Highly requested Sewing Circle: How to sew on lace!
Q: I have a question about lace. I'd like to make a dress with lace (a lot like your white one with polka dots--I'm even using 2444) but I have no idea how to work with lace. All of the tutorials I can find are for wedding dresses, which suggest hand-stitching every single seam, which is just not happening. Any suggestions?
A: For me, sewing on lace isn't really harder or more accident-prone than sewing on other fabric, so don't worry too much about it! And depending on the lace you're using, your seam allowances may not even show through if you construct the dress normally--that's what happened on the net sequin dress I made. But, if you want to be really sure you don't have any lines/cut edges/doubled-up places showing through, you'll want to make the dress the way you would an unlined one--but you use a lining, and treat it as an interlining.
An interlining is an extra layer of lining fabric between the lining and the fashion fabric. Although it's also an interlining if you don't have a normal lining layer; you're basically interfacing the fashion fabric with your lining. The way I made the ivory polka dot dress is, just the lace and lining treated as interlining. Here's a pic of the inside construction.
Although—I didn’t totally treat them as the same fabric. The first thing I did was sew the shoulder seams of both the lining and the net, then sew the pieces together around the neck edge, as shown in the picture below. Then, I did the sideseams and darts treating the lining and interlining as one like you saw in the picture above.
If you make a sleeveless dress, you could do this or make a facing at the neckline and definitely make a facing for the armholes, or a partial lining/facing that covers both areas and stops below the armpits. Here’s a tutorial on how to do that. Or, you can do what I did here, where I gave the edges a bias binding rather than a full lining or facing.
Q: I'm scared of sewing with lace - do you have tips on that? My main concern is the visibility of the seams.
A: I’d say get a lining that matches exactly if you can, preferably something not too lightweight. You definitely want something substantial since the lace is see-through! You may want to use an interlining (sew like it’s part of the lace) as well as a true lining (constructed separately, then put with the outside right sides together like you would any other dress). That's what I did on this dress with a lace bodice.
Other lace tips:
- About finishing the edges: Lace doesn't really ravel, so you could also very carefully cut the edges and leave them alone.
- If you're worried about hurting the lace: When you're sewing it, a straight stitch along the edge of the pieces will help keep it from stretching.
- If you're worried about seams showing through: You could use organza to stabilize the lace and make it less sheer. Cut the lace and organza as one piece and sew or pin them together before constructing the garment--the organza is your interlining and will make it much easier to hem and, depending on your full lining fabric, just a little more substantial.
- Also: Threads Magazine online has a fantastic issue for working with lace (embellishing it, too). Might even have several posts online to view.
Other Sewing Circle tips and examples of lace projects: