Cotton leavers lace is made from 90 per cent cotton on a machine called the Leaver machine. This lace is so exquisite and well-made that only an expert can tell the difference between cotton leavers lace and handmade lace.
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History of Leavers Machine
John Leaver invented the Leavers machine in 1813. It was his idea to put all of the carriages on one tier and to move them with one fixed movement. This is called the "go-through" method and was popular because it increased the work speed of the lace makers.
History of Leavers in the United States
It was not until 1909 that the United States began to mass produce cotton leavers lace. Leavers machines were heavy, so bringing one into the United States required paying a high tariff. At this time in history, the United States had just lost soldiers due to malaria during the Spanish American War. The United States did not have a way to make mosquito netting, and so the Tariff act of 1909 was enacted to allow the Leavers machine to enter the United States tariff free.
Producing handmade lace products takes considerable time and skill. Most handmade lace workers are and always have been women. It would often take a whole day to hand make a few centimetres of lace. The development of cotton leaver lace machines was the answer to this problem.
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