Historical information

A Jabot, from the French meaning ‘a bird’s crop’, is a decorative clothing item consisting of fabric or lace designed to fall from the throat suspended from or attached to a collar or neckband or simply pinned at the throat. Jabots made of lace were an essential male upper class fashion item in the baroque period but in the late 19th century a jabot would be a cambric or lace bib decorating women’s clothing and it would be held in place with a brooch or a sewn in neckband. This example with its exquisite chemical lace trim could possibly even be clerical in nature.

Jabots continue to be worn to this day in the field of Law and in highest formal Scottish evening attire.

The lace is embroidered onto a sacrificial fabric which has been treated (initially chemically treated) to dissolve in a chemical solution on completion without damaging the lace. The chemicals used were not environmentally friendly and consequently this method of lace making has developed to use water soluble base fabrics or fabrics which will disintegrate with the application of heat

Originally chemical lace was made on a home embroidery machine but is now also known as Schiffli Lace and made on a Schiffli machine. This machine was invented by Isaak Grobli in 1863 using the same principles as the newly invented sewing machine except that the bobbin of the sewing machine was replaced by a shuttle shaped like the hull of a sail boat, hence the name ‘schiffli’ which means ‘little boat’ in Swiss-German. The Schiffli machine uses two threads and makes a stitch similar to a closely spaced zigzag stitch on a domestic sewing machine. Over time the number of needles and shuttles increased until the present day when some machines can be up to 18 metres in length and use over a thousand needles. Previously the pattern was followed by hand using a pantograph arm where the operator followed the design pattern but the development of computer technology has meant that software designed to drive Schiffli machines can now create a wide variety of stitches and lace designs.


The Amess family owned Churchill Island from 1872 to 1929. This lace collection was added to and refined over the course of three successive generations of women.

Physical description

Jabot with chemical lace trim.

Inscriptions & markings

Package contains note: "FICHU c1860/70 (hand made)