Irish Crochet Dress – Recreating a 1900 Sophie T. LaCroix Pattern

Sophie T LaCroix

  • Sophie T. LaCroix (1862-1949)
  • Irish Crochet – No. 278 Dress Trimming
  • Old and New Designs in Crochet Work, Vol. 2
  • St. Louis Fancy Work Co., St. Louis, MO
  • ca. 1900
By Ann Reillet
crochetthread.wordpress.com

_MG_3609Sophie Tatum LaCroix was born Oct. 17, 1862 in Belleville, Ill. She was a long time resident of St. Louis, Mo. where she authored an extensive volume of craft books titledOld and New Designs.

Each volume covered an array of fancy work ranging from Crochet, Tatting, Smocking, Cross Stitch, Embroidery and Bead Work. This popular series was reprinted numerous times. She also contributed by invitation to the Martha Washington Patchwork Quilt Book seriesediting the designs of Miss Amy Conway, a maker of fancy quilts. In all, Sophie T. LaCroix’s contributions to decorative and textile art included over 1,400 original designs. She was often hailed as “America’s Greatest Fancy Work Expert.

Miss LaCroix was the daughter of Rene M. and Mary (Hopkins) LaCroix. Though she never married, her legacy lives on in the annals of early 20th century crafts. She died Saturday July 16, 1949 at the age of 86 in St. Louis, Mo. and was buried in the family plot at Walnut Hill Cemetery, Belleville, Ill. Her life spanned decades of beautiful fashion beginning in a time when nearly all clothing was handmade. She would have been intimately acquainted with corsets and bustles, the fanfare of Gibson Girls, Edwardian gowns, Art Nouveau, Prohibition and the rise of factories and industry that spanned the Art Deco Era.  A contemporary of Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein and Henry Ford, she would have read first-hand accounts of the Wright Bros., Charles Lindbergh and Amelia Earhart while learning about the Titanic tragedy, Al Capone and countless wars spanning the Civil War to WWII; presidents from Abraham Lincoln to Harry S. Truman, and all the while, she was working on her art. 

This particular pattern was first published by St. Louis Fancy Work Co., St. Louis, Mo. in 1900 under Old and New Designs in Crochet Work, Vol. 2, by Sophie T. LaCroix.  It is recreated here from the 1915 edition, page 15 of 32.  The original pattern can be viewed at the Antique Pattern Library http://www.antiquepatternlibrary.org/html/warm/catalog.htm#AUTH_L

_MG_3834

The design is Art Nouveau; tres en vogue at the time of publication. There are four basic motifs comprised of a 4-petal flower with button center, large and small leaves with vines of fancy scroll work.

The netted ground uses a Venetian crochet technique similar to the triple-picot netting shown in Irish Crochet Lace edited by Th. De Dillmont, for the DMC Library, Mulhouse, Alsace. Both books were published in 1900; for comparison: see 10th ground, Fig. 78, Pg. 31 of 63.

Dillmont Net

Dillmont Net

The video tutorial (below) offers an interpretation of Sophie’s original pattern according to modern crochet terms. In some instances, a best-guess is involved to arrive “in-the-style-of” the original. I hope you’ll give it a try and if you do, please let me know; I love hearing from you! – Cheers, Ann

This is a work-in-process.  Photos shown left-handed.

Part 1 – Getting Started

St. Louis Turns 250 in 2015!

Journal of the Work in Process:
2014 – The motifs commenced in September 2014 upon receipt of thread ordered to complete the project, which was two (2) large cones of J&P Coats size 20 in natural. An old dress from my wardrobe was used as a pattern. By the first week of December, I had finished crocheting the motifs, which were then arranged on three (3) separate platforms using one large foam pad for the front bodice and two styrofoam blocks for the back pieces.  A video was created to document the process. The netting process began Dec. 3rd. The first of three (3) panels was completed Dec. 17.

2015 – Happy New Year!  My goal is to complete the top by year end 2016. I’m focused on the other back panel while it’s still fresh. The trickiest part is lining up the buttonholes in the seam to match the buttons sewn to the finished panel. The motifs for the other back panel are complete and the arranging and blocking work commenced Mar. 2015. I’m struggling with the button holes on the seam. So far, I’ve figured out 2 methods that don’t work, but it’s a learning process and thus expected. I’ve set this aside for now. I may have to forego button holes and place hooks on the inside seam. We’ll see…

2016 – Work is progressing slower than it needs to, I’ve been neglecting it. I’ve refocused my efforts on the the front panel and it’s about 1/2 complete now (5/2016).

 

 
Below, a Buccellati bangle that reminded me of this flower. Very beautiful, as all of Buccellati’s work is.
Lucrezia Buccellati Two Tone Bracelet 2015

13 thoughts on “Irish Crochet Dress – Recreating a 1900 Sophie T. LaCroix Pattern

  1. Just teaching myself Irish crochet. Thank you so much for sharing your work and the background to it. Very hard work but the end result is so beautiful

  2. This is beautiful!! I have a quick question about an abbreviation early in the video instructions you say sh in 7th or 8th st what does sh stand for??

    I’m teaching my self Irish crochet and this will likely be my first large project.

    • Sorry, “sh” is an abbrev. for shell stitch. The shell is just a series of sts worked into one st. They usually start with a single, followed by either double or half double and may even extend to triple or half triple. If you crochet a basic chain of say 10, then sc in 2nd ch from hook, sk next 2 chs, and in the next ch work: sc, hd, 3dc, hd, sc. sk 2 and sc again sk 2 and in next work the same series of multiple sts, sk 2 again and sc in next, these are ‘shell sts’ You can experiment by trying different sts, even all the same to see how they look. Best luck with all your crochet endeavors and have an awesome day. – Ann

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