HSF #2 – “A Fine and Flattering Fichu” – is finished!

copyright Daisuke Tomiasu 2003

copyright Daisuke Tomiasu 2003

It’s been dark, foggy and raining for the past days. So dark that I’ve had the front room lights turned on during the daytime AND had to wear my hiker’s headlamp to hand sew the black organdy double-ruffle with black thread. But it is finished and I LOVE IT!

HSF #2 - A Fine and Flattering Fichu

HSF #2 – A Fine and Flattering Fichu

Title: A Fine and Flattering Fichu

The Challenge:  #2 – Innovation: machine-made lace

Background and history:

The word lace is from Middle English, from Old French las, noose, string, from Vulgar Latin laceum, from Latin laqueus, noose; probably akin to lacere, to entice, ensnare.

In the late 16th century there was a rapid development in the field of lace. With the passage of time and an increasing demand in the market for lace, the way the world produced goods changed.

St. John Francis Regis (31 January 1597 – 30 December 1640) helped many country girls stay away from the cities, and aided disenfranchised women and prostitutes by training and establishing them in the lace-making and embroidery trades, which is why he became the Patron Saint of lace-making.

In 1768, John Heathcoat invented the bobbin net machine, which made the production of complex lace designs much easier and faster.  

Heathcoats' Bobbin-net lacemaking machine (Wikipedia)

Heathcoats’ Bobbin-net lacemaking machine (Wikipedia)

John Heathcoat's Tiverton Lace Manufactory, c.1836

John Heathcoat’s Tiverton (England) Lace Manufactory, c.1836

In 1837, Samuel Ferguson first used jacquard looms with Heathcoat’s bobbin net machine, resulting in endless possibilities for lace designs.

The term “machine lace” and chemical lace” are often used interchangeably, however they are not the same:

  • Machine-made lace includes any style of lace created or replicated using mechanical means.
  • With chemical lace, the stitching area is stitched with embroidery threads that form a continuous motif. Afterwards, the stitching areas are removed and only the embroidery remains. The stitching ground is made of water-soluble or non heat-resistant material.

Fabric: white muslin background

Pattern: Ageless Patterns #1530-2


Ageless Patterns #1530-2

Ageless Patterns #1530-2

Year: 1870

Notions: machine-made cotton laces, machine-made cotton-blend lace, machine-gathered black and white checked ribbon trim, machine-gathered black organdy trim, white and black thread, 1/8-inch sage green grosgrain ribbon edged in dark brown, needle, thimble, scissors, and assisted by many cups of hot tea.

How historically accurate is it? Very – taken from a vintage garment pattern with vintage instructions and created using vintage photographs for reference.

Hungarian woman wearing a beautiful fichu, c. 1870.

Hungarian woman wearing a beautiful fichu, c. 1870.

Hours to complete: Planning, playing, and dithering = 6+ hours. Final placement prep = 4 hours. Actual sewing time = 10 hours, maybe a tad more.

First worn: not yet worn

Total cost: $26.60 in lace. I already had the muslin, thread, and some white lace.


One thought on “HSF #2 – “A Fine and Flattering Fichu” – is finished!

  1. So gorgeous. 😀 Well worth all the work. And the striped dress you suggested on Facebook is exactly what I was thinking of, too. 😉

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