Old lace patterns at Luton Museum

Ugly mermaid Luton Culture

When I started learning how to make bobbin lace, I met a lady who had taught herself by carefully unpicking pieces of old lace, recording how they had been made and then reconstructing them.   Since then, I have found older lace interesting, not only in terms of the detailed designs but also the people who, like her, taught themselves how to make bobbin lace by copying, and in many cases adapting, the patterns around them.”

Luton Museum has one of the best collections of old lace patterns for Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire bobbin lace and the Curator of Textiles, Veronica Main, kindly allowed us to take a group of modern lacemakers to view the collections that are not on display.    During our visit, Veronica mentioned that she was struggling to find someone who could go though an original Lace Dealers Pattern Book to idetnify some of the lacemakers and designers and to recreate some of the original patterns…. challenge accepted!

We worked through the original book to see if it was possible to identify designers like Thomas Lester (father and son) or see if the same lacemakers had been used to make up the samples.   At first it seemed impossible, but after careful examination, we began to see that several of the designs had been made different lace makers; using different threads or fillings etc.

After three wonderful weeks of exploring the past, we collated all our copious notes, comments and findings, sent them back to Veronica at the museum.  Then we went back to our normal lives of teaching classes and workshops, attending lace days and suppliers fairs and sometimes fitting in a little housework until, out of the blue, came an invitation to the launch at Wardown Park Museum, Luton of this superb photographic source of old  Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire lace.  The photographs are so clear you can use them as a starting point for your own designs.

Pat and Barbara.

The Lace Dealer's Pattern Book

Mainly Lace are pleased to announce that Luton Museum have nominated us as the only other retailer of their new publication: The Lace Dealers Pattern Book.  This retails at £19.99  (including a DVD of detailed images) and is available on our website.

We hope that you enjoy looking through it as much as we enjoyed our part in the production of it.