Originally linen, silk, gold, or silver threads were used. Now lace is often made with cotton thread, although linen and silk threads are still available. Manufactured lace may be made of synthetic fiber. A few modern artists make lace with a fine copper or silver wire instead of thread.
There are many types of lace, classified by how they are made.
- [[LINK|lang_en|Needle_lace|Needle lace]], such as Venetian Gros Point, is made using a needle and thread. This is the most flexible of the lace-making arts. While some types can be made more quickly than the finest of bobbin laces, others are very time-consuming. Some purists regard needle lace as the height of lace-making. The finest antique needle laces were made from a very fine thread that is not manufactured today.
- [[LINK|lang_en|Cutwork|Cutwork]], or whitework, is lace constructed by removing threads from a woven background, and the remaining threads wrapped or filled with embroidery.
- [[LINK|lang_en|Bobbin_lace|Bobbin lace]], as the name suggests, is made with bobbins and a pillow. The bobbins, turned from wood, bone, or plastic, hold threads which are woven together and held in place with pins stuck in the pattern on the pillow. The pillow contains straw, preferably oat straw or other materials such as sawdust, insulation styrofoam, or ethafoam. Also known as Bone-lace. Chantilly lace is a type of bobbin lace.
- [[LINK|lang_en|Tape_lace|Tape lace]] makes the tape in the lace as it is worked, or uses a machine- or hand-made textile strip formed into a design, then joined and embellished with needle or bobbin lace.
- Knotted lace includes macramé and tatting. Tatted lace is made with a shuttle or a tatting needle.
- [[LINK|lang_en|Crocheted_lace|Crocheted lace]] includes Irish crochet, pineapple crochet, and filet crochet.
- [[LINK|lang_en|Lace_knitting|Knitted lace]]
- [[LINK|lang_en|Chemical_lace|Chemical lace]]
The origin of lace is disputed by historians.
The late 16th century marked the rapid development of lace, both needle lace and bobbin lace became dominant in both fashion as well as home décor.
Lace was used by clergy of the early Catholic Church as part of vestments in religious ceremonies but did not come into widespread use until the 16th century in the northwestern part of the European continent. The popularity of lace increased rapidly and the cottage industry of lace making spread throughout Europe.
The English diarist Samuel Pepys often wrote about the lace used for his, his wife's, and his acquaintances' clothing, and on 10 May 1669, noted that he intended to remove the gold lace from the sleeves of his coat "as it is fit [he] should", possibly in order to avoid charges of ostentatious living.
Catherine of Aragon while exiled in Ampthill, England, was said to have supported the lace makers there by burning all her lace, and commissioning new pieces. This may be the origin of the lacemaker's holiday - Cattern's day. On this day (25 or 26 November) lacemakers were given a day off from work, and Cattern cakes - small dough cakes made with caraway seeds, were used to celebrate.
Patrons and lace makers
- Giovanna Dandolo 1457–1462
- Barbara Uthmann 1514–1575
- Morosina Morosini 1545–1614
- Federico de Vinciolo sixteenth-century
- Lacemaker (unidentified) in painting by the Dutch artist Johannes Vermeer (1632–1675), completed around 1669–1670.