All about Schiffli machine embroidery, also known as Swiss Lace. What it is, its impressive history, how it is different from Lace and what different types of Schiffli embroidery and Schiffli laces exist.
What is Swiss Lace?
Swiss Lace, or Schiffli machine embroidery got its name from the word “ship” in Swiss-German. The term “ship” is referring to the shape of small containers for the bobbins on the embroidery machine. Developed in 1863 by Isaak Gröbli, the Schiffli machine started flourishing between the late 1800s and early 1900s. During this time the St. Gall Embroidery made its name within the world of embroidery. Before then embroidery manufacturing was mainly led by hand embroidery, which required a lot of manpower to achieve large quantities. Machine embroidery gave birth to a new industry. An industry that was able to scale the production opportunities for luxury embroideries to a level which was impossible to reach with hand embroidery.
How is Swiss Lace made?
The Schiffli lace technique combines a front and back yarn stitched onto a base cloth. This process happens on a machine with up to a thousand or more needles placed horizontally side by side. The bobbin inside the “Schiffli” is firstly forming a slope around the thread of the needle, before it is pushed through the fabric to secure it with a knot. After that the thread goes back to the front for the next stitch.
When St. Gall or Swiss Embroidery established?
Swiss embroidery got its name around 1910 when more than half of all embroidery produced worldwide came from the region around St. Gall. St. Gall is a city in the german speaking part of Switzerland. After the demand for luxury embroidery plummeted during the First World War, the industry bounced back fairly quickly. Nevertheless, it never became as important as it was before. What was left is St. Gall Embroidery as a name within the fashion industry that kept its high reputation for design and quality worldwide.
Embroidery vs. Lace
Strictly speaking embroidery and lace is not the same! Schiffli embroidery differs from Schiffli lace in providing a freedom of design and ability to create unique three-dimensional effects like holes, superposés, multiple fabric layers etc. It can be placed onto a variety of bases like fabrics, knits, or non woven. The base can even be removed, like with Guipure embroidery. Its often more colourful than lace because it is easy to create many types of patterns.
Schiffli Machine Embroidery vs. Swiss Lace
Swiss Lace got its name around 1910 when more than half of all embroidery produce worldwide came from the region around St. Gall, a city in the german speaking part of Switzerland. After the demand for luxury embroidery plummeted during the First World War, the industry bounced back fairly quickly, but it never became as important as it was before. Ultimately St. Gall Embroidery kept its high reputation for design and quality worldwide. With Antex we are developing custom Swiss Embroidery with the traditional Schiffli machines.