There are many different types of lace and although many look similar, there are distinct differences in how laces are made and what they are most suitable for. Lace has a quality and air about it that speaks of soft gentleness and delicate luxury. Originally lace was a handicraft that made its way into the wardrobes and on the tables of only the wealthy gentry. The arrival of machinery to make beautiful lace has changed that mindset and lace is now readily available for all sewers.
Lace comes in different shades, patterns and widths. It is a beautiful accessory and trim for delicate designs and a fashionable fabric that can be used for an entire outfit.
Originally lace was made by hand and needle lace and bobbin lace were the main forms of lace making. Now the most common forms of lace are net-based where delicate stitching and designs are machined onto net by machines.
From the basic all over embroidered net lace to the delicate Chantilly lace, there are many types and designs of lace to choose from.
Types of Lace
Here is a list of twenty-one different types of lace.
Lace #1 - Chantilly Lace
Chantilly lace has a delicate design of flowers sewn or outlined with silk (or faux silk) on a netting background. Originally Chantilly lace was black with delicate scalloped edges. Modern Chantilly lace comes in a variety of different colors.
Lace #2 - Alencon or French embroidered lace
This is a lace fabric made on net with raised motifs outlined with beads and cord. The motifs are outlined with silk cord giving the lace more definition. Authentic French Alencon is always 36” (92cm) in width while the imitation varieties are 60” (152cm) wide.
Lace #3 - All-over (embroidered net lace)
This lace is made of fine machine embroidery, sewn onto a net background.
Lace #4 - Venise Lace or Venetian lace
Venetian lace is a fine lace that is not worked on netting. The embroidery is stitched onto a cloth that disintegrates in the final processing causing the floral or geometric motifs to stand out. Silky strands of thread connect the lace. It is also known as Guipure lace meaning ‘lace without any mesh.’
Handmade Venetian lace is very expensive, but the machine-made variety is more reasonable.
Lace #5 - Edging Lace.
Edging lace is a trim where one side is straight and the other scalloped. Often the straight side has a thread in it that can be pulled up to create gathers. French edging lace falls into this category and has openings to thread ribbon along it. Flounce is another form of edging lace and is very wide.
Lace #6 - Gathered lace
Gathered lace has the top edge of this lace trim already gathered. Gathered lace is easy to stitch to the edge of a garment to give a frilled effect as the gathers are already part of the lace.
Lace #7 - Insertion Lace
Insertion lace has two straight edges and can be sewn between two pieces of fabric. Decorative stitches can be used to attach the insertion lace for different effects. Sometimes two pieces of insertion lace can be joined together to make the piece of lace wider.
Lace #8 - Crocheted lace
Irish crocheted lace is the most well known. It is one of the few hand-made lace types still made today.
Crotcheted lace is a little heavier than many laces and has a natural organic look to it.
Machine-made crocheted lace is also very common and is typically made from cotton fibers making it easy to dye in brilliant colors to match any garment.
Lace #9 - Tatting lace or shuttle lace
Tatting is a form of knotted lace made with special cotton. The cotton is knotted to form a warp and weft of knots using a shuttle. Tatting lace is delicate and fine and used for edging hankies, pillow slips and collars.
Lace #10 - Tassel lace trim.
This lace with tassels on the edge makes an interesting trim for cushions and clothing.
Lace #11 - Ribbon pass lace
A type of lace that is used to pass a ribbon through. It is made with both edges being the same and holes evenly spaced along the lace for threading the ribbon.
Lace #12 - Swiss Entredeux
This lace is made on cotton Batiste, which is a soft fine cotton.
Swiss entredeux is a strip of fabric that looks a bit like a ladder with holes evenly spaced along the strip of fabric. The lace strip is sewn between lace and fabric and a ribbon can be woven through the holes.
Lace #13 - beaded lace Trim
This lace trim has beads on the edge. The lace is inserted between two pieces of fabric and the effect is the beads look as if they are embroidered onto the fabric.
Lace #14 - Lace appliqué
Lace motifs that can be appliquéd onto garments are very beautiful. They have the advantage of being single items and are a cost-effective way to decorate garments. They can be made from nylon or cotton.
Lace #15 - Elastic lace
Elastic lace is a stretch lace that is ideal for lingerie. It is very soft and should not be scratchy. Elastic lace comes in varying widths and can be used as a trim for legs or waists or for cutting an entire pair of underwear.
Lace #16 - Nylon lace
Nylon lace is synthetic and in common use due to its affordability. Nylon lace may have a straight edge or scalloped edge and has a very fine and delicate look.
Lace #17 Cotton Lace
Cotton lace is softer than nylon or synthetic lace making it ideal where you want the fabric to hug the body.
Lace #18 - Smocked lace
This type of lace looks very creative with rows of smocking to decorate it. Adding smocked lace is a faster alternative to actual smocking since the work is already done for you.
Lace #19 - Ric Rac lace
Ric Rac lace has a zigzag pattern and is used to accent edges or can be inserted into a seam. It is made of cotton, silk or metallic fabrics and is a cheap and cheerful decorative option. Ric rac is sometimes referred to as a lace and sometimes as a ribbon. Either way, it is a pretty, decorative trim.
Read: How to Sew Ric Rac (with video)
Lace #20 - Broderie Anglaise
Broderie Anglaise is often sold with laces but interestingly, it is not strictly considered to be lace. It is made with eyelets, embroidery and cut-outs in a fine strip or piece of cotton. Broderie Anglaise is technically a form of embroidered fabric and is typically found in white or lighter colors.
Lace #21 - Imitation lace (Chemical Lace)
Also known as chemical lace or Schiffli lace, it is basically a man-made sythetic form of embroidered net. The lace motif is embroidered onto a special fiber which later disintegrates leaving the design exposed.
Some modern factories disintegrate the background with hot water instead of chemicals. Imitation lace can be identified by the slightly fuzzy or fluffy look to the edges of the lace.
Types of Lace | In Conclusion
There are other types of lace, but these are the top twenty-one varieties you will come across with the most common or well known being the Chantilly and the Venetian laces.
Lace will always enhance a creation and add an air of luxury to your designs. From famous wedding veils for royalty to comfortable lingerie, lace is a valuable addition to garments.