Watch lace-makers at work at the Kantcentrum. Lace (kant in Flemish, dentelle in French) blossomed in Flanders in the 16th century. Naaldkant (needlepoint lace), which developed in Italy, was predominantly made in Brussels while kloskant (bobbin lace) is believed to have originated in Bruges. The latter requires thousands of painstaking and meticulous movements of bobbins and pins. Each lace-maker had her own patterns, which stayed in the family and were handed down through generations.
The Kantcentrum is best known for its bobbin lace-making demonstrations - informal gatherings of 20 or so women who congregate (afternoons only) in a small room at the rear of the complex. It's fascinating to watch, and a credit that these women are determinedly keeping the art form alive. The centre's lace museum displays a very modest collection of traditional lace. The bulk of lace sold in shops throughout Belgium these days is handmade in Asia or machine-made in France. If you want handmade lace from Belgium you're going to have to hunt for it and state what you want. Even reputable shops generally do not advertise which of their stock is made outside Belgium.