If you ask anyone at Farmhouse Fabrics what Miss Sally’s favorite type of lace is, we would all know the answer immediately: Maline lace. In fact, we all happen to share her opinion. As far as lace goes, no other kind can match the delicate designs or dainty patterns. It’s not only the look of Maline that we love, but it is also the history and the facts behind this special trim. When you know interesting facts about an item, it seems to become more precious, don’t you think?
Maline lace is a French lace but it originated in Mechlin, Belgium. It is sometimes referred to as “Mechlin lace”. It is categorized as a pillow lace because historically it was hand-made on a pillow using bobbins. Each thread used to weave the lace would be attached to a wooden bobbin and the lace would be woven by crossing the bobbins in a pattern and pinning the threads on the pillow. The thread to make the background part of the lace (known as the “groundwork”) would be done in a finer thread than that which was used to weave the design on the lace. You can see how this would be an incredibly time-consuming process! One of the distinguishing features of Maline lace is that the designs are woven at the same time as the groundwork. Other laces such as Alencon lace would be made by first weaving the groundwork and then separately creating lace motifs which are later sewn onto the background piece.
Laces are put into categories by “points” and the higher the number the more special your lace is. Maline lace is a 15 point lace, the less expensive (but still quite lovely) French laces are considered 12 point laces, and the lace you would find at a local craft store might not even make it on the point scale. Any time you lay an inferior lace beside a Maline lace you can immediately see the difference in quality and craftsmanship. Maline lace brings an elegant yet delicate quality to any garment.
Maline lace has been recognized for its dainty beauty for hundreds of years. The story has it that in the late 1600s, Queen Anne of Great Britain enforced an embargo of lace made in France, but made an exception for Maline lace! It was worth it to this sovereign queen to break her ban on French laces just so she and her subjects could get their hands on some stunning Maline lace! Maline lace is also fairly well known. Just the other day I was reading a book by British author Agatha Christie and it briefly described a character’s blouse as being “trimmed with Mechlin lace”. I was pretty proud of myself for knowing exactly what that was 🙂
Today we still love the delicate look of Maline lace. It is the ideal trim for sweet christening gowns and delicate Easter outfits. One of the lace experts we speak with calls Maline lace the “Rolls Royce of laces”, which we find to be pretty apt! Even with all the advances we have made in technology since the 1600s, the process of making Maline lace is still very slow and painstaking. It is still woven using the very finest thread, but it is no longer done by hand. Maline lace is now made on machines, and while that sounds like it should be fast and easy, the fact is that there are only two machines in the WORLD that make Maline lace.
It is well known that when something is rare it is therefore precious. Well what about if it is rare, beautiful, and famous? That’s exactly what Maline lace is and we love it for all those reasons and a few more besides! Learning about the history and the manufacturing process of this beautiful lace just makes us more excited when we get to handle this delicate trim. As if we needed another reason to love our lace!