Plauen lace is known all over the world. In Plauen you can learn everything about the production and watch how the lace was made in the show embroidery Plauener Lace.
Industrialization became increasingly noticeable in the Vogtland hand weaving mills from 1790 onwards. Competing companies were able to produce more cheaply and so alternatives were sought. One possibility was to refine the fabrics, and so it was decided to award embroidery contracts to the rural population. White embroidery in particular was in high demand.
In 1855, about 10% of the population in the Vogtland was engaged in embroidery. These were often women who carried out home work.
Beginning of industrial embroidery
In Switzerland, there were already machines that performed embroidery, and in 1857 the Schnorr & Steinhäuser company brought two hand embroidery machines to Plauen. In doing so, they set an example that other companies quickly followed.
In 1871, after the foundation of the German Reich, trade became much easier throughout Germany. The Vogtland embroidery industry also benefited from this. In addition, small embroidery and sewing machines came onto the market, which boosted white goods production. It became possible to produce more cheaply for the masses and the onset of mail order (from 1876) boosted buying interest.
The triumphant advance of Plauen lace and embroidery began in 1880. At that time, the company F.A. Mammen succeeded for the first time in embroidering tulle by machine. The tulle lace (oriental lace) was a best seller. The term “Plauen lace” appeared around 1906.
A few years later, a new process developed, embroidered air or etched lace, which was much cheaper than handmade needle or bobbin lace. The international market quickly took notice and so began a worldwide move into the world of fashion.
Until the First World War, it was even possible to expand capacities. At that time, there were about 16,000 large embroidery machines in the Vogtland region.
After 1945, the factory owners were expropriated and the individual companies were merged to form VEB Plauener Spitze in 1953. The products were mainly intended for export.
After the political and economic turnaround, restructuring took place with the spin-off of individual areas. This resulted in Plauener Spitze GmbH ceasing operations in 1993. Today, the trade association Plauener Spitze und Stickereien e.V. has the trademark rights to “Plauen Lace” and “Plauen Embroidery”. One of the goals, the care of the historical heritage and this is shown impressively in the show embroidery Plauener Lace.
Embroidery Plauen lace
Albert Schiller purchased the residential building on the former Reusa manor in 1902 with the aim of building a machine embroidery shop right next to it. The farm building is single-storey and was divided into two workrooms. To the left of the entrance were 6 shuttle embroidery machines and to the right of the entrance were 4 shuttle embroidery machines. Behind each window was one of these 4.5 meter long machines.
Commissioning proved to be much more difficult than suspected. The required power connection could not be realized and an expensive solution had to be installed. When operations did start up, it quickly became apparent that official requirements could not be met and production processes were very susceptible to disruptions. As early as 1904, Schiller was insolvent and had to give up.
The new owner Schüler replaced the failure-prone machines and the business could continue to operate. From 1920 onwards, he began to install the first larger automatic machines, which, due to their size, could now be accommodated lengthwise in the building. Today, when you tour the building, you walk through it as it looked around 1924. The machinery has hardly changed.
Museum tour in the show embroidery Plauen Lace
The tour begins in the former office of the boss with a look at his desk. This room is said to be still preserved almost in its original condition.
Then we were shown the exhibition in the historical machine embroidery. The work process was not only explained in great detail, but also demonstrated in practice.
I found it very impressive when such an old machine is turned on with a lot of noise and then a workflow is demonstrated that in the end results in such a filigree product.
I was particularly impressed by the process in which a pattern on a template is transferred by hand in time with the rhythm of the machine, and the machine then produces it in exactly the same way.
In old pattern books you can find the complete collection of all designs that were produced in this factory. A quick glance at one of the books shows impressively how the tastes of customers have changed. In the past, you would show the customer such a book and if he found, for example, a lace collar in a pattern that he liked, you could make exactly that.
During the tour between the machines, individual processes of the production flow also become clear. For example, there are punched card machines, which made it possible to convert a pattern into a punched card according to the design and then also copy it for several machines.
In addition to the large machines, there are many small embroidery machines to see during the tour. Here, too, there are very different machines in the Plauen Lace Show Embroidery, from the old converted sewing machine to the specially manufactured embroidery machine with motor and knee operation, with which, for example, monograms are embroidered.
Today, the lovingly maintained machines are used not only for demonstration purposes, but also for production, as they were over 100 years ago. The pieces produced on these large and small machines are made in small series or as individual pieces and you can also buy the products in the museum store. All products bear the quality seal “Plauen Lace”.
Monday – Saturday 10.00-17.00
Demonstrations: 11.00, 13.00, 15.00, 16.00
Sundays and holidays on request
Part of the exhibition can be visited without a guided tour.
Adults: 5,00 €
Children: 3,00 €
Photography: 1,50 €
The visit to the Plauener Lace show embroidery factory was part of a research trip to Plauen. The article was written independently of the visit.