Guipure is not a type of lace, but how can we tell the difference?

Guipure is not a type of lace, but how can we tell the difference?

Few people know that guipure is not lace, but embroidery. Etymologically, the word means "twist". Let's pick up this thread, and follow the twists and turns of its long history.


While guipure is generally classed in the lace category, it is not made on lace looms, but on embroidery machines, and this is what makes it different. Guipure is embroidery that has no mesh backing. This is what makes it easy to distinguish from lace. The lace is lighter and always has mesh backing. Guipure is often heavy, thick and very open. Looking closer, you will spot a detail that gives it away: In guipure, the thread can follow the contours of a pattern no matter how sinuous, as if it "climbs" on the pattern. This makes it possible to achieve very clean detailing that is well-hemmed and raised. While in lace, the thread can never go backwards: it must follow the weave of the fabric, since the background and the pattern are made together.


The word "guipure", which originally means "twist", has various applications that can be confusing. The term first appeared among cord makers, designating a thick “gimped” thread (bound with silk, viscose or rayon), that was shiny and round, its appearance was evocative of bourdon stitch, so often used in guipure. The term also applies to the embroidered square mesh netting with which curtains were made in the first half of the 20th century. This type of guipure is called "bobbin guipure". Now outdated, it has been replaced by "chemical embroidery", which is guipure as we know it today, taking its name from the fact that the mesh backing has been dissolved.


Tell the difference : Guipure/Lace


Antex Broderie

Guipure - Antex Broderie, Austria | Ref: 0922845-0007 - CO Guipure Collar | 100% Cotton |

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Hämmerle & Vogel

Guipure - Hämmerle & Vogel, Austria | Ref: 71589 - Guipure Gallon | 100% Cotton |

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Ricamificio Paolo Italy

Guipure - Ricamificio Paolo Italy, Italy | Ref: 26573A04 - Guipure collar | 85% Cotton 15% Polyester | See more





Sophie Hallette

Bourdon lace - Sophie Hallette, France | Ref: 66054.234/90 - Joyeuse | 45% cotton 40% viscose 15% polyamide/nylon | See more



Dentelles DARQUER

Lace  - Dentelles DARQUER, France | Ref: a5200780 / CAMBROSE | 55% Viscose 25% Polyester 20% Polyamide | See more



There are three types of soluble mesh: chemically treated cotton, non-woven paper, and acetate. Chemically treated cotton will burn in an oven, where the untreated cotton will not. This technique retains some of the support, because the chemically treated cotton is not completely eliminated behind the embroidery. Non-woven paper made of PVA (polyvinyl alcohol), dissolves at 30°, but this method requires the creation to be washed. Finally acetate, which dissolves in acetone (prohibited in France), allows for a more supple support. At one time, a silk mesh was used, before being dissolved with caustic soda, to retain only the cotton embroidery !


In conclusion, let us repeat that guipure is not a lace. While some lace makers, evoke "guipure lace" to mean thick and heavy laces, others prefer to speak of "bourdon lace", to avoid any confusion. Understanding the difference is key.





« Gros Point de Venise » : Guipure imitates the Gros Point de Venise well. This needlepoint lace is characterised by thick and tight stiches, which make the pattern raised. It was so popular in the 17th century that Louis XIV banned it throughout the kingdom, which immediately increased its renown.


« Irish Crochet » : Another model of imitation in guipure is Irish crochet. This technique, which developed as an industry to boost the economy at the time of the great famine in the 19th century, was a huge success throughout the Western world.


«  From Saint Quentin to Saint Gallen » : Embroidery looms first appeared in France, in Saint-Quentin. Later, Switzerland developed a thriving embroidery industry in the Saint Gallen region, which is still home to prestigious guipure embroiderers today.





Forster & Rohner, an ancestral Swiss embroidery house, has an innovation department where embroidery is used to make heated, luminous, and smart textiles.


Dentelle André Laude: "We are specialised in "guipure lace", which is a thick lace, made on special Leavers looms, designed for weaving with thick threads. We alone own these machines, and we make the thickest guipure lace on the market."


Albert Guégain Broderie: "To differentiate ourselves from the usual matt and plain guipures, we use viscose, lamé, and calendared polyester, and we mix threads and colours.”


Solstiss: Leaver lace maker, embroiderer and guipure manufacturer, Solstiss’ products are 100% French made.





Antex Broderie Shop

Hämmerle & Vogel Shop

Solstiss Shop

Ricamificio Paolo Italy Shop

Sophie Hallette Shop

Dentelles DARQUER Shop

Forster & Rohner Shop

Dentelle André Laude Shop

Albert Guégain Broderie Shop

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