Part-made square of lace - the painstaking art of hand
stitching is kept alive in Bailleul
Traditional lace head-dress, once worn
by peasant women on special occasions
19th century lace-making machine
It can make lace to any pattern, with incredible detail -
just bu changing the paper roll that feeds through the
machine on the left of the loom.
Keeping an old craft alive
In a fine old Flemish style house in Bailleul, you can see
people practising the old art of making lace by hand.
Hundreds of intricate stitches go into each small square of
Making fine lace by hand
This widespread cottage industry was started by Louis XIV in
the 17th century. Poor lace-makers toiled long hours in
their cottages. They ruined their eyesight to make fine lace
trimmings for the bed-linen and garments of the aristocratic
few who could afford such luxuries.
A lace head-dress was the traditional "Sunday best" wear for
Northern French peasant women on religious holidays and
special occasions. These scraps of lace were treasured
heirlooms, handed down for generations.
Machines to make Lace
In Calais and Caudry [near Cambrai] you can see the
19th century machines that put the hand lace-makers out of
work [see background page on "History
of the Lace Industry"]. In
1860 there were 8 schools in Bailleul to train lacemakers:
not one was left by the First World War.
School for Lace-makers
In 1918 a rich American, Sir Nelson Cromwell, endowed a
college in Bailleul to revive the old skills. Lessons are
provided for up to 150 students from age 6 upwards, to learn
traditional stitches and patterns used by the old
craftspeople of the region.
Museum and shop
The museum has displays showing lace making techniques, with
many examples. The shop sells some of the students' work,
and on special occasions you can see them wearing
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Location: la Maison de la
Dentelle, 6 rue du Collège, 59270 BAILLEUL,
Take Bailleul exit from A25 autoroute
Tel: 00 33 3 28 41 25 72
Fax: 00 33 3 28 43 81 01