Repair Project: Beautiful 100 Year Old Antique Irish Lace

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This lace belongs to a friend of mine who has had it for many years.  It’s hand made Irish crochet lace.  A few of the floral motifs have been torn out here and there, and the picot netting is torn in several more places. 

She asked me if I would be able to repair it, and help her preserve it.  I have to admit that repairing a hundred+ year old piece of handmade Irish lace is a nerdy kind of wonderful. I readily agreed.  So much history here.

In examining the lace, it was easy to see how the damage had happened.  These little hook closures across the front of the jacket have caught on the lace and inadvertently been pulled, ripping through the aging thread.

The culprit: sharp little hook and eye closures

The culprit: sharp little hook and eye closures

My first job was to whiten the lace. I had no thread that would match the deep antique yellow it had become over the years, so I consulted with my mother-in-law who has a lot of experience laundering old lace.  She suggested Clorox II.  It has no chlorine bleach in it, so it won’t damage the fibers, but it does an amazing job of whitening.  It has a bit of bluing in it also, which helps the thread appear whiter.

The washing process took an entire evening, soaking, agitating, and rinsing.  The gentle process did a great job of taking a lot of the aged color from the thread.  Once the lace was a lighter color, not quite pristine white, but tolerably close– my thread was a sufficient match and the repair could begin.

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Irish floral crochet motifs embedded in picot ground.

I’m not done with this project yet, but making good progress.  I just love studying all the old motifs.  I can copy most of them from experience and observation.  The stitch tension is tighter than my tension, so I’m using my very smallest hook, Tulip, size 23.

A good variety of flowers

A good variety of flowers

Such a pretty piece.

Such a pretty piece.

I’m looking forward to posting finished pictures.

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6 thoughts on “Repair Project: Beautiful 100 Year Old Antique Irish Lace

  1. I have recently finally located a white crochet tablecloth my mother made in approx 1952. Beautiful work. It’s in a lot of need of repair. I do a lot of crochet and would like to make a project of it. Any suggestions of repair and cleaning would be of great help.

    • Bernadette, I use Clorox II to whiten my older laces. Clorox II is not a bleach, it is a great non-bleach whitener. Whatever you do, don’t use bleach. Getting a piece of lace clean takes pre-soaking and gentle hand washing, cold water only. Once it’s clean, you can judge the color of the thread for repair. If you can get it completely white, that makes it easier for mending, since most thread is white. If you have to go with an older thread to match, ebay is a good resource for aged thread.

  2. My grandmother was from Ireland. She made a tatted collar when she was 16 years old. It is now 100 years old. I use to play with it when I was a child and admired the detail. My grandmother gave it to me on my wedding day. To honor her I bought green velvet fabric and had it professionally framed. I would love to send you a photo of what it looks like.

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