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Student embroiderers stitch their way into history

Student embroiderers studying at the University of the Creative Arts (UCA) were surprised and delighted to discover they had unknowingly played a key part in creating Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge’s dress for her wedding to Prince William, representing a shot in the arm for Drapers’ Save Our Skills campaign.

Students on the University for the Creative Art’s (UCA) Hand Embroidery foundation degree, which is delivered by the Royal School of Needlework (RSN) at Hampton Court Palace, worked to create the bespoke lace on Catherine’s wedding dress, veil and footwear designed
by Alexander McQueen creative director Sarah Burton. That UK students were used supports Drapers’ SOS campaign, which launched earlier this year to help bring back grass-roots dressmaking skills.

Second-year student Eilidh Young, from Killearn in Scotland, said: “It was an unbelievable experience working with Sarah Burton on the wedding dress. It’s such an amazing opportunity for me before I’ve even graduated.”

Hands were washed every 30 minutes to keep the lace and threads pristine on Catherine’s scalloped V-neck, long-sleeved dress. Needles were renewed every three hours and only short lengths of thread were used, each no longer than 30 cm.

For an even appearance, no securing knots were used on the lace which appeared as appliqué on the bodice of the dress and on the skirt in the manner of the Irish Carrickmacross lace. The train measured 270cm, with flower patterns hand-cut and hand-worked into ivory
silk tulle to create a rose, thistle, daffodil and shamrock design, in reference to the countries that make up the UK.

UCA and RSN launched the UK’s only Hand Embroidery foundation degree in September 2009.

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