Bobbi Chase is a needlework designer with a passion for making Princess Lace. I first “met” Bobbi when I started embroidering a needlebook that she designed. Bobbi operates a website called Embellishments One, which is devoted to Princess Lace. (The website isn’t entirely complete yet, but do bookmark it for future reference!)
I was delighted when Bobbi agreed to write an article introducing Princess Lace. I have long wanted to undertake another embroidery on tulle project, and whenever I start meandering through the books, I invariably come across Princess Lace, a technique I’ve never actually tried. Bobbi teaches on the subject of Princess Lace, so it’s great to have an introduction from an expert!
I do not even know where to begin. Instead of taking up space with my “personal story” I am just going to launch into talking about something I have been doing/teaching for the past 25 years. I am passionate about all types of needlework, and Princess Lace is a really cool thing to have in one’s repertoire.
What is it? Princess lace is one style of tape lace made popular at the turn of the last century. It is similar to a more commonly recognized Battenburg lace, but is much fancier in appearance. Princess lace hardly merits the label “handmade,” but would more correctly be considered as “hand-assembled” from a variety of machine-made elements. The technique requires some time, but is well within the range of amateurs with minimal instruction.
Princess lace employs a combination of characteristic plain and fancy machine-made tapes and its design generally relies upon stylized flowers, scrolls, and medallions worked in “imitation” of traditional Duchesse or Brussels lace designs. Many examples can be found in old trunks and attics (bridal veils, children’s dresses, handkerchiefs, doilies, table runners).
There are myriad possibilities with Princess Lace to create exciting visual texture. These techniques also may help one to repair old laces, incorporate vintage pieces into new projects, and generally add to one’s basket of needlework “tricks”. One can use the ingredients in the traditional way and create lace motifs to use in projects OR one can creatively use its elements to do other types of embellishment.
The identifying feature of Princess Lace is the use of 8 particular styles of tapes (purchased by the yard). These tapes can be mounted on net (to more closely imitate “Duchesse” lace) or they can be held together with needlelace stitches (similar to Battenburg lace). Very different in appearance, and very different opportunities for embellishment, both styles are considered “Princess Lace” if they use these characteristic tapes.
The first 3 tapes are different styles of “edging” – that is, straight on one side and scalloped on the other. There is a “pull string” on the straight side so that you can gather and curve these edgings.
The next 2 are “straight tapes.” While similar to Battenburg, they are lighter in weight and appearance. These tapes have a “pull string” on BOTH sides, and can be curved in either direction.
There are two “leaf tapes”, and it is pretty obvious what they are designed for: leaves!! They are woven in such a way that you can cut between any two leaves and they will not ravel.
And the 8th tape is the “bubble (or ring) tape.” Miles of little circles strung together. These, too, are woven so as to be able to cut them apart without raveling.
These tapes are 100% cotton and most come in 3 colors: white, ecru, and black (they are dyeable).
Princess Lace is one of those endeavors where the results appear much more complex. It is deceptively easy! Here are a few photos to give you an idea of SOME of the possibilities.
If this is something that interests you, maybe we can talk Mary into going further into the subject. It really is fun! Honest!!
Methinks we should talk Bobbi into going further into the subject! >:-) (Forgive me a cruel chuckle!) Thank you, Bobbi!