Friday, 29 April 2016

Lace curtain design

I’ve been reading about early twentieth century curtain design and realise that there is a lot more to it than just designing a pretty pattern! The design has to be economical which means it has to be suitable for the machine that will be used to produce it and the pattern repeat must not be too long because that would cause wastage when matching patterns to make a pair of curtains. The ‘scaffolding’ of the pattern also has to be considered carefully – you have to have a framework to work on but in most cases it should not be obvious to the viewer, so consider whether the design is making lines or shapes that aren’t intended. Many curtain patterns make use of the turnover, which is when one side is folded over to form a mirror image of the other, but this can look clumsy unless done skilfully. In many cases adding single centre panel eases the design as shown in the image above. I now need to look at some curtains from the time to see how these rules were put into practice.

Friday, 22 April 2016

Exhibition preparation

I’ve just bought a long length of cloth to cover the tables at the venue for my next exhibition – the LQ&N fair at Peterborough on 8 May - where I’ll be showing a selection of my lace. It’s always difficult deciding what colour to choose as a background for a mixed exhibition of that type. Dark blue seems to be the choice of many people who exhibit traditional white lace, but that doesn’t always work with coloured lace. Grey is a colour that goes well with much of my lace but it doesn’t have much impact from a distance. I’ve also found that ivory works well but needs to be kept clean – finding a dirt mark when you arrive at an exhibition venue with no way of washing it out is not helpful. The type of material is also important as cotton creases easily, which can spoil the display. In the end I’ve gone for a black crepe jersey type of material which I hope won’t crease and will provide a reasonable background colour for most of the lace. That quantity of material is quite heavy though, which is fine for Peterborough as I’m driving to the venue, but it would eat into my weight allowance if I was flying abroad to exhibit.


Thursday, 14 April 2016

Advertising lace curtains

This image comes from a catalogue of lace curtains and Irish linen produced by William Whiteley’s London department store in 1907. Of course each curtain has to be described and the copywriter has come up with some exuberant descriptions for some of them. This one is just described as ‘Medallion border with trailing centre’ but others include ‘Very artistic reproduction of real lace’ and ‘A very dainty bijou curtain’. Clearly by the time he got to ‘Copy of real lace’ and ‘Imitation of real lace’ he was struggling to find something different to say! As well as the descriptions, an artist was also employed to draw the curtains, which must have been a skilled job as the images are very detailed and compare well with the sections of the catalogue that contains photographs.

Thursday, 7 April 2016


I’m a great fan of picots I like to use a few on an edging to give it a little bit of added interest. However when I make them by twisting two threads I always struggle to twist them together properly. Pam Nottingham says this happens ‘when the threads are tightened separately before the final twists are added’. Because of this, in my recent work, I’ve started using what I was taught to call false picots, but which Bridget Cook calls a knotted picot and Pam Nottingham terms ‘a picot using thick thread’. This involves looping one thread of a pair through the other to form a small loop, so knotted picot is a good description of it. Although it probably works best with thick thread it does stay firm and crisp in thin cotton and doesn’t cause the fanned out look of a double-thread picot that has become untwisted. You do need to twist the pairs after making the picot and continuing with the rest of the design though, to prevent leaving a hole beneath the picot. The lace in the image is an experimental piece I made a while ago, incorporating traditional twisted two thread picots and plaited loops making picot-like shapes.