Crossed-and-Tied Lacing

This unusual style of lacing (that I have called "crossed-and-tied lacing") appears in only one painting that I know of: that of a woman from Florence in the 1490s.

Ghirlandaio's portrait of Selvaggia Sassetti, showing crossed-and-tied lacing technique.

Davide Ghirlandiao, Portrait of Selvaggia Sassetti c1490. Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY.

It's a very useful style to know, purely because it shows that some form of crossed lacing was used in the 15th Century, at least in Italy. At the very least, it might be of use if you

a) find you like this lovely frock and want to make it, as I do, orb) if you've somehow forgotten what you were doing and set your gown up for crossed lacing instead of spiral.

I also think it's a more secure form of lacing for this style of gown - partly opened as it is meant to be - if you have a bigger bust. It's also possibly more useful if you don't have access to the boning that is usually needed when a Florentine gown from this period is closed with spiral lacing. Crossed lacing doesn't gather up the front of a gown quite as much.

How to do Crossed-and-Tied Lacing.

Unlike all the other styles of lacing, this one clearly starts from the top.

You will need a 180cm-long, fine round black cotton lace to complete the distance from top to waist.

Diagram showing crossed-tied lacing ©2010 Elizabeth Elwell-Cook.

Diagram of Crossed-and-Tied Lacing ©2010, Elizabeth Elwell-Cook.

  • Starting from the outside of the fabric, run the lace ends through the top two rings or holes, from the outside of the garment, to the inside.
  • Crossing one side over the other and under as you would at the start of a granny or reef knot, or when tying your shoelaces, you then pass the lace ends through the opposite holes on the next row down. This time, thread them from inside to outside.
  • Continue like this, tying a half-knot between rows to tension the garment, passing the laces from outside-to-inside and inside-to-outside, until you reach the waist of the garment (or your chosen end-point).
  • Always pass from outside to inside on the last row.
  • Adjust the tension by pulling on the crossovers, working from top to bottom again. Note that the gap is slightly narrower at the top, widens out over the bust, and tightens down to completely closed at the waist.
  • Tie your laces off in a secure bow on the inside of the garment and tuck the ends in to the skirt of your gown.

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