Ursula Karbacher

Textile Museum St Gallen and ICOM Costume Committee member


The field of lace is very complex and not easy to grasp. Here some principal types which may be found on dress.

For the history of lace, see “Exhibition St Gall”




Bobbin Lace

Plaited openwork fabric made with bobbins, creating a network of threads formed into any design with ground or bars. When the bobbins are worked without patterns and with only very few pins (at the edges), they are called freehand bobbin lace.


Crochet Lace

A hand or machine method, using a hook to interlock and to loop stitches to create patterns


Cutwork and Needlework (is in fact more embroidery than lace)

Cutwork is a needlework technique, which requires the drawing out of threads or the cutting away of portions of the textile. The open spaces are reinforced and filled with embroidery or needle lace.


Filet Lace (is in fact embroidery)

Knotted loops worked in rows, created with a netting needle and continuous thread. The net made like this can also be decorated with embroidery stitches.


Knitted Lace

Knitting technique using a variety of holes which create design of patterns



Knotting technique made with free-end threads, creating patterns and forms using a variety of knots.


Needle Lace

Openwork created with a needle using mainly buttonhole and twisted buttonhole stitches, creating any type of design and ground.


Tatting Lace

A knotted lace worked with the fingers and a shuttle.




The 19th century saw the development of machine lace which was capable of cleverly imitating handmade lace and thus undercutting its cost.


Chemical lace (is in fact embroidery)

In burnt-out embroidery, the ground material for the embroidery is burnt out (dissolved with acid) and only the embroidery remains. Since 1950 also called “guipure”



A warp-knitted lace similar to crochet or knitting



A machine lace with warp and bobbin threads


© Photos: Textile Museum St Gallen; Anna-Tina Eberhard St Gallen, Michel Rast, St Gallen; Tobias Siebrecht, St Gallen; Jürg Zürcher, St Gallen

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