Something about me...


I am a freelance lecturer, author and consultant on antique lace and whitework embroideries, being particularly concerned with their identification, their use in costume and the history of their craft industries.

My interest in lace and whitework started over 40 years ago when I bought my first pieces of lace and tried to identity them through books and museum visits. Since then I have collected continuously and built up a very substantial and wide-ranging collection including lace, whitework and small costume items such as decorative babies’ robes and accessories.

Being a trained teacher, I started lecturing on their history and identification at an early stage, fitting this in with my other careers, initially in teaching but later in patent work. In the 1980s I worked with Exeter Museums to set up their new lace displays in Rougemont house (since closed) and the travelling exhibition ‘Lifting the Veil: a closer look at antique lace’ which was drawn from my own collection and toured the country for two years. It was then that I wrote my first lace book for Batsford, a revised edition being published by Schiffer in 2001 under the title ‘Antique Lace: identifying types and techniques’.

More recently I have given up patent work to work full time with textiles. Having become particularly interested in whitework I have spent several years researching the subject to produce my most recent works, “Baby wore white: robes for special occasions, 1800-1910” (2005); "Embroidered with white: the 18th century fashion for Dresden lace and other whiteworked accessories" (2008) and its sequels "White-embroidered costume accessories: the 1790s to 1840s"(2013) and "Fashionable white-embroidered accessories: c.1840 to 1900".

I particularly enjoy sharing my collection and my enthusiasm with students in workshops.

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ann rosenthal | Reply 23.09.2017 22.41

I have probably all the books you have written.
They are all wonderful and have taught me so much.

Heather Toomer 29.09.2017 13.50

Ann, Many thanks for giving that feedback. I should have the next book in the series out this winter - Watch this space! I'm very glad the books help, Heather

Isabella Harding | Reply 23.03.2014 21.16

I have a whitework christening gown which has been dated around 1840. It is yellowed and stained and I wondered if you had any advice or would be able to help?

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Latest comments

13.11 | 08:00

Yes, the 1790s-1840s book is still available. Cost £29 to U.S.A. Please contact me on or send £29 to my Paypal account at that email. Heather

12.11 | 17:41

Is the 1790-1840s book still available? Cost plus shipping to the US, please?

26.07 | 09:51

Hello Johan, Please send £25 to my paypal account (Heather Toomer at email and I will get the book in the post to you on receipt. Thanks

25.07 | 17:41

I want to order a copy of Embroidered with White. Please inform me how I can trnsfer the amount due for postage to Europe.

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