Hello! I'm Suzannah, a serious DIYer and mom of two little ones. Follow along with my DIY fixer upper house renovations, sewing and crafty projects, real food recipes, and de-stressing goals.
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Sewing Circle: What to make with net or lace that isn't too bridal?

This question from Cindy, who wanted some ideas for sewing with net or lace--which reminds me, just FYI, I have another Sewing Circle post in the works to answer some of your questions about how to sew on lace! So keep that in mind as you read on...

Q: I have quite a bit (2.5 yards or so) of this stretchy dotted white net/mesh fabric (similar to this one [right], but more meshy and tinier dots). I love this fabric, but I can't figure out what to do with it! Everything I've looked at online seems to suggest bridal (either as a veil, or underlined with white to make a dress), but there must be something I can make that's more everyday-wearable! Do you (or your readers) have any suggestions? 

A: Very fun! Never fear, there’s a LOT you could do with that net and no need for it to look bridal. My main suggestion is to use it as a very pretty sheer overlayer on basically ANY dress out there that you want to make. It’s sheer, obvs, so it’ll just be the trim/decoration on the other fabric that you use. The easiest way to do this is by treating the sheer net as the outer fabric and then using a substantial lining fabric in a color you like.

Here are some examples of this technique from my archives:
  • Lace over strong weight cotton twill, no separate lining (bound at neck and sleeve edges)
  • Stretch net over a heavy stretch fabric, no lining. I added trim at the neckline to cover the seam allowance where I sewed the net and inner fabric together. NOTE that I put the darts in AFTER sewing net and fabric; they are concealed on the outside, but do show on the inside because there’s no separate lining.
  • My friend made these lace and net overlay dresses, with all of her darts showing through the lace and net on these dresses. Look at the black/tan one in particular. You could easily do something like this, but I'd suggest using stronger lining and cutting very carefully. And I recommend putting your darts in last, so they don’t show; if you want the triangles they give when they show, then put them in the dress fabric normally but put them on the “wrong” side of the lining, so they also face onto your body rather than out toward the sheer layer. Then the lining darts won’t show through, at least.
  • Hard to tell, but I did the same thing here on this princess-seamed dress, so no darts to worry about, just the seam allowances—but they don’t really show. In this case, with this style of dress, I made the outer net/sequin part and made the lining separately, same as you would do with ANY fully lined dress. Then put them together and it was fine! I used a basic woven cotton lining.

Of course, with most techniques your seam allowances will show through the lace, like on the side seams and at the neck edge, so if that bugs you, then treat the lace as an extra layer (like how you put a blanket on top of the top sheet and then tuck them both in together at the foot of the bed), and put it on top of whatever color you want that is also a fashion fabric layer—and line it with anything.

Here’s an example of this technique from my blog:

You can use generally either of these techniques with virtually ANY pattern that you like, like I said! Seriously! Here's some ModCloth inspiration: net or simple lace overlays on super basic dress styles:

Of course, you can also use a pattern that’s made for a sheer layer, like one of these, and get a little fancier/show off the net:
Of course, on most of those, you have to finish the net edge, which is usually really tricky and can be messy. Sewing right sides together, pressing, turning, and understitching is much easier! (like any of the dresses I've blogged and listed above). And for the inside seams on something like M6505, where the shoulder seams will show, you can use French seams to cover raw edges. You will still have extra layers of lace at the seam, but they'll be neat. And at the armholes, you can use a faux French seam. (Although, with a slightly stretchy net or lace, this style wouldn't work as well.)

But, I think if you want to look less bridal, you  may want to stick with any ol' pattern, not one that's meant for a sheer or lace treatment. Just add a net or lace layer, in one of the methods I mentioned!

Okay, readers, what do you think?? What would you make with a bunch of white dotted net, that wouldn't look bridal?


  1. I think the problem of having it look "bridal" hinges on the fact that your fabric is white. I would suggest pairing it with a coloured lining or underlining or try dying it. If you leave it white, I'd try pairing it with any pastel or grey or black.
    As far as every day wear?? For me, this does not mean a dress. I'd be more inclined to use it in separates ie: a top with a mesh yolk and sleeves or as an overlay on a gathered skirt with a wide elastic waistband.

    1. Good call on the color behind. Lots of fun options!

  2. I love this post. I have several colors of lace fabric that are lying in my stash wanting to be sewn and I have worried about it being too dressy. These ideas really help me. I have some cobalt blue lace, some yellow lace, and some dark green lace. Thanks for these ideas.

  3. Great minds think alike they say. I'm making a dress for a wedding at the moment and I used the lace as an extra layer. I used contrasting fabrics: red lace over a gold satin fabric. First, after I cut the parts, I serged the red lace and gold fabric together, making sure that both fabrics had the right sides facing upwards (so not to each other). Then I sewed it all together to form a dress as normal. And last I put in the lining. This way there are no darts showing, nor any seamfinishes.

    I agree with Thumbelina: if you don't want your dress to look too bridal, just keep away from an all-white dress and it'll be fine. There are numerous colorvariations you can use, it just depends on what you like. If you have white lace, you could underline (the technique I used as explained above) it with blue, red, yellow, black, ... anything you want to get the vibe you want from it. Oh, and the kind of fabric you use does make a difference: a satin will look a bit more 'soffisticated' and 'festive' than lets say a linnen.

    1. Serging together would work great if you can do it. And colors behind are fun!

  4. I would just use a much brighter color under a white mesh - hot pink isn't bridal! Also, now I really want to know how to do the shirring...ish on that green Modcloth dress.

    1. Shirring can be pretty simple, but you have to calculate how much bigger to cut the pieces. I did shirring on my wedding dress and just cut everything bigger than I thought I'd need it, then gathered and sewed to the main dress along the gathering seams, then cut off the excess. There are photos of many stages of it! http://www.adventuresindressmaking.com/search/label/wedding%20dress

  5. Anonymous7/17/2012

    I think this lace skirt is beautiful : http://handmadebycarolyn.blogspot.co.nz/2012/06/gadding-about.html



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