The kicker about early period bobbin lace is not a lot of samples survived prior to the 1600s. We knew it was being made (pattern books), we knew it was being used on clothing (royal inventories, portraiture), but we don't many surviving pieces to look at - if anything survived, if was usually on an altar cloth that was lovingly preserved by the church. Because, church.
And the patterns used for altar cloths and pillows were not necessarily the same as would be used on clothing. This is where eyeballing portraits becomes more than just a passing fancy.
For instance, I'll point you towards the web presence of Kimiko Small - a lady who does a lot of Tudor costuming research:
The site owner speculates that the smock is edged in blackwork embroidery. I would counter that there is more flesh tone than white (blackwork would be embroidered on the white smock) showing through the pattern, which makes me lean more towards lace – could be needle or bobbin, cannot tell.
But it is all speculation :)
So, in order to make a guess at what patterns are appropriate for different applications, I found myself looking at some drool worthy period portraits - horrible, I tell you!
Another great resource for historical background and copies of portraiture in museums (not all of which have captured their full collections digitally) is Santina M. Levey's Lace: A History, published in 1983 with the last reprint made in 2004. You can find copies floating around on the internet, but you will pay a pretty penny for it. Ms. Levey was a textiles curator at Londons Victoria and Albert Museum (http://www.vam.ac.uk) who specialized in lace. Her book is considered to be a lace bible.
One portrait identified by Ms. Levey in her book is this lovely thing, thought to be painted between 1570-80 .
Ms. Levey believes that the cuff and collar are made with linen bobbin lace, while the surface bobbin lace is made with coloured silks (interesting because most of the surface laces I've found are usually made with metal threads - wear your bling!)
Another lovely is this portrait of an unidentified Spanish lady by Bernardino dei Conti, pre 1523
It features a plaited lace that worked with a fringe on one edge. I don't know if the fringe threads would have been sewn into the bobbin workings or if extra thread was let out from the bobbins (after securing stitches) and cut after to produce the fringe. One day I may try to find out.
Welcome to the SCA blog of Lady Jane Caldwell. Lady Jane plays in 1534 and is interested in early period lace. Lady Jane hails from the Barony of Skraeling Althing in Ealdormere. Lady Jane is also a clothes whore who will wear clothing from multiple periods to either feel pretty or feel comfortable.