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Carrickmacross Lace and a Royal Wedding

May 6, 2011

Just imagine translating this motif into lace. ©Gail Harker

I was intrigued when I received an email from one of our students, Jean Orchard Drevdahl about Carrickmacross Lace – a type of needle made lace that was applied to Kate Middleton’s wedding dress by a team from the Royal School of Needlework.View the Press Release. I thought that it would be fun to share information with anyone interested in this particular needle-made lace appliqué.

Daffodils - a symbol of Wales. ©Gail Harker

 Here is a description of the lace on Kate Middleton’s wedding skirt, bodice, veil and shoes: Individual flowers were hand cut from lace and applied to silk tulle (net).  I presume that the flowers were those from the famous laces – Cluny and Chantilly (both bobbin laces) that I read about in another description of the famous dress. The flower lace motifs were roses, thistles, daffodils and shamrocks to represent England, Scotland, Wales and N. Ireland.  The cut lace motifs were applied to the tulle using the Carrickmacross lace making process. I scoured dozens of pictures of the Royal Bride online to closely look at the applied flowers. I could not quite make out the specific flowers on the dress. Never mind, the dress was beautiful, made even more beautiful by the excellent craftsmanship of the ladies of the Royal School of Needlework.

Handkerchief from the collection of Gail Harker.

Carrickmacross Lace  – What is It?   Carrickmacross Lace is sometimes called appliqué lace, simulated lace, embroidered net lace or Cutwork Appliqué.  No wonder it’s confusing.  In the traditional method from the 1800’s, fine muslin or organdy is applied to tulle (net).  The motif is outlined with a heavy thread. Excess fabric that is not part of the design motif is cut away. I have included a picture of a handkerchief that shows this method. You may notice that the lace on the royal wedding dress does not resemble that of the traditional Carrickmacross lace but I am led to believe from the descriptions that the process used was the same and the materials different.

Detail - from the collection of Gail Harker.

Where Does it Come From?  The story of the origins of Carrickmacross Lace is that a prominent resident, Mrs. Grey Porter returned home to the Carrickmacross area, Ireland from Italy with some appliqué lace. Italy was a large lacemaking center in the 1800’s. Apparently as the story goes, the Italian method was either copied or reinvented in Carrickmacross.  Machine made net was now easily available so it could be purchased easily to use as a backing.  Soon a school was started to teach women and young girls the skill of Carrickmacross lacemaking to earn a living.

 Here are a couple of books from my library about Carrickmacross:

Carrickmacross Lace, Irish Embroidered Net Lace – A Survey and Manual by Nellie O. Cleirigh.

Irish Lacemaking by  Eileen C. O’Connor

4 Comments leave one →
  1. May 6, 2011 5:53 am

    Thx for the post Gail. It certainly seems to be a technique I might have fun trying as I do enjoy cutback applique and making machine lace.

  2. May 6, 2011 4:48 pm

    That is very interesting Gail. I’m so glad to know about this technique.
    I might like to try this.

  3. Carol Burrows permalink
    May 26, 2011 2:35 am

    I really enjoyed seeing this piece in person. It is so finely detailed. Reminded me of some of the beautiful samples in the Museum of Science and Industry in Dublin.

    • May 26, 2011 3:01 am

      As finely detailled as this piece is, I have seen others that are even more intricate than this one. I also have a piece of Carrickmacross lace worked by machine. Gail

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