Updated on July 28, 2022 by Sarina
Romantic, delicate, feminine, expensive, luxurious, classy looking, sexy Lace – tough for any other fabric to beat it on the basis of beauty. Lace has a very special place in a girl’s life – she chooses this one for the most special day of her life. Even a tiny bit of lace helps to elevate a garment to another level.
Sewing Lace – 8 problems
- Sewing Lace – 8 problems
- Scare Number 1 – Lace gets eaten up by my feed dog
- Scare Number 2 –Lace seams breaking in places
- Scare Number 3 – Starting and ending of the seams look ugly because of back stitches.
- Scare Number 4 – When sewing thin lace with large holes, the seam allowances show through
- Scare Number 5 – Lace fibers getting entangled in the pressure feet and thus ruining the fabric
- Scare Number 6 – Pins doesnot stick because of the holes in lace
- Scare Number 7 – Cutting Lace cuts up the motifs
- Scare Number 8 – I simply cannot iron Lace fabric without fear of scorching it
- Sewing Lace trims to fabric
- Sewing Lace trims together
- Lace Appliques
- How to sew Lace to Fabric
- Lining Lace
- Lace sleeves
- Adding beads to lace
- How to stitch beaded lace fabric like Alencon lace
Lace is an open weave fabric which is the beauty of it as well as the challenge of making things with it. But sewing with lace is not at all complicated – if you take the necessary precautions.
Scare Number 1 – Lace gets eaten up by my feed dog
The beautiful fabric going through the little hole is a sewing nightmare. Most lace fabric is thin and lightweight.
The solution is to use a more firm weave fabric at the start of sewing it and then continue on to the lace. Or hold on to the top thread and bobbin thread and the fabric firmly as you begin sewing. You can also keep a piece of tissue underneath to get a firm grip.
Check out this post on sewing with thin lightweight fabrics for more tips.
Scare Number 2 –Lace seams breaking in places
The solution is to sew with a nice narrow zig zag stitch.
To join 2 pieces of lace you can try this method – overlaping the materials and then sewing from the top with a zig zag along the lines of design on the lace.
Method : Mark outline of the seam on both the fabrics with hand basting. Place one section of the lace over the other with the seam lines matching. Hand baste in place. Use a satin stitch foot on your machine. Sew over the two pieces following the outline of the lace motif designs on your top fabric that runs through the seam line you have marked. After stitching cut away the excess seam allowance.
Scare Number 3 – Starting and ending of the seams look ugly because of back stitches.
You can prevent this by leaving long thread tails at the start and the end and tying knot with these tails.
Scare Number 4 – When sewing thin lace with large holes, the seam allowances show through
Thread magazine has a very ingenious article on how to solve this problem. A strip of fabric dyed the colour of the skin (your skin) is used to bind the trimmed seam allowance. This idea which is outlined here will make the seam allowance disappear against the skin inside the dress
Another option is to use a french seam. Infact this is my favourite way of doing the seams when sewing lace. Check out the post on french seams for details on how to do it.
Scare Number 5 – Lace fibers getting entangled in the pressure feet and thus ruining the fabric
Go slowly when sewing lace. This way you will have more control of your machine. Use the appropriate presser feet; the regular all-purpose zig zag one would suffice.
A roller pressure foot will go gently over lace without any pointy edges entangling and tugging at the lace meshes; Checkout this post on the 33 different presser feet used in sewing.
Scare Number 6 – Pins doesnot stick because of the holes in lace
Use pattern weights to hold lace together. Small binder clips also will work. You can also make tailor tacks with a hand sewing needle and thread to keep the seam in place before sewing them up.
Scare Number 7 – Cutting Lace cuts up the motifs
The solution is to cut around the motifs instead of cutting straight across.
Scare Number 8 – I simply cannot iron Lace fabric without fear of scorching it
The solution is to use a pressing cloth when pressing lace; being very very careful with the heat settings also helps.
Other than these little nuisances, there is nothing which can faze you from sewing with lace. Just take all the precautions you take when sewing any other fabrics like prewashing, pressing as you sew and clipping the seam allowances. Checkout the most important dressmaking tips you need to consider when making clothes.
Sewing Lace trims to fabric
Keep the fabric and lace right sides together, lace on top of fabric. Keep atleast 1/8″ of the fabric beyond lace edge. Zig-zag stitch over the heading of the lace
Checkout these posts for more details on this – Tips for sewing trims; insertion stitches and 2 easy ways to add Lace trims to clothes by inserting them in between fabric panels.
Sewing Lace trims together
You should keep the lace trims side bby side and join them together with a zig zag stitch.
Most of the lace comes with a net or mesh background with motifs dominating the surface. It is a perfect candidate for appliqueing on to a base fabric. This way you can enhance the lace motifs on a similar coloured fabric.
You can hand sew motifs, swirls and flower designs along finished edges and create a soft finish which is better than a machine sewn one. Lace applique is done after all other stitching is done.
Cut out the motifs careful from the fabric as you like it. (It is a good idea to leave some extra thread around the motifs and cut to prevent damage to the motif ) You can apply fray preventer liquid around the cut edges to seal the edges.
Place it on the garment and see which placement looks good. Hand sew it to the fabric carefully with slip stitch / whip stitch.
You can machine sew as well. It will be better if you can sew with invisible thread
You can also do a reverse applique with lace.
How to sew Lace to Fabric
Out of handstitching and machine stitching, handstitching is the preferred method for sewing lace.
You can create the bodice first and then hand stitch the lace to the bodice, fitting it to the curves of the bodice by stretching it and pinning.This way you can eliminate unnecessary seams which may add bulk . Pin all the time or hand baste .
I love to make dresses with all lace sleeves. If you want to add lace motifs / applique do it before the sleeve is attached to the bodice.
Make a lining sleeve and then hand sew the lace motifs to this . It is a great look to have lace motifs slightly extending outside the lining. All these should be done when the sleeve is lying flat infront of you. You can create lace appliques and hand stitch them to the sleeve
Ensure that for both sleeves the motifs or lace appliques are placed in exactly the same position.
I like to line my lace sleeve with net fabric. This way the sheerness is maintained without loosing the beauty of lining it. Mark the sleeve pattern on to the lace fabric. Cut the lining ( which is really an underlining ie treated like the lace fabric itself.) Keep the two fabric right sides together. Stitch them together at the hem with a half inch seam allowance. Trim the seam allowance close to the sitching. Turn the sleeve right side out. Now you have the sleeve which is properly underlined and no need to turn under the hem anymore
When joining this sleeve to the armhole I would treat the lace and netting as one and join.
All lace work on sleeves should be done before the sleeve is constructed. You may want to baste the sleeve together and into the bodice so you can mark the sleeve hem. Then, take the sleeve out and do the lace work while the sleeve is flat.
Adding beads to lace
Beads and sequins add a special beauty to lace . After attaching the lace, you can sew in the beads. You can hand sew beads / sequins to the lace.Checkout the different types of beads available for you to atatch o your lace dress or the different beading stitches you can use. Remember not to attach the beads near the seam allowance.
How to stitch beaded lace fabric like Alencon lace
Alencon lace is an embellished lace which is usually used for sewing wedding gowns. It is embellished with beads, cords and sequins. Because of this it is not easy to sew with it, though the fabric is unparalleled in beauty.
Cut pattern pieces 1′ extra along the edges and overlap one edge of a piece over another and hand sew in place. That is how you sew this lace. You should also trim the underneath edge close to the stitching so that there is less bulk.
You can also machine stitch the layers of this lace. You will just have to ensure that you remove all beads and sequins from the edges of the pattern pieces so that they will not come in the line of stitching ( machine)