Lace Fabrics for Sewing Projects: So Many Types!

lace fabricsLace was once reserved for only the nobility. It was expensive and scarce. Fortunately, we live in an age of affordable lace fabrics with wide availability and tremendous variety. Here is an introduction to lovely lace fabrics.

Lace Fabrics

Bridal shops and fabric stores use special terms to describe the different lace fabrics. Alencon lace is named after a town in Normandy, France has motifs outlined by a heavy white cord. It is widely used for wedding gowns. Chantilly lace is more delicate in appearance, while Cluny lace is much heavier than either Alencon or Chantilly. Lace fabrics may also be beaded or embroidered for extra sparkle or color. Point d'esprit or dotted Swiss are sheer woven fabrics with a pattern of allover dots.

lace fabrics

A wedding dress incorporating Alencon lace.

An example of Chantilly lace. Courtesy:

An example of Cluny lace. Courtesy:

Sewing lace requires some careful cutting in order to place large motifs symmetrically. Many lace fabrics have a scalloped border which can be used as a finished hem on skirts and sleeves. Because most lace does not ravel, individual designs may be cut from larger pieces and used to trim veils or cover seams. Double galloon lace has two scalloped edges, making it especially useful for creating borders.

Heirloom Sewing Lace

White cotton fabric may be embroidered around small holes to create eyelet fabric, a type of lace. When strips of narrow cotton trims are joined to create a larger piece of fabric, the technique is called heirloom sewing or French hand sewing (although it is often done by machine now.) Trims with two straight edges are called insertions, as they are made to be sandwiched between other fabrics or trims. Trims with one straight edge and one shaped edge are called edgings because the shaped edge can be left plain as a hemline.

Lace Fabrics

Heirloom sewing is especially popular for christening gowns and other special garments for babies and young children. Nightgowns and other trousseau items also can be lovely in heirloom lace.

Knitted Lace

Very fine yarn and needles of small diameter are used to create knitted lace. The knitter follows a chart to make patterns of holes between areas of plain knitting. Shawls and scarves are popular projects for skilled lace knitters. Master knitters have knit entire dresses or wedding veils. Laceweight wool is the favored fiber for knitting.

If you're really interested in knitted lace fabrics, you may want to check out this

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Crocheted Lace

Fine steel hooks and crochet cotton are used to make lace trims by hand. Such lace may be found on heirloom pillowcases and handkerchiefs. Irish crochet is a technique in which individual floral motifs are joined together with a net-like background–all created with just a hook and thread.

lace fabrics

Novelty Lace

Lace fabrics and trims now go far beyond the traditional white or ecru. Lace comes in any fashion color. Lace may include metallic threads or multiple colors. Lace for sewing underwear and lingerie with Lycra fibers for stretch may adorn exercise leggings as well as underwear! Fashion designers now use lace in untraditional applications and combinations. Lace looks good on almost anything.

lace fabrics

Care of Lace Fabrics

Check labels on all lace garments to be sure you clean them properly. Home dressmakers should be sure to get care information from the end of the bolt for any fabrics purchased. Hand knits or crocheted items can often be hand washed, then laid flat to dry after being shaped properly again. For wedding gowns, look for a cleaner with special expertise in bridal fabric care.

Enjoy using and wearing lace every day or for special occasions. Don't be afraid to try making your own lace items, too.

If you're interested in more sewing projects using lace fabrics, please let me know in the comments below and I'll put that on the list!

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15 Responses to Lace Fabrics for Sewing Projects: So Many Types!

  1. Nancy Stockman says:

    I saw a top in a Soft Surroundings catalog I am looking to replicate–simple white linen with a cotton lace overlay on the entire back. I can crochet so would love to make my own because basically I cannot find some to purchase

    • Mayra Cecilia says:

      Hi, Nancy, “the power of a woman and her hands are shown in her art” do make the top and share I would love to see it and if you want to add it to this article (with credits of course).

  2. Jean A. Williams says:

    I too, would love to learn more about sewing with lace. Some small projects would be ideal- I started a dress once with Alencon lace and could not figure it out. I finally just finished the dress with no lace and had a lot of pieces-still have many of them!

    Lace is beautiful and so in style right now, as I said earlier, small projects would be just great!

  3. Ava says:

    I would love to learn how to use lace in simple and elegant dressmaking. I’m still a beginner so not really confident yet. Also using lace in small gifts for friends and family, particularly for Christmas if you have time.

  4. Jacquie Tinch says:

    From the Secretary of The Lace Guild in the UK, it’s lovely to see beautiful hand and machine made lace used for clothes and your advice is much appreciated.

    It is very interesting how different some of the machine made lace is from their original hand made counterpart. Chantilly is very similar but the Alencon was originally a very fine needle lace, embroidered with an incredibly fine single thread and buttonhole stitches looked nothing like the Alencon example above.

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      Welcome and Thank you, Jackie! it is an honor to have you here. (roll the red carpet here) Any input on your expertise is greatly appreciated.

  5. Lynda says:

    Great article! Would love to see lace on casual clothing and stuff we use every day like purses etc. Thanks

  6. Marsha says:

    Hi Mayra,
    I love your patterns, tutorials and all the information you give us! Especially the free patterns !!! ? I would love to see how to make long sleeve tops with lace overlay. Thank you so much for all you do!

  7. Sherri says:

    I loved reading about the types of lace, thank you for sharing that.

  8. Vivian Oaks says:

    Yes, definitely!! I will need to make myself a couple of gowns for the future and would like to incorporate some lace in the designs, so the timing is perfect!! Thanks for asking.

  9. Jessi says:

    Hi Mayra,

    Thank you for the wonderful article. I personally love lace and still like to jump into my pronovias all over lace wedding dress at home, because it is just too beautiful not to be worn again 😉

    I would love to see some more sewing ideas with laces, especially underwear 😉

  10. Joy Senecal says:

    Would love to see baby dresses done in lace.

  11. Sharon Young says:

    Is there a place that sells lightweight lace? The store near me folded a year or so back. No other has filled that gap. I need lightweight lace for a veil.

  12. Cecilia Sánchez says:

    Yes, Í love laves and would love to read more about It.

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