What Makes Love in Bloom Lace Special

This piece was part of the little trove of lace found at the Beaumarchais Flea Market in Paris that yielded the “Teeter Totter” lace featured in My Favorite Things and COPY THIS!. 

Angletere barbe over

Here’s the quick version of how I evaluate lace — in this case, a review of how i decided to buy this piece in the first. place.

I could not tell the overall design of the whole piece, or exactly what the condition would be because it was wadded up and dirty, and I did not have a lot of time to make a decision.

What I could tell was that the individual motifs were bobbin lace, well shaped with half-stitch and linen stitch defining the design, and enough raised detail to know they were well-made motifs.  I could tell the family of lace it was related to — Brussels or Duchesse — and that the design was somewhat unusual. There were no obvious “killer” stains.  If nothing else, the nice motifs could be rescued for reuse.

Once it was home and washed, I could better analyze it.  (for the story of getting it “shaped up” for it’s new life outside the flea market bin, see Use It Or Lose It “Mending Love in Bloom"}

What is it, and who cares?


One of the first questions I ask when evaluating a piece: Is it an object, and useful, or a fragment?

This is an object, and very useful.  It makes lovely headdress streamers, or lappets, and would be pretty for a bride.  It also wraps nicely around the shoulders as a scarf.  So it should be attractive to the fashion market.

A couple of things about the design attracted me.  It is of a much larger scale than eighteenth century Brussels lace but does have elements that hearken back.  The little flowers embedded in clothwork (pink in the photo) is such an example. The cascade of hearts, and the daffodil-like flowers (pale yellow in the photo) also make it different from the typical 19th century Brussels/Duchesse flowers, swags, and scrolls.

The technique - Brussels bobbin lace motifs in a kind of point de gaze ground, sometimes known as Point de Angleterre, might also make it attractive to collectors.

Angleterre barbe COLOR CODE

I always find it useful to use the COMBO method (thoroughly discussed in Guide to Lace and Linens) as a way of carefully looking at every aspect of the lace, and finding all the clues that are available.  These aspects are Clothwork, Outline (or edge of all the clothwork areas)  Mesh, Bridges (two methods of providing a background to the lace) and finally Ornament. 

Clothwork: linen stitch (pale orange shading in the photo) , or whole stitch and half-stitch (pale green).

Outline: cord gimp (Bright green lines) outlines the motifs and helps define the design, as in the scallops along the edge of the hearts.  Raised (Bright orange lines) work also emphasizes elements and outlines the design.

Mesh: (Pale blue in the photo) The mesh also is a bit different from the usual point de gaze background mesh.  Perhaps because of the large scale of the flowers, and the resulting need for a somewhat larger scale mesh, the are extra twists in the buttonhole stitches that create the mesh.

Bridges are not used in this lace.  

Ornament:  Various fancy filling stitches (purple}, based on buttonhole stitch rings, or other needlework techniques, are very typical of Brussels laces. 

Quick summary: 

This piece scores above average in all the key categories:  Design, workmanship and technique, condition, and rarity.   It is a very nice piece, although not so high above average that it becomes a museum piece.  That makes it a really good candidate to serve as an ambassador representing vintage lace to new audiences in today’s world.  This is a piece that should be out and about, showing off what made vintage lace special.  It also is relatively sturdy, able to withstand a few parties.

Good pieces should be seen and enjoyed.


Published February 2014

lacecurator@gmail.com  www.lacemerchant.com      219-659-1124    Elizabeth Kurella 2014