History of French lace in Villers-Outréaux (North of France)

A bit of history...


Embroidery has been the main activity in Villers-Outréaux for more than 100 years. The first embroidery arm machine was set up in 1888, while hand embroidery frames were numerous. At that time Villers had in addition to its agricultural skills a textile skill for as soon as 1789, 226 gauze-weaving frames and 176 lawn frames could be found there. This weaving vocation favoured the appearance of embroidery in Villers-Outréaux. And the monks in Vaucelles Abbey would not have been extraneous to a certain development in the embroidering activity in the region by teaching workers living there how to weave.

From 1850 on, economy has been modified by industrialization.

Employers set up embroidery machines at the workers because by doing so, prices kept competitives. The weaver-farmers became tailors paid by item.

It is in this economical and social backgorund that the machine made embroidery, tulle and lace industry started off in our region.

The appearance of arm frames

Machine made embroidery begins towards the end of the 19th century, first in Beaurevoir (1878) then Villers-Outréaux (1888), in Caudry, … with the coming of the arm frames.

An embroidery arm frame is a frame that reproduces exactly the movement of the embroiderer’s hand, allowing to realize very fine work.

It is made of a vertical frame on which a embroidery textile is stretched. The frame is mobile and is moved by a lever (called a pantograph) activated by a worker according to a drawing on a board.

The appaearing of automatic and "continuous thread" frames

In 1910, the first "continuous thread" frames with shuttles appeared. The production principle was not the same anymore – instead of using the hand embroidering technique, it worked according to the sewing machine technique.

The design was not done by hand anymore but by an automaton driven by a punch card (jacquard).

They gradually increased in number and around 1910, more than 800 Pantographe embroidery machines , more than 1000 arm frames and 150 frames with automatic Jacquard could be found.

Nowadays, the 15 yards frame is not totally old-fashioned, it is "adorned" with accessories changing the way of working : automatic color change, thread cutter, the suppressing of gearings,

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