|Chemical lace is created by embroidering designs with machines on a
background fabric which is chemically removed, leaving the "lacy" holes
between the embroidery and giving the effect of "lace". This technique
is over 100 years old. It is commonly found in what today is called "wedding
<---Notice how the thick areas look like satin stitch embroidery.
Most Chemical lace is cotton embroidery on acetate fabric, then the whole lot is
steeped in acetone or something similar to dissolve away the
acetate leaving only the embroidery.
Chemical Lace (sometimes referred to as Schiffli Lace) is a form of machine-made lace. This method of lace-making is done by embroidering a pattern on a sacrificial fabric that has been chemically treated so as to disintegrate after the pattern has been created.
This embroidery is typically done on a multi-head or multi-needle Schiffli machine or loom that has a very large, continuous and overlapping embroidery field. The lace pattern is designed such that the embroidery thread creates an interlocking series of threads that will, in essence, become a "stand alone" piece of lace.
After the embroidery is completed the embroidered fabric is immersed in a solution that will not harm the embroidery thread but completely dissolves the sacrificial fabric leaving just the lace.
Utilizing these large machines and this technique a single piece of lace could be, using today's state-of-the-art machines, over 60" wide by 15yards long. In practice, this system is used to produce many smaller items with one setup.
The original composition of the disintegrating "bath" was not very friendly to the environment and has all but ceased to exist in developed countries. However, the practice is still being used to create laces in third world countries. Since the original development of chemical lace, other methods have been developed beyond the chemical washing method described above. This includes the use of base fabrics that are water soluble or that disintegrate under heat. These methods are generally too expensive or impractical for large-scale production. These are typically used by smaller embroidery facilities specializing in targeted markets, home-based businesses, or hobbyists.
more information on Machine and chemical lace