What Is Battenburg Lace?

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Traditional handmade lace
Traditional handmade lace (Image: romkaz/iStock/Getty Images)

Developed in the late 1800s and named after Queen Victoria's son-in-law, Battenburg lace gets its distinctive look by combining machine-woven tapes with hand stitching. The lace immediately became popular and helped revive the English lace-making industry. Hobbyists and home crafters soon pursued the art of making Battenburg lace on both sides of the Atlantic. Battenburg lace remains a popular embellishment for table linens, curtains and other housewares, as well as women's clothing and wedding gowns.

The Look of Battenburg Lace

The tapes used to make Battenburg lace form the structure of the design. Shapes resembling leaves, flowers and geometric figures are most common. The intricate stitches holding the tapes together often resemble mesh, netting or webs punctuated by embroidered rings. You can purchase Battenburg lace yardage to use in your own sewing projects.

Making Battenburg Lace

Battenburg lace tape is available for making your own lace, following either a design of your own or a vintage or commercial pattern. Baste the tape to the paper pattern and use cotton embroidery floss to stitch the folds of tape together. Unlike the original tapes, modern lace tapes have long threads embedded in their edges. Pull the threads around the folds and bends in the design to gather the edge and make a neat curve. Another modern method uses machine embroidery on a water-soluble stabilizer; when the embroidery is complete, you soak it in water to dissolve the stabilizer and release the lace.

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