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    Bruges and lace : a marriage rooted in history

  • Bruges and Lace

    Lace was born in the 16th century.  At first mothers would teach their daughters to make bobbin lace;  lace schools were soon opened everywhere.  In Bruges there were various large lace schools, such as the Foereschool and the Apostoline Sisters’ lace school.  If the teaching of lacemaking started out as a means of giving poor households the means of earning a living, over the centuries it evolved into preserving a unique pastime.  However, lace and lace history are also particularly important for tourism in the town.  The lace sector is still today one of the contributors to tourism to which the municipal authorities pay particular attention.

  • The Kantcentrum: thanks to the Apostoline Sisters

    The Kantcentrum originates in the Apostoline Sisters’ lace school.  The nuns founded the Kantcentrum bzw (not-for-profit organisation) in 1970 in order to give new impetus to lace teaching.  Two years later the not-for-profit organisation restarted the lace school.  Meantime the sisters had disappeared from the organisation.  In 2014 the Kantcentrum moved from the historic convent buildings on the Adornes estate into the Apostolines’ former lace school (on the same estate).  The Kantcentrum now delivers lace courses, runs its own publishing house for books and lace patterns and organises lace workshops.  It has brought out its own lace magazine in 4 languages since 1978 and organises lace teacher training.  The Kantcentrum has evolved into a centre of excellence for lace in its widest sense which has a worldwide reputation.


  • Basic stitches

    Cloth stitch: cross, twist, cross

    Half stitch: cross, twist

    Whole stitch and twist: cross, twist, cross, twist

  • Binche

    Lace group:    continuous lace

    Origin:            evolved in the 17th century from Old Flemish continuous lace

    Ground:          many snowflakes and confusing ground with all kinds of réseaux

    ‘Close’ areas:  cloth stitch, here and there an accent in half stitch

    Designs:          abstract; concealed, repetitive motifs; flowers; stems; animals

    Decorative features:  decorative grounds; picots on the edge, scalloped edges or footside; “toveressenwerk” (witch lace/point de fée/fairy stitch) when there are very many square tallies and when worked with very fine thread.


  • Blonde

    Lace group: continuous thread

    18th century lace

    Ground: reseau of fragile tulle

    Motifs: colth stitch with workers in thick silk, give a satin sheen

    Designs: flowers, festoons of leaves

    Decorations: small openings and ornamental filling stitches

  • chantilly


    Lace group: continuous thread

    Appeared first in the region of Chantilly in the 18th century

    Made of black silk thread, more rarely of white silk

    Ground: lille reseau

    Motifs: halfstitch defined by a decorative gimp

    Designs: floral sprays, large pieces of lace being worked in sections and invisibly joined afterwards

    Decorations: delicate fillings within the motifs

  • Cluny

    Lace group: continuous thread

    Based on ancient cutwork from de Musée de Cluny

    Ground: plaited bars, brides

    Solid parts: wholestitch, halfstitch, wholestitch and twist

    Decorations: small picots, wheatears, venetian plaits

  • Point de Paris

    Lace group: continuous thread

    Originated around Paris in the 18th century

    Ground: hexagonal mesh ground

    Motifs: wholestitch outlined by a gimp

    Designs: flowers, leaves, garlands, animals

    Decorations: inner spaces of the motifs enriched with decorative fillings, rose ground, tallies, peas, bordered with picots

  • Torchon lace

    Lace group: continuous thread

    Simplest type of lace derived from its forerunners

    Ground: simple and composed reseaux

    Motifs: wholestitch, halfstitch, twisted stitch

    Designs: variety of geometric patterns

    Motifs: spiders, fans, palmettes, occasionally tallies and gimp thread

  • Fine Bruges Flower Work (Duchesse)

    Lace group:    part lace

    Origin:            evolved from 18th century Brabant and Brussels part lace and can be seen as                 a revival of Old Flemish part lace which dates from the mid-19th century.

    Ground:          the parts are often linked with plaits, with or without picots.

    ‘Close’ areas:  alternating cloth stitch and half stitch

    Designs:          very typical small flowers, trefoils, stems, leaves and small ball shapes

    Decorative features:  gimp surrounding motifs, relief through raised veins, square tallies as flower centres

    Brussels Duchesse always has a needle lace medallion (point de gaze) which is sewn into the lace.


  • Bruges Flower Work

    Lace group:    part lace

    Origin:            evolved from the 18th century Brabant and Brussels part laces.

    Ground:          plaits with or without picots, twisted pairs

    ‘Close’ areas:  motifs in cloth stitch, half stitch and cloth stitch with twist

    Designs:          flowers, leaves, stems,… swans and animal figures.  Usually the design contains natural elements or a natural scene.

    Decorative features:  leaf-shaped tallies, openings.

  • Valenciennes

    Lace group: continuous thread

    From the town of Valenciennes second half 17th century

    Ground: Bruges Valenciennes round meshes, Yper Valenciennes square meshes

    Solid parts: a continuous line of tiny holes outline part of the motifs

    Design: motifs borrowed from nature: flowers, leaves, garlands, animals

    Decorations: oeil-de-perdrix fillings, peas, bordered with picots

  • Flanders

    Lace group: continuous thread

    Result of slow evolution from the Flemish laces of the 17th century

    Reseau: five-hole ground or Flanders ground

    Motifs: wholestitch outlined by a gimp

    Designs: flowers, garlands, animals

    Decorations: partridge eyes, snowflakes, peas decorate the toilé and reseau, bordered with picots

  • Mechlin lace

    Lace group: continuous thread

    Originated in the 18th century

    Ground: hexagonal mesh “ijsgrond”

    Solid parts: wholestitch encircled with an outlining thread

    Motifs: borrowed from nature

    Decorations: square points d’esprit, decorative fillings in and between the flowers, bordered with picots

  • Point de Lille

    Lace group: continuous thread

    Simplified version of the Mechlin lace, popular in the second half of the 19th century

    Ground: hexagonal mesh “tule”

    Motifs: wholestitch surrounded by an outlining gimp

    Designs: mostly flowers

    Decorations: decorative fillings, eyelets in the motifs, rose ground, tallies, bordered with picots

  • Rosaline

    Lace group:    part lace

    Origin:            developed from Duchesse at the end of the 19th century and can be seen as a bobbin lace imitation of the 17th century Venetian needle lace with the same name.

    Ground:          bars of varying lengths with or without picots.

    ‘Close’ areas:  main motif is a small, 3 or 5 petal rose worked in cloth stitch with an eyelet.  In addition we find scrolls, small fish, beans, and leaves

    Designs:          garlands of small roses, floral scenes

    Decorative features: openings, light decorative grounds as well as point ground and honeycomb, a bit of half stitch.  Rosaline perlée has a “pearl” worked in needle lace in the centre of each small rose.