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The intricate lace patterns in Belgium are unmatched in any other country. The lace trade rose during the early Renaissance. Emperor Charles V decreed that lace-making should be a compulsory skill for girls in convents and beguinages throughout Flanders. Lace became fashionable on collars and cuffs for both sexes. Trade reached a peak in the 18th century.

Lace makers are traditionally women. Hundreds of craftswomen still work in Bruges and Brussels, centers of bobbin lace, creating intricate work by hand, often using over 100 threads per bobbin. Belgian lace is bought today mainly as a souvenir, but despite the rise in machine-made lace from other countries, the quality here still remains as fine as it was in the renaissance.

Lace also has its place in museums. Situated close to the Grand Place, the Musee du Costume et de la Dentelle (Museum of Costume & Lace) has a permanent collection of fine lace. Displayed in subdued lighting and safely laid out in drawers, this beautiful collection contains pieces made on the spindle and with needles, not only from Brussels but also from France and Italy. The bourgeois costumes the lace was made for are also on show in thematic exhibits.


Lace Links

Belgian Lace
General information and outlets for famous Belgian lace.

The history of lace and the different types of lace.

International lace making competition.

Information on Belgian lace and tapestries.

Lace making in the town of Binche.

Kantcentrum of Brugge
Founded by the Apostolin sisters, here you can see demonstrations and receive a blitz course on making lace in 1.5 hours!

Private Lace Lessons

Learn how to make your own traditional lace to take home with you! A Belgian teacher gives private lace-lessons in atypical Bruges house. A half day lesson is 60 Euro per person.