Tuesday, March 16, 2010

White Wednesday: Irish Lace

 The story of an original cottage industry.  The story of Irish lace.

Irish lace is world famous for the intricate designs that develop from very simple patterns. While lace making today is a big business, with large factories rolling off yards of fabric in minutes, the earliest Irish lace was a basic cottage industry.
In the 1800s Ireland was a divided land. The wealthy lords owned the land and tenant farmers produced crops for the owners. Many families in Ireland lived in small cottages on land called crofts. The family usually grew their own food on land not used for producing crops for the Lord of the Manor. Most of the crofters were "dirt poor" with little money for necessities.
With the lack of land and the rocky soil the most productive crop to grow was potatoes. Some of the cottage farmers did grow grains or vegetables, but even the seeds to produce these crops were too expensive for most of the tenant farmers. When the potato blight swept across the country between 1845 and 1851 and destroyed the crop it meant starvation for thousands of households.
Many of the Ursuline nuns were familiar with Venetian lace, brought over from France. Women had been producing rough cloth for their families for generations. The nuns realized the opportunity that these skills presented to help save the people from the famine and began teaching many girls and women to produce the fine crochet that has come to be known as "Irish lace." The wealthier Irish families that could afford to buy the lace earned the name of "lace curtain Irish."

Designs and motifs were developed by families. The patterns were closely guarded secrets passed from mother to daughter. The details were kept so secret that many of them were lost as the families either died or fled the poverty for other lands.
The crochet schools established by the nuns in the 1850s and 1860s disappeared as fashions changed and the demand for the cottage lace declined. The introduction of factory production changed the industry and mass production of lace is now the rule.
The 1880s saw a brief revival of the cottage lace industry and produced most of the samples that are now family heirlooms or museum pieces.
Information obtained from this website:

 Another great place to visit is The Sheelin Antique Irish Lace Museum & Shop.
 An added bonus is if you go to the Museum tab and scroll down to the bottom of the page till you see this symbol  and click on it you can take virtual tours of some areas of Ireland.

With the wonderful history of Irish lace it seemed fun to recreate a handkerchief in the style of Irish lace with a crocheted trim.
 I have laid out a 13 inch square of the finest cotton I could find.   A batiste would be perfect, mine was a fine muslin. I then sewed the crocheted lace trim all around the each edge piece separately, not sewing down the corners where they meet.

I then miter and turn the corners and sew them in place.
You now turn over your hanky and trim away the fabric from the back of all lace as shown.
You will leave a small edge against the seam all around the hanky.
You now press the edge in toward the body of the hanky.
Turn the hanky over and topstitch a seam on top of this raw edge as close to the original seam as possible.  
You now have a finished handkerchief with "Irish" lace.

I will be linking to Kathleen's White Wednesday  at her site Faded Charm. I will also join Becca for Show and Tell Wednesday at her site Blue Cricket Design.  Please go on over and see what other awesome things people are blogging about. 


Bearly Sane said...

Informative read, great tutorial and wonderful needlework! Well done Sherry...this is my favourite White Wednesday post this week.
Warmest hugs,
Sandi @ Bearly Sane

Rosie@Journey to Charm said...

Great job. You have a lot of patience. Its beautiful

Miss Gracie's House said...

lace is always so pretty...you did a great job!

Diann said...

Very nicely done! Beautiful linen and lace.

Bella said...

You did a beautiful job. I love everything linen & lace. Bella

donna...@d.reyne's said...

This is so lovely! I have a thing for wonderful White Hankies!
Have a great day~

Debbie~ said...

Nice, I loooved your post, and your handkerchief is too pretty to use (doily maybe)!!! Debbie @ Cottage Hann~Me~Downs

Kiki said...

Wonderful read! Gorgeous post! Such beautiful linens..and fantastic tutorial..beautiful!

Vintage Remixed said...

Hi there. Thanks for the visit. Great linen tutorial too.

Candy said...

Lovely lace. Nice to share the story too.
Thanks for your recent visit ;-)

Raspberries and Rose Petals said...

Wow! Your Irish Lace Handkerchief tutorial is fabulous and beautiful! I don't know that I could bring myself to actually use such a beautiful piece!

Thanks for stopping by my place today! Have a wonderful White Wednesday!


Rebecca said...

Oh thank you for the lace history - very interesting.
Your tutorial was so nice and very lovely.
Thank you for stopping by and leaving a nice comment.

Mary Beth @ Live. Laugh. Make Something said...

Bee-You-tee-Full! great job! I invite you to drop in over at my place one day this week. until later...

Sue said...

I not only loved all the photos of your lace, but the history of lace itself! Thanks, and have a wonderful White Wednesday!
Take care, Sue

Lynn@ The Vintage Nest said...

This was an awesome post. If I was really ambitious I would love to make a set of those for table napkins. HWW

Alicia said...

I love blogs that teach you something. Well your blog taught me a lot. Alot about how Irish lace came to be and then how to make that lovely Hankie. Great job!

Cindy said...

That is lovely. I have always loved Irish lace but never new the history. Thanks for sharing! :)

Alabaster Rose Designs said...

Hi Sherry,
What a wonderful story on Irish lace, and what a beautiful handkerchief! I love your blog site, it is so lovely. Thank you so much for visiting my blog, 15 Bella Vie. It is always so wonderful to meet new blogger friends! I am now a follower of your blog as well.
Have a wonderful day.

Victoria said...

Your hankie is beautiful! I'm not going to enter your giveaway just because we live in such a small space I wouldn't have the room for it but Congratulations on your 100th post!!!! Thank you so much for visiting my blog, as a new blogger it means a lot to me:)

June said...

Such a wonderful tutorial Sherry.
You have such a lovely blog.

Kate said...

Your blog rocks very inspiring! loving the Rachel Ray cookware. Thank you so much for writing on my post, so nice to hear from you.

Have a blessed week!!

The Lazy Peacock said...

that is really gorgeous! and great instructions. thank you for sharing them.

Carrie said...

You did such a fine, excellent job on this beautiful hankie!

Jilly said...

Handkerchief is too pretty and best for keeping on drawing table. The story of Irish lace is awesome and I was read it in my school book.
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