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Images are from the Gillian Kelly Collection unless noted otherwise.

The Museum for Lace and Fashion opened in June 2009 in the Boulart Lace Factory in St Pierre-lès-Calais, the lace-making district of Calais France and one-time home of the Lacemakers of Calais.

Once a working collective lace factory established by the Boulart Brothers in the 1870s, the building was acquired by the town of Calais and after major additions and renovations, converted into a modern museum showcasing exhibitions of past and present fashions featuring lace fabrics and a comprehensive display of machinery used in the production of lace.

Aerial view of the museum opening

The original three-wing factory behind the additions laced together by coloured fabric and over the Quai du Commerce to the canal.

Note the original stair turrets against the building wings.

The museum today from the Quai du Commerce

The new glass wall is imprinted with the patterns generated on the Jacquard cards.

Fashion show interior with Jacquard imprinted glass beyond

Courtyard today showing the tourelles or staircases that lead to the external access balconies

Images: Stephen Black

Image: Stephen Black

Image: Stephen Black



The museum machinery exhibits feature working machinery across all aspects of the lacemaking process from sketching the design and transferring it to punched Jacquard cards, winding, pressing and mounting the bobbins into the carriages, setting up and operating the Leavers machine by a twist hand, inspecting and mending to lace fabric before dyeing and packing the finished product.

Leavers Lace machine

Working machines with mechanical Jacquard machines on the ends

Image: Stephen Black

The Leavers lacemaking machine originally made tulle or net. Itself an adaptation of a Heathcoat machine, the Leavers machine was adapted to make lace with a pattern when a Jacquard mechanism was fitted to the end of it.

The mechanical Jacquard machine uses a curtain of punched cards tied together to drive guide bars which in turn control the bobbin carriages and bars on the Leavers machine to produce the patterned lace.

Image: Stephen Black

Image: Stephen Black

Image: Stephen Black

Image: Stephen Black

Machine to punch the Jacquard cards

Image: Stephen Black

Leavers machines with the lace coming off the top

Lacemaking Industry

Lacemaking Industry

Watch Now

See and hear a Leavers machine with Jacquard apparatus

Hint: turn up your volume for the full effect

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