Tape Lace

Handkerchief with machine woven tape lace. UK, late 19th century. Handkerchief with machine woven tape lace. UK, late 19th century. Copyright Victoria and Albert Museum, London, UK, acc. no. T.228-1966.

Tape lace is a form of lace using either a hand made (with a bobbin) or a machine woven tape. The tape is folded into the required design and then fixed and embellished with connecting lace or embroidery stitches of various kinds. Tape lace is traditionally used for the corners, borders and centre piece of a table cloth, as well as for veils, dress collars, parasols, fans, handkerchiefs, napkins, doilies, and so forth.

The concept of tape lace originated in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries in Italy, notably in Genoa, Naples and Milan, where a type of lace known as mezzo punto was made. Mezzo punto was a lace partially made of bobbin or loom woven tapes and partly of buttonhole stitches.

The mid-nineteenth century saw a revival of this technique in Europe (especially England and Belgium) and America, using machine-woven tape, in the form of what became known as Renaissance lace

Tape lace was sometimes known as Luxeuil lace in France, after the town of Luxeuil where it used to be made. In Ireland it was sometimes called Irish lace. In the Netherlands the most common terms are lintjeskant or Brusselse kant.

Confusingly, the term Honiton lace is sometimes also used, especially in North America, to describe tape lace made from a machine-made tape. This is what is normally called Renaissance lace. The name of Honiton is used because in the late nineteenth century there was a brand of machine-made tape on the market called Honiton braid. 'Real' Honiton lace is made with bobbins.

In the late nineteenth century Renaissance lace was taken to Japan and later China, where it became known as Batten lace, after another name for tape lace, Battenburg lace. It has remained a popular lace form in Asia ever since.

By the late twentieth century there were four main forms of Renaissance lace: Battenburg tape lace, Branscombe lace, Brussels tape lace and Princess lace. Many of the late twentieth and early twenty-first century examples of tape lace objects, such as wedding parasols, table cloths, dollies and coasters are produced in China especially for foreign markets.

Sometimes, lengths of machine woven tape lace are sewn onto a net background. This type of Renaissance lace is called Princess appliqué lace or Brussels appliqué lace. Another form of Renaissance lace is Sardinian point, which uses a very fine machine made tape with little needlework embellishment. This form is also known as punto a vermicelli ('worm lace').


  • BEST, Dianna and Nancy HUGHES (1992), An Introduction to Battenburg Lace, Saskatchewan: Regina.
  • EARNSHAW, Pat (1982/1984). A Dictionary of Lace, Aylesbury: Shire Publications Ltd, pp. 168-169.

V&A online catalogue (retrieved 29 June 2016).


Last modified on Sunday, 18 September 2016 11:10
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