Is English Netting Really English? Tutu Lovers Want To Know

Since I love to analyse and take things apart down to the last pleat ( an appropriate pun for this blog), I have turned my attention to the term English Netting as the topic for today’s post. You hear a lot about netting or tulle in the construction of dance garments and bridal wear. What you don’t often see is any history or information about the roots and origins of this type of material. We as humans sometimes take for granted the many materials that are available on the market today and we never contemplate who invented them or why. As a tutu lover, I want to know.

The Many Types  Of Netting For Garment Construction

Ice Princess Tutut by Costume Creations UK
Ice Princess Tutut by Costume Creations UK

The body and crispness of netting is perfect for creating items of clothing that are supposed to signal a special event or an important occasion. You never see women wearing garments with netting at casual affairs. It would look very out of place to see this type of material at the beach or some sporting event. Something about this particular material is considered very posh and upscale. It  became as popular as lace for showing off  upper class social standing in ladies fashion.

The Superior Qualities Of English Netting

One of the reasons why English net is used to make expensive garments is because of the high quality fiber construction. The cross-weave pattern makes it sheer, lightweight, but very durable at the same time. It is technically a modified lace of sorts. Way back in the last century and even earlier, lace yardage was entirely made by hand.  Women would sit for days weaving and crossing the thread-loaded bobbins to intertwine these fine threads into beautiful patterns. It was very labor intensive work. Luckily, an inventor came along who figured out how to make a machine that could recreate the same weave pattern.

English Netting  Is Another Word For Bobbinet

John Heathcoat-inventor of the bobbinet machine 1783-1861
John Heathcoat-inventor of the bobbinet machine
1783-1861

One of the reasons why I couldn’t find more about this subject online is because I was searching for the history of netting. Somehow, I stumbled upon the original name of this fabric; Bobbinet.  Netting is just a short way of saying this word. Where did Bobbinet come from?

It was created on a machine made by an English inventor named John Heathcoat in the last century that was modified from his original lace-making machine. The history of his great invention is very interesting. Because of his invention, tulle-making became automated and much faster.

These netting machines were built to last. Some of the original machines are still being used today.  The machines have weaver arms that make the crosswise thread pattern that creates the material sold today as English net.

Bobbinet Machines Are Loud And Fast

After learning so much about bobbinet and its origins, I found a great link to one of the only manufacturers of this material in the world, a company called Swisstulle.UK   I was thrilled to find this company. The Swisstulle Factory is located in Chard, England. The countryside surrounding the factory is very scenic and pretty. You can see what daily life looks like for the workers  inside the netting-making business  by viewing  the video below.

Guess What? English Netting Really Is English!

Now that we have had a nice overview of  bobbinet  history , there is no more wondering about the origins and history of this wonderful material. English Net was invented by an Englishman living in England and continues to be produced in England to this very day. You can’t get anymore English than that.

See more great photos about the  Swisstulle Factory on Facebook.

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One comment

  1. Yes – ballet tutu net is such a complicated subject and with a lot of history – it is so difficult to get exactly the netting one requires for the different tutus, the very stiff ones only come in white ivory and black. I will often use up to five different types of tulle or netting on one tutu.

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