Lace Makers appeal for younger members

Lace Makers (left to right): Nell Race, Joy Hiller, Dianne Derbyshire, Marian Miller and Lesley Howard

A peaceful church hall is the last place you would expect to find avant-garde fashion but if you want to transform your wardrobe, these stylish Nans could show you a thing or two.

Preston Lace Makers have been ‘bobbin and weaving’ for 25 years.

Now, as lace becomes trendier, the group are pleading for younger members to join and keep the tradition alive.

As the club celebrated its silver anniversary this week, chairwoman, Marian Miller said: “I’m worried that people will see our event pictures and think that the craft is just for old people. We really need to get younger people taking an interest.”

Though the Penwortham club has more than 50 members, lace making is a craft that is sadly dying out.

“There used to be lace clubs all over the North West but one by one they’ve closed as numbers diminished,” Marian added.

In the hive of activity at the United Reformed Church on Liverpool Road, people chatted away while working on various projects.

One woman was weaving an intricate purple piece to decorate an old blouse. Others embroidered pillows or drew up new design patterns.

Dianne Derbyshire, a member for 23 years, uses her skills to teach Needlelace, one of the earliest types of lacework, once found on the clothes of noblemen and women in the 16th century.

She said: “I just hope we can carry on for another 25 years, get lots of young people involved and make sure the group keeps going.

“I have a contact going round to schools and universities to get textile students involved.  Hopefully this will encourage more people to join in and stop the craft dying out.”

The society has played an important role in documenting the history of Preston.

They celebrated the 1992 Preston Guild by designing a commemorative cloth inspired by the bridges over the river Ribble.

The group plans a more modern celebration for the 2012 guild.

Each member will take a photo of the area where they live, scan it onto cloth and hand-decorate the piece with lace before sewing them all together.

Lace making materials are fairly cheap and with celebrities such as Claudia Schiffer and Helena Christensen showcasing the style; it couldn’t be easier to customise old clothes.

Marian added: “When we first started out we were all beginners. Now we’re all experienced and can teach new people.”

To get involved, contact Marian on 01704 821977 or visit www.prestonlacemakers.org.uk

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