Book Review — Needle-Made Laces and Net Embroideries

June 21, 2008 at 8:33 pm | Posted in Book Review, Lace | Leave a comment

While browsing the market stall of an antiquarian bookseller who specializes in textile books, I came across a curious book and just had to take it home: Needle-Made Laces and Net Embroideries by Doris Campbell Preston was originally published in 1938. The amazon link above goes to the 1984 reprint, which is also what I bought.

I find this book very interesting not so much in the actual description of different lace and lace-like crafts, but in the choice of content. From the preface:

My aim therefore is to deal with such methods as, while characteristic of the old crafts, may be practically adapted to modern requirements.

In practice that means using all the advancements of technology, like machine-made nets and braids, to imitate the effect of old lace while taking less time to get to the result. As the title says, bobbin-lace is not included, but there are some crafts included that are not made with a needle. Here’s a list of the techniques presented in the book:

  • Needle-run Lace (as in this illustration from The Art of Modern Lace-Making)
  • Tambour Work
  • Carrickmacross Lace (see Book Review for more detail)
  • Irish Crochet
  • Reticella Work (for an example see this post)
  • Princess Lace (basically appliqué of machine-made braid on machine-made net)
  • Modern Needle-Point Laces (using the braids without the net and connection with lace stitches)
  • Filet Lace
  • Tatting

As you see, that’s quite a long list for a short (159 pages) book. So by necessity, the introduction to the different techniques is quite short. It’s rather an overview over what’s possible than a thorough guide, so if you’re interested in learning any of the crafts listed, this is not the right book for you. While reading, you get the distinct feeling that needle-point lace is on its way out, basically because it’s too time-consuming for the hobbyist to make. I see this as an interesting historical document, showing the views on lace-making as they were in 1938, and that’s where its worth lies for me.


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