The popularity of handmade laces led to the invention of lace-making machines. The early models required intricate engineering mechanisms, and the development of the modern lace industry originated when a machine was designed to produce laces identical with Brussels lace. In the Heathcot, or bobbinet, machine, warp threads were arranged so that the threads moved downward as the beams unwound. Other threads were wound on thin, flat spools or bobbins held in narrow carriages that could move in a groove or comb in two rows. The carriages carrying the bobbins were placed on one side of the vertical warp threads and given a pendulum-like motion, causing them to pass between the warp threads. The warp threads were then moved sideways, so that on the return swing each bobbin thread passed around one of them. Then the warp threads moved sideways in the opposite direction, thus completing a wrapping movement. In addition, each row of bobbins was moved by a rack-and-pinion gearing, one row to the left and one to the right. As these movements continued, the threads were laid diagonally across the fabric as the warp was delivered. Improvements on the Heathcot machine followed through the 19th century: Nottingham-lace machines, used primarily for coarse-lace production, employ larger bobbins, and the pattern threads are wound independently on section spools; in another type, the Barmens machine, threads on king bobbins on carriers are plaited together, sometimes with warp threads.
Schiffli lace, a type of embroidery, is made by modern machines, evolved from a hand version, using needles with points at each end. Several hundred needles are placed horizontally, often in two rows, one above the other. The fabric to be embroidered is held vertically in a frame extending the full width of the machine, and the needles, supplied with yarn from individual spools, move backward and forward through the fabric. At each penetration a shuttle moves upward and interlaces yarn with the needle loop. Movement of both fabric and needles is controlled by Jacquard systems.
Many types of machine-made laces are made, frequently with geometrically shaped nets forming their backgrounds. Formerly made only of cotton, they are now frequently made from man-made fibre yarns. Bobbinet lace, essentially a hexagonal net, is used as a base for appliqué work for durable non-run net hosiery, and, when heavily sized, for such materials as millinery and veilings. Barmens lace has a fairly heavy texture and an angular pattern; flowing lines, heavy outline cords, and fine net backgrounds are not usually made on Barmens machines.
The introduction of light-resistant polyester yarns led to a revival of Nottingham machine-made curtains. Leavers lace is available in an infinite variety of patterns, since the manufacturing technique allows use of almost any type of yarn. The high strength and comparatively low cost of man-made fibre yarns has made sheer laces widely available.
Net, an open fabric having geometrically shaped, open meshes, is produced with meshes ranging from fine to large. Formerly made by hand, the various types are now made on knitting machines. Popular types include bobbinet, made with hexagonal-shaped mesh and used for formal gowns, veils, and curtains, and tulle, a closely constructed fine net having similar uses. Fishnet, a coarse type with knots in four corners forming the mesh formerly made by fishermen, is now a popular machine-made curtain fabric.
Braiding or plaiting
Braid is made by interlacing three or more yarns or fabric strips, forming a flat or tubular narrow fabric. It is used as trimming and for belts and is also sewn together to make hats and braided rugs. Plaiting, usually used synonymously with braiding, may be used in a more limited sense, applying only to a braid made from such materials as rope and straw.