German Lacis Panel

A filet lace panel made using a 14th century German design, done in darning stitch using linen on commercial cotton netting.

There are many pieces of lacis (also called filet or darned net embroidery) that have survived from the 16th century. This, combined with the ready availability of Vinciolo’s pattern book and the known fondness of Catherine de Medici, his employer, for this style, has given many people the impression that this type of embroidery was not done before the 16th century. However, there are examples that go back at least as far as the beginning of the 14th century.

I charted the pattern for this piece from a photograph in Kroos of an altar cloth from about 1320-1330. It consists of alternating panels of counted embroidery and darned net, set in 3 rows of 4, with a wide border surrounding the whole piece. The detail photographs were clear enough to show that the ground was knotted and that darning rather than weaving stitch was used. The altar cloth is accession number 8709-1863 at the Victoria & Albert Museum.


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