The Schiffli machine, invented by Isaak Groebli in Switzerland in 1863, changed the face of embroidery. With multi-needles and a two-thread system similar to a sewing machine, the shuttle holding the bobbin resembled the hull of a sailboat– in German, schifli means ‘little boat’, and it’s from this that the machine took its name.

Initially the machine was most useful for producing multiple identical copies, as designing motif on a Schifli was not much quicker than handworking them; over time and with some fine-tuning it came to make intricate motifs efficiently.

For this machine embroidered lace the machine works linked motifs onto a sacrificial cloth that is then burnt away by acid, leaving the machine made stand alone lace.

Embroidered patches, or badges, are made using the same method, to be cut out and applied to any solid surface.




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