“Where there are nets there are weavers” – Portuguese saying. Weaving and lacing have first appeared in coastal areas, when men went out to the sea the women would stay ashore an occupy their time with weaving and lacing.
Lace is type of open fabric that consists of intertwined lines that create several different shapes, it can be made using linen, silk, cotton or even gold, and it can be done by hand or using a machine.
There are two main types of lace in Portugal, the Bobbin Lace and the Needlelace.
The Bobbin Lace is achieved by handling numerous threads, each attached to a Bobbin and worked on top of the pricking pattern which is pinned to a lace pillow. Bobbins are turned wooden objects that have one edge shaped like an elongated pear or like a sphere and the other edge has the thread, which will unroll as the work progresses. The pricking pattern contains a decal of a drawing and itis usually a cardboard painted in saffron colour to make the lacer’s job easier.
Needlelace is made by intertwining threads using a needle with simple or complex stitches which will later create a pre-set shape or pattern.
The origin is yet unsure, although there is no agreement about the theme, it is generally believed that the Bobbin Lace first appeared in Flanders (part of Belgium) and the Needlelace in Venice.
Initially, the use of laces was limited to the cloaks of the clergy and royalty, usually used as trimmings made of silver or gold. During the 17th and 18th centuries, lacing starts to be used in other accessories as ornament, namely in hair pieces, aprons and dresses. The use of lace became a symbol of power and social status. The quality and quantity of lacing that decorated the garment would be directly related to the social position of the wearer. During the French Revolution, the use of lace suffered a decline since it was associated to the enemy of the revolution: luxury and ostentation. However, after the Revolution lacing returned to its position of social distinction. IN the early 19th century lacing is commonly used in dresses, veils, coats, gloves, umbrellas, scarves, among many others.
Before the 19th century, lacing used to be made using linen threads, but cotton became much more popular which made lacing cheaper and therefore less elitist. The popularity of lacing would meet its decline in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
During most part of the 20th century lacing was associated to the production of lingerie and wedding dresses. Nowadays, lacing is taking back its rightful place in the Fashion Universe. In the hats and baskets of Girl Love Hats, lacings are a constant, imprinting a very romantic and feminine look.