Brussels lace is made in pieces, with the flowers and design made separate from the ground, unlike Mechlin lace or Valenciennes lace; because of this, the long threads that form the design always follow the curves of the pattern, whereas in bobbin laces made all at once, the threads are parallel to the length of the lace. Brussels lace is also distinguished by its réseau or background, the toilé or pattern, and the lack of a cordonnet outlining the pattern. The réseau is hexagonal, with four threads plaited four times on two sides, and two threads twisted twice on the remaining four sides. The toilé can be of two types, the standard woven texture like a piece of fabric, or a more open version with more of the appearance of a netted réseau. This allows for shading in the designs, an effect that was used more in the later designs. In Brussels lace, instead of a cordonnet, the pattern is edged with open stitches, which are then picked up to form the réseau.
Brussels lace is well known for its delicacy and beauty. Originally it was only made from the finest spun linen thread, which was spun in dark damp rooms to keep the thread from becoming too brittle. Only one ray of light was allowed into the room, and it was arranged so that it fell upon the thread. This fine thread is part of what prevented mechanizing the process of making Brussels lace, as well as the production of it in other regions, as it could not be bought anywhere else. It was also what made the lace so costly. Brussels lace cost more than Mechlin lace, and was in high demand in England and France.
France also had regulations forbidding the importation of foreign lace, so the Brussels lace sold in France was sold under this name. To this day all Brussels lace is called Point d'Angleterre in France. The ladies in the court of Louis XV really liked this lace.
When the prohibition ended in 1699, Brussels lace began to become popular again. Queen Anne bought a lot of it, despite the high price. In the courts of George I and George II the lace became very popular, despite efforts to encourage native lacemaking. It was used on ruffles, lappets, and flounces. Individual pieces were large, they were made of many one-inch to two and a half-inch pieces, sewn together seamlessly. This type of lace was made until the French Revolution.
This type can be distinguished from handmade net, as often the net is not cut away behind the appliqued design, thus the net can be seen on the back of the design. Also, the machine-made net was made of diamond shaped mesh, rather than the hexagonal réseau.
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