Lace developed from the embroidery technique of cut work. A design is cut out of a woven cloth and embroidery is used to secure the cut edges against fraying and to give decorative texture. During the 16th century, the technique of lace making was freed from its fabric foundation and became a fabric in itself. Lace had an advantage over straight embroidery as a way to decorate clothing; lace is removable and reusable, whereas embroidery is a permanent part of the fabric.
Throughout Europe, great centers of lace making developed in Italy, France, Flanders and Belgium with much of the work being done by nuns in convents. With the upheaval caused by the religious wars of the 17th century, many Protestant lace makers made their way to England and there developed a new series of lace making centers. High quality lace was extremely expensive and time consuming to produce and was subject to sumptuary laws. In the late 18th century machines based on knitting machines were developed for making lace netting and this innovation permanently changed the industry. Machines made simple inexpensive lace widely available, leaving fine handmade lace to luxury customers, and to artists like Laura Friesel who desire to share their passion for this beautiful art.