Painting by Cornelis de Vos, 17th Century (Art in Flanders)
When it became fashionable in the 16th century to show off the white collars of the shirts on the sleeves or collars, it became a logical step to decorate those edges of the fabric. Initially with embroidery and drawn work, later lace was 'invented'. A woven fabric was no longer worked, but a textile was woven from the first time with an artful hole pattern, that could be done with a needle (needle lace) or bobbins (bobbin lace). Flanders in general and Bruges in particular became quickly a well-known center for bobbin lace. Also in the later centuries hand made lace stayed fashionable.
Bruges in the 19th century was once a city full of poverty. The women (and often also children) in poor families try to earn some extra income by making lace at home. Lace making was a home industry, and was never made on an industrial scale in Bruges. The decline of handmade bobbin lace started when machines were invented that could weave lace. In addition, lace was no longer considered an essential part of fashion a few decades later. There was less and less demand for handmade bobbin lace.
postcard late 19th century
lace demonstration 1960's
In Bruges, for a long time, women still made lace on the street as a demonstration for visitors to the city, but that has also disappeared recently. I would like to mention that there are still people making bobbinlace in Bruges, the tradition is still being continued, but only as a hobby.
In contrast to Bruges, people in East Germany developed an industrial production of machine lace. There they invented impressive machines that can make beautiful machine lace. Patterns are embroidered on a piece of fabric that is then later dissolved through a chemical process, so that only the embroidery remains. It is a process that still requires a lot of manual labor and skill. The lace ornaments sold in the shop are all machine made in Germany.
about making machine lace
window decoration "heart"
Window decoration "Owl"