Historically, lace has been used on garments to show status and wealth. These days, lace fabric has become much more accessible for everyone to use, which is great for allowing more creativity with the clothes we can make and maintain.
Even better, lace options have become more robust and suitable for everyday wear. While in the past lace was incredibly delicate and tough to work with, modern lace opens the door to novice sewers who want to try their hand at the craft.
That said, there are a few things to know about stitching with lace fabric. With plenty of years of experience on our side and a passion for fabric, we’ve put together a quick and easy guide that covers the essentials of lace fabric stitching.
Choose the Right Lace
Nailing your lace stitching begins way before you even pick up a needle. Lace is a beautiful fabric that can sport a variety of patterns, thicknesses, and delicacies.
There are three core types of lace you might come across as a beginner. There are many different lace types that have to do with their patterning, but for now, these three are a great starting point:
- Stretch lace – Designed to stretch and flex with the wearer, this needs a special touch to cope with the combination of a stretching weft and delicate lace.
- Sheer lace – Completely see-through lace will usually need a lining of some kind, unless you’re going for a more risqué piece.
- Full-pattern lace – Might need to be partially lined on the sheer pieces, and will have a lot of patterning to work around.
With all these pieces, you’ll need to strategise about where you want the densest parts of the pattern to go on your garment. From there, you can cut and shape your pieces accordingly.
Use the Right Equipment
You’ll need the right tools for the job! Because lace can be a bit finnicky to work with, many people choose to hand-sew their lace (especially if they’re working with it for the first time). While this takes more time and effort, it also gives you more precision when working around the patterns.
However, sewing machines work with lace as well. In fact, if you’re sewing stretch lace, it’s a great idea to work with an overlocker or a zig zag stitch to accommodate that stretch.
Regardless of your method, make sure you have a nice sharp needle and strong thread on hand. If possible, it’s also best to use tailor’s tacks instead of pins to keep your lace in place.
Practice on Scrap Fabric
Let’s face it, stitching on lace isn’t the easiest thing in the world. If you’re just embarking on this journey, it’s a good idea to have a scrap piece of your dream lace to practice on. If you’re not sure you want to invest in a full bolt of your lace, we can cut a piece of scrap for you from the bolt to take home with you and practice on. This is also very useful for planning your garment with.
Pre-Wash Your Lace
As a rule, lace can be a bit stiff. All the patterning creates a less bendable fabric which can be tough to work with. Take the time to wash and dry your lace before starting on your project for the best results.
Not only does this make the lace easier to work with, but it also ensures the fabric won’t stretch or warp strangely the first time you wash your finished piece.
Lace is pretty delicate, so don’t toss it into the washing machine on a standard cycle and then tumble dry. This will cause shrinkage and even ripping. The best way to wash lace is to gently handwash it with a delicate detergent, then dry on a flat surface. Gently stretch the lace to ensure it dries in the correct shape. You can even pin it down with tailor’s tacks to keep it in place.
Always Finish Your Seams
Finally, lace has a tendency to fray! Due to its construction, edges left unfinished will quickly start to unravel, which is bad news for your garment (and the wearer).
That’s why it’s important to always finish your seams with plenty of seam allowance. On stretch lace, make sure to use an overlocker where possible to bind off the edges. If you’re working with other kinds of lace, a simple straight-stitch on the seams will keep everything nice and tight.
There you have it! The most important things to know about working with lace to get you started on your journey. Unleash your creativity, bring your vision to life, and impress those around you with your lace-sewing skills.
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