The word lace is derived from the Latin word Lacques, meaning loop or snare. The term lace extends to any openwork fabric that is created by looping, twisting, or knotting of threads either by hand or machine. Lace may be made of any fiber-silk, linen, cotton, polyester, rayon, etc. Most hand-made laces today are made from linen, cotton, or silk. Machine-made laces are most frequently made from polyester (on industrial lace machines), cotton, or a combination of both of these fibers.
Lace curtain manufacturing involves filling of thread or fabric in areas thus creating a textile that includes both an open mesh as well as opaque sections. The resulting fabric is airy and light, allowing light and air to filter in through the lace curtain, or permitting a colorful clothing fabric to peek out from behind lace used in clothing decoration.
The first use of lace curtains is unknown, but it is unlikely that anyone but the very wealthy could have afforded to have put handmade lace in their windows where they could be ravaged by sun or rotted by rain. It is more likely that they were used first in the mid-nineteenth century when machine made laces made such curtains affordable. Furthermore, as heavy curtains are coupled with lighter curtains to shield the privacy of the Victorian house, lace curtains were the logical choice for these filmy barriers. Today, the lace curtain is only made on large lace-making machines that produce thousands of yards each year. While lace curtains of other centuries would have been extraordinarily expensive, the price of mass-produced curtains is very reasonable, and curtains may be purchased of synthetics such as polyester which require little care and are available in a variety of colors.
Always highly prized for its extraordinary beauty and intricate patterns, lace was considered a dear commodity until lace-making machines largely destroyed the market for handmade lace. Ancient Egyptian art depicts lace hairnets about 2,000 B.C. By the Middle Ages, curtains and textiles included lace, as well as exquisite and expensive clothing from the fifteenth century until the early nineteenth century. By the early nineteenth century, the British were successfully producing machine-made lace curtains with the help of a knitted net. Today, lace curtains are popular once again. Still prized for their airy beauty, lace curtains permit light to filter through the window, while still providing privacy. Some lace curtain companies offer patterns that have been in machine production for 140 years.