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The Victoria & Albert Museum
“Portraits of women in the 1630s show elaborate ensembles of accessories trimmed with bobbin lace, including two or more collars layered on each other as well as kerchiefs and cuffs. Flemish bobbin lace dominated fashion in the period, its draping qualities complementing the style of dress worn. Light and delicate, made with finer thread and more open patterns than Italian lace, it was ideally suited for such use. The linen parts of the collar and cuffs would have required more frequent washing than the lace edgings. The latter were regularly unpicked and sewn to freshly laundered collar and cuffs. Such a translucent quality of linen, very finely pleated and sewn with tiny stitches and extremely thin sewing thread, is characteristic of 17th century linens.
This collar and cuffs may well have formed part of a larger lace ensemble. The lace is made in the bobbin lace technique used for Flemish lace, but its design and the type of thread suggests that it was probably made in England. The quality of English lace in the 17th century was affected by the type of linen thread available. English thread was softer and more irregular than Flemish, though it was praised for its whiteness. Custom for it was at the highest social level. The Countess of Leicester, wife to the English Ambassador to France, was commissioned to purchase English bobbin lace as a present for Anne of Austria, the French Queen, in 1637 and complained of the considerable expense.”