Handmade Lace and Toile du Juoy

Thursday afternoon, my friend Barbara showed me a pretty pillow she had made at Alterations Express.  She used fabric from her mother. her grandmother’s handmade lace and her special pillow.

When I saw the fabric I said,”Oh, my friend Joanne gave me a knitting bag made of something similar and it’s French and has pastoral scenes.” but I couldn’t remember the term and had to look it up-

  Toile du Jouy

(and here is a link to a blogpost about the history of toile)


Barbara went and got a box with beautiful pieces of lace, created by her grandmother, Josephine Cinquegranni DiGalbo (b. 1890) Notice the blue edge on the lace.

I looked at the lace with admiration. Such expert craftsmanship and beauty. I asked Barbara is she had a photograph of her grandmother.

IMG_5774Barbara’s Grandparents, Angelo and Josephine, on their wedding day.

Her grandmother’s town of origin was Castlebuono, Sicily. The photograph was  taken on Butler Street in Lawrenceville, a Pittsburgh neighborhood.

And here is a photo of their daughter, Mary Ann, Barbara’s mother. I had the pleasure of knowing her and remember her for her kindness to my children.


And here are some of the lace specimens, her grandmother’s pattern books and crochet hook were in the box, too.




A note in Barbara’s mother’s hand about the lace.

14 thoughts on “Handmade Lace and Toile du Juoy

  1. wow, such treasures. beautiful creations. who does this nowadays? such a labour of love.
    i have never learned how to knit. i took up crocheting a long time ago, but have forgotten how to do it. and i have done some embroidery, and probably still could create something. however most of my ‘handiwork’ nowadays is instant, and involves clicking a camera or playing the keyboard 🙂

  2. So enjoyed this post, Ruth. My mother did tatting which looks like lace but is not as fine.

  3. What a lovely post! Barbara is fortunate to have such beautiful items from her mother and grandmother.

  4. Wow, to make lace is indeed a skill! I have one friend who does “tatting” – and the end product looks similar to lace (if it isn’t, in fact, lace). Incredible. So great to read the story behind the product, too. 🙂

  5. “…lace is formed from the absence of substance; it is imagined in the spaces between the threads. Lace is a thing like hope. It lived, it survived, and it was desired for what it was not. If faith, as the nuns said, was the substance of things hoped for, then lace was the outline – the suggestion – of things not seen.”
    ― Iris Anthony, The Ruins of Lace

  6. Such beautiful heirlooms! It is a shame that it is fast becoming a lost art but, having said that, there’s no way that I could get my 10 thumbs to create anything so intricate.

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