Background reading


Elizabethan fashions and lace history

Queen Elizabeth’s Wardrobe Unlocked, Janet Arnold. Maney 1988. ISBN 0 901286 20 6 – a lavishly illustrated exploration of the information available about the clothes owned by Queen Elizabeth I and the people who made them; it is an authoritative and readable academic study.

Also by Janet Arnold: Patterns of Fashion, the cut and construction of clothes for men and women c1560-1620 (Macmillan 1985. ISBN 0 333 38284 6) and Patterns of Fashion 4, the cut and construction of linen shirts, smocks, neckwear, headwear and accessories for men and women c1540-1660 (Macmillan 2008. ISBN 978 0 333 57082 1) contain masses of background information and illustrations, plus detailed patterns for reconstructing clothes of the period.

All three of these books by Janet Arnold have extensive bibliographies including links to her other publications

Seventeenth Century Women’s Dress Patterns, Book 1,  V&A, 2011, ISBN 978 1 85177 631 3

Seventeenth Century Women’s Dress Patterns, Book 2,  V&A 2012, ISBN 978 185177 685 6

Editors Susan North and Jenny Tiramani

 Seventeenth Century Costume, Rebecca Quinton (Unicorn Press/ Glasgow Museums, 2013, ISBN 978 1 906509 86 6)

 Dress in the Age of Elizabeth I, Jane Ashelford (Batsford, 1988, ISBN 0 7134 5622 1)

A Visual History of Costume; the sixteenth century, Jane Ashelford (Batsford, 1983, ISBN 0 7134 4099 6)

 Med kant av guld och silver,  Lena Dahrén, Uppsala University, 2010, ISBN 978-91-628-8196-2. An extensively illustrated PhD thesis placing pre-1640 gold and silver lace into a historic, social and economic context. (In Swedish with a brief English summary.)

 Lace, a History, by Santina Levey, V&A, 1983. ISBN 0 901286 15 X

The Lace Guild’s website: – this is an On-Line Digital Archive of Documents on Weaving and Related Topics containing a wide variety of our of copyright books and articles on lace and related topics

Bobbin Lace Techniques and patterns

Le Pompe, 1559 – patterns for Venetian bobbin lace,  Santina Levey and Pat Payne,  Ruth Bean 1983. ISBN 0 903585 16 2  . Facsimile of Book 1 with some pages from Book 2 Book 2 of Le Pompe can be found at:

Nüw Modelbuch; translated by Claire Burkhard and published by Paul Haupt in 1986 as Fascinating Bobbin Lace. (ISBN 3 258 03610 1).A facsimile of the original pattern book, plus modern German, French and English translations.

Musterbuch für Stickereien und Spitzen [Pattern Book for Embroidery and Lace], Elisabetta Parasole,  1616, reprinted in 1891 by  Ernst Wasmuth and now in the lace books section of the Arizona weaving website (see above)

Scholehouse for the Needle first published in London in 1632 by Richard Shorleyker; facsimile published in 1998, available from

Elizabethan Lace by Gilian Dye, The Elviston Press, 1995. ISBN 0 9522709 3 5 and Cleveden Press,  2009, ISBN 978-0-9553223-1-0. [Note the bobbin lace instructions in this book have been largely superseded by later research]

Sixteenth and Seventeenth Century Bobbin Lace,  Gilian Dye, Cleveden Press:

Book 1, Gold and Silver Edgings. 2012, ISBN 978-0-9553223-3-4

Book 2, The Isham Samples and other Linen Edgings. 2012, ISBN 978-0-9553223-4-1

Book 3, Surface Decoration in Silk and Metallic Thread.  2013, ISBN 978-0-9553223-5-8

Book 4, Insertions and Borders. 2015, ISBN 978-0-9553223-5-8

Introducing Bone Lace, 2017,  ISBN 978-0-9553223-7-2  (a prequel to the 4 books above, assuming no previous knowledge of bobbin lace )

An Early Lace Workbook, Bobbin Lace Techniques before the Baroque, Rosemary Shepherd, Lace Daisy Press, 2009. ISBN 978-0-9591235-4-8

Needle made Laces

The Technique of Filet Lace by Pauline Knight, Batsford 1980. ISBN 0 7134 1698

Ruskin Lace and Linen Work by Elizabeth Prickett, Batsford 1985. ISBN 0 71344561 0


The Gold and Silver Wyre-Drawers by Elizabeth Glover Phillimore & Co, 1979, ISBN 0 85033 248 6. History of the Worshipful Company of Gold and Silver Wyre-drawers and a description of the methods used for making gold and silver threads.

Flax and Linen, Patricia Baines. Shire Publications 1985, ISBN 0 85263 727 6, also 2003, ISBN: 9780852637272. An illustrated summary of the preparation of linen thread.

 Lace as ties

Fingerloop Braids, Lois Swales and Zoe Kuhn Williams, The Society for Creative Anachronism, 2002

Tak V Bowes Departed, Elizabeth Benns and Gina Barrett, 2007 Soper Lane, ISBN 13 978-0-9542380-6-3


An Elizabethan Inheritance, the Hardwick Hall Textiles,  Santina Levey, p20 (National Trust, 1998, ISBN 0 7078 0249 0)

Of Household Stuff: The 1601 Inventories of Bess of Hardwick, Santina M. Levey, Peter K Thornton National Trust, 2001, ISBN 0-7078-0329-2.

The Art of Dress, Clothes and Society 1500-1914, Jane Ashelford . National Trust, 1996, ISBN 0-7078-0336-5

In Fine Style, the Art of Tudor and Stuart Fashion, Anna Reynolds. Royal Collection Trust, 2013, ISBN 978 1 905686 44 5

You should always look twice, two portraits of Shakespeare on the Understanding British Portraits website:


The following books contain reproductions of portraits where the sitter is wearing lace together with background information about the sitters and artists. Those marked with a * were published to coincide with major exhibitions.

* The Lost Prince: the Life and Death of Henry Stuart (National Portrait Gallery, 2012, ISBN 978 1 85514 458 3)

* Shakespeare Found! A Life Portrait at Last (Cobbe Foundation and Shakespeare Birthplace Trust,  2009, ISBN 978-0-9538203-2-0)

In Fine Style, The Art of Tudor and Stuart Fashion, Anna Reynolds (Royal Collection Trust, 2013, ISBN 978 1 905686 44 5)

The Suffolk Collection, Laura Houliston (English Heritage, 2012, ISBN 978 1 848 02080 1)

* Elizabeth I and her People, Tarnya Cooper (National Portrait Gallery, 2013, ISBN 978 1 85514 465 1)

A Guide to Tudor and Jacobean Portraits, Tanya Cooper (National Portrait Gallery and National Trust, 2008 ISBN 978 1 185514 393 7)

* The Elizabethan Image, painting in England 1540-1620, Roy Strong (Tate Gallery 1969)

Cornelius Johnson, Karen Hearn (Paul Holberton publishing, 2015 ISBN 9781907 372827)

The Weiss Gallery in London has published a range of catalogues which include detailed research into portraits that pass through their saleroom, several of these can be viewed on the gallery website:


Lace  (the magazine of The Lace Guild) – issue 40, Elizabeth Isham’s Lace by Betty Worrell.

Articles by Gilian Dye: issue 105: Lace for a Queen, Elizabethan Laces. 106: The Lace Guild at the V&A. 125: Lady Drake’s Lace. 132: Alnwick Castle Gloves. 135: Jane Lambarde’s Mantle. 137: Search for Early English Lace. 138: Early Lace – Playing Snap. 139: Portraits and Lace. 140: Hardwick Hall’s Hidden Hoard. 141: In the Glass Cube. 142: The Threads of Early Lace. 143: Gold in the Italian Hills. 144: Gold and Silver Edgings. 145: You should always look twice.

Strands (journal of the Braid Society), issue 16 (2009): Did Passementerie Give Birth to Bobbin Lace? Gilian Dye

Australian Lace – articles by Rosemary Shepherd in the summer 1992 and winter 1993 issues of the magazine, including reconstruction of Batavia lace

IOLI Bulletin –  issues from Summer 2007 (vol 27/4) onwards  have articles on reconstructing early laces by Kim Davis, Tamara Duval, Gilian Dye, Susan Lambris and Devon Thein.

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