, Placemats and Napkins settings for both informally or fully formal dressings .

Todays manufacturing and production facilities have now moved on a pace. Gone are the huge major lace manufacturing companies and machinery The vast majority of these huge buildings , whilst still in existence, have now been converted and adapted to a 21st lifestyle and use

Today’s Nottingham Lace industry still exists, but is no longer the colossus of old, yet todays  genuine product, lack none of its historical quality and reputation, persisting as a truly “specialised niche” industry providing customers world-wide with products of genuine individuality

Why settle for a lesser alternative?......

Nottingham Lace was and still is created with the skills and ingenuity of a current generation, which is also “generic......”

The invention of machine made lace affordable to middle class homes. However it did offer an alternative and opportunity  for example – In 1889, the three sons of a successful English carpet weaver started a textile business in the USA. The three brothers imported lace looms from Nottingham, England to pursue their vision of producing machine made lace textiles. This  story is similarly repeated throughout many overseas countries – “Opportunists, purchasing “second hand” redundant “Nottingham Lace machines” from here in the UK exporting them and re-assembling to produce their product which they term as genuine Nottingham Lace.”.  .. Uumh!  “Handmade lace used to be a thing of luxury that only the wealthy could afford in their homes.

Yes just in case you missed it the first time ………………..

“Handmade lace used to be a thing of luxury that only the wealthy could afford in their homes. The invention of machine made lace affordable to middle class homes. However it did offer an alternative and opportunity  for example – In 1889, the three sons of a successful English carpet weaver started a textile business in the USA. The three brothers imported lace looms from Nottingham, England to pursue their vision of producing machine made lace textiles. This  story is similarly repeated throughout many overseas countries – “Opportunists, purchasing “second hand” redundant “Nottingham Lace machines” from here in the UK exporting them and re-assembling to produce their product which they term as genuine Nottingham Lace.”.  ..   Uumh

The story can be repeated in several European countries also. But the results are always the same – imitations of the original  

 

Identifying Handmade and Machine Lace

The main types of hand and made machine lace

There are two basic types of hand-made lace:

needle lace which is created by using a needle and thread and variations on buttonhole stitch and

bobbin lace which is made by twisting and plaiting a large number of threads, each wound onto and weighted by a bobbin, on a stuffed pillow (the terms bobbin and pillow lace are interchangeable).

There are four families of lace machine:

1). The stocking frame, invented by William Lee in Calverton, Nottinghamshire, in 1589, to knit stockings. Unlike the hand knitter who knits one loop at a time, the stocking frame knits a row of loops in one operation on hooked needles. In the 1760s, with various adaptations, the stocking frame made lace by transferring stitches from one needle to another. Robert Frost made the first surviving piece of Nottingham lace by using a carved wooden cylinder to dictate the transfer of stitches. Later, a perfect net was made on the stocking frame and embroidered for sale.

A cousin of the stocking frame is the warp frame, invented in the 1770s. Instead of the stocking frame's horizontal row of needles and loops, it had vertical columns of loops which zigzagged to interconnect. It proved a very versatile machine; modern equivalents making not only fabrics but „string'bags for fruit and vegetables.

The Raschel machine was invented using the principles of the warp frame by A Barfuss in Germany in 1859. The Jacquard apparatus (see under Pusher machine below) was adapted to it in the 1870s. The Raschel machine could work at higher speeds than the Leavers machine and proved the most adaptable to the new synthetic fibres, such as nylon and polyester, in the 1950s. Most contemporary machine-made lace is made on Raschel machines.

2). The bobbinet machine, invented by John Heathcoat in Loughborough, Leicestershire, in 1809,makes a perfect copy of Lille or East Midlands net (fond simple, a six-sided net with four sides twisted, (two crossed). The machine uses flat round bobbins in carriages to pass through and round vertical threads. John Heathcoat moved his factory to Tiverton in Devon in the 1820s. Much expanded, it still makes net.

The Pusher machine is a variation of Heathcoat's machine, created by Samuel Clark and James Mart in 1812. It takes its name from the rods which pushed the carriages through the machine. TheJacquard apparatus (a system of cards punched with holes invented for the weaving loom by J MJacquard in France in about 1800) was adapted to it in 1839 but it could only make the pattern and the net. The outline had to be put in by hand or later, by embroidering machine. Nottingham stopped making Pusher lace probably in the early 20th century but it continued being made in France.

The Leavers machine is an adaptation of Heathcoat's machine by John Levers (the a' was added to aid pronunciation in France) in Nottingham in 1813. The original machine made net but it was discovered that the Jacquard apparatus (invented in France for weaving looms by J M Jacquard in about 1800) could be adapted to it. From 1841 lace complete with pattern, net and outline could be made on the Leavers machine. The Leavers machine is probably the most versatile of all machines for making patterned lace. Leavers lace was Nottingham's chief lace product until recently. Now there is only one British firm (not actually in Nottingham) which still makes it.

The lace curtain machine, invented by John Livesey in Nottingham in 1846 was another adaptation of John Heathcoat's bobbinet machine. It made the miles of curtaining which screened Victorian and later windows. Nottingham stopped making lace curtains in the 1980s and curtain lace in the 1990s.  

3). The hand-embroidery machine was invented by Joshua Heilman in Mulhouse, France in 1828. It used pincers both sides of a piece of fabric, needles pointed at both ends, and single lengths of thread. A hand-operated pantograph dictated the movements of the needles which were grabbed by the pincers and pushed through the fabric. It makes a perfect copy of hand embroidery except that all the pattern repeats are identical. Lace is made by embroidering on machine-made net or on a fabric which is dissolved away by chemicals („chemical' lace) or burned away by heat („burnt out' lace).

The Schiffli embroidery machine was invented by Isaac Groebli in 1865. It uses two lengths of thread one on one face of the fabric, one in a shuttle on the other, to make a lockstitch. Like Heilman's machine it's movements were originally dictated by a hand-operated pantograph. Most embroidered laces are made using the Schiffli machine either on net or a soluble fabric.

Nottingham, Plauen in Germany and St Gallen in Switzerland make a lot of machine embroidered laces.

4). The Barmen machine was developed in the 1890s in Germany from a braiding machine. Its bobbins imitate the movements of the bobbins of the hand-made lace maker and it makes perfect copies of torchon and the simpler hand-made laces. It can only make one width at a time and does not have the pattern potential of the Leavers machine.

 

Other techniques used for making lace 

Crochet; made with a hooked needle, the basic stitch is a chain; used for all sorts of dress and furnishing trimmings; the finest is known as „Irish crochet' no matter where it was made; imitated by Schiffli machine 

Knitting; by hand; made by dropping and picking up loops; used occasionally for children's dress and underwear trimmings; sometimes used for furnishings 

Tatting; made with a shuttle and sometimes a pin and ring; it is characteristically made in rings or ovals, often edged with small loops; rather limited in pattern, usually used for collars and cuffs, but sometimes also as mats