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Craft expert who helped make the Duchess of Cambrige’s wedding dress retires

The Royal Wedding 2011
ROBBIE DALE/CC BY-SA 2.0/WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

A lace-maker who helped create one of the most famous wedding dresses in the world is now retiring.

Ian Palfreyman, 72, from Sawley, Derbsyhire has worked as a twist hand for nearly 57 years. A twist hand is someone who operates machines that specialise in making lace. Palfreyman started his work in 1965 at Birkin’s in Long Eaton. At the time, the fresh out of school student was on a £5.48 a week salary and worked 55 hours each week. At Cluny Lace in Ilkeston, Palfreyman has used his skills to produce Nottingham lace and is now retiring from the last manufacturer of Leavers Lace – a traditional machine-made lace in England.

When asked what his proudest achievement was, Palfreyman answered: “Making Kate’s dress. It was stunning to do and I’ve got a photograph of me holding a sample of that lace. Very good.”

In a press release from the Royal School of Needlework, it was stated the technique used in the Duchess’ dress was influenced by a traditional Carrickmacross lace technique. Floral motifs were cut out of lengths of lace produced on machines dating back to the 19th-century. After the motifs were cut, they were stitched to the machine net.

Cluny Lace Company joined another lacing company, French-based Solstiss in creating the gown. The two companies are known to produce some of the highest quality couture lace. The lace for the wedding included roses, thistles, daffodils, and shamrocks representing the national flowers of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. The majority of the dress is made using Solstiss lace, specifically in the skirt and train.

About author

My name is Sydney Zatz and I am a University of Iowa graduate. I graduated with a degree in journalism and sports studies, and a minor in sport and recreation management. A highlight of my college career was getting the chance to study abroad in London and experiencing royal history firsthand. I have a passion for royals, royal history, and journalism, which led me to want to write for Royal Central.