Once upon a time lace used exclusively by the rich and famous as it was extremely expensive due to its handmade nature. It was originally a popular fashion item for royalty and even the male heirs to the throne were adorned with lace collars and cuffs. Today we have the opportunity to use lace to trim garments, add interest to collars and other parts of our clothing. Lace is a simple add-on on to any dressmaking project and learning how to sew lace trim just requires a bit of patience and careful planning.
Before you Sew Lace Trim – Planning
- Look at the piece of lace you intend to use and decide which is the right and wrong side. Sometimes there is no right or wrong but once you have chosen your option, you need to mark it with a sticker or pin so you are consistent throughout the cutting and trimming of your garment.
- Note the type of lace you are using. Is it beading lace, the kind you can thread with ribbon, or edging lace or Entredeux (a fancy French name for embroidered trim)? Laces with a raw top edge will need to be finished first with a narrow hem.
- If the lace is stiff then you may want to soak and hand wash it to remove starch. Test a scrap first as sometimes lace is easier to sew when it is stiffer.
- Gathering the lace trim will means you need to cut the lace 2 – 3 times longer than the required length. You can hand baste or machine baste the top edge to gather. (Read how to gather). Some lace trims have a built in thread to pull for a gathering effect.
Now you have made a note of the tips, look at two ways you can get the most out of a lace trim.
How to Sew Lace Trim
Simple Lace Trim
Remember to have sharp pins and machine needles that won’t catch or snag your lace.
Wash and prepare your fabric and your lace trim before you sew. This is especially important as your lace and fabric may shrink by different amounts. Cotton lace trim, in particular, is prone to shrinking a considerable amount. If you are using a white lace trim, check that your fabric is colorfast (read how to check fabric is colorfast) and won’t run on your lace.
How to sew lace trim to an edge:
Prepare the edge you are going to trim with a narrow hem. (Read how to sew a narrow hem)
Pin in the lace trim to the edge with at least a 1/4 inch (6mm) overlap and then stitch along the lace edge with a narrow zig-zag.
How to sew lace trim on top of the fabric:
When adding lace on top of your fabric, pin it in place and then zig-zag along the edge. For thin laces, stitching along one side is usually sufficient. But for wider laces, you may need to stitch along both sides of the lace. If you use a matching colored thread, this will become almost invisible.
How to Sew Lace Inserts
If you are looking for something a bit bolder and beautiful then lace inserts can add creativity and interest to your outfit.
Remember to choose lace that is the same on both edges where possible. It is easiest to create lace inserts with lace that is fairly straight on both edges or just has small scallops.
Once again I have used a contrast thread color to better show the stitching but you will get almost invisible results by using a matching thread.
Step 1: Lay the fabric right side up and place the lace on top and pin it in place. Stitch along down both sides of the lace 1/8 inch (3mm) from the edge with a straight stitch. Make sure the fabric does not get caught up in the machine.
Step 2: Flip your fabric to the wrong side and cut away the fabric underneath around 1/8 inch (3mm) inside the stitching.
Step 3: On the wrong side, fold back to the seam allowance and press it down to reveal the lace.
Step 4: On the right side of the fabric, use your zigzag stitch to sew right on the edge of the lace, catching in the seam allowance underneath.
Now sew the garment up as normal with the lace insertion becoming part of the fabric.
There you have it, a beautiful accessory to any garment. You can show off your lace trim and feel like royalty wearing lace and trims – fit for a queen.