Lace can be elegant & sophisticated. Lace can be simple & informal. Antique or modern. It’s a versatile fabric & trim that adds texture and visual interest, and who doesn’t want that! Here’s a little run-down about the types of lace and tips for sewing with it. If you have tips, please comment and share them with us! We’d love to hear from you!
General Types & Terms for Lace
Like almost all types of fabric, there are a lot of variations of lace. Chantilly, Alençon, Venise, Guipure, with galloons, sans galloons…There are definitely more types than listed here, but these are popular types that are widely available.
Chantilly– Bobbin lace which means it is produced using numerous threads on different bobbins creating a mesh foundation and motifs. Named after the city in France the lace is made, in floral and swirl designs on a fine net background, true Chantilly is made in France, same with Alençon
Alençon– Bobbin lace, similar to Chantilly except “re-embroidered” with the addition of silk cord, called cordonnet, outlining the design
Check out this video feature French women creating Alençon by hand! Wow! The next video features machine made Alençon which is totally hypnotic.
Venise– Needle lace created using a buttonhole stitch, motifs are connected by embroidered strands or bars called “brides” to create an open-work feel. A main visual difference is that you will not see a netting background with Venise & Guipure lace.
Guipure– Needle lace, very similar to Venise, but a little heavier. The word “Guipure” literally translates in French as “lace without any ground mesh”.
This video is helpful in seeing the construction of Venise & Guipure laces with a buttonhole stitch.
Galloon– Scalloped edges along the sides of the lace
Beard– Also called eyelash, the fringe threads that hang off the edge of scallops of Chantilly and Alençon…This is a sign of quality, not seen in mass-produced lace. True french laces are not more than 36″ wide and come in small yardage amounts.
- Use fine pins, like silk pins.
- Baste all motifs and seams.
- Press, press, press! Pressing is such an important step, not to be skipped! Use a pressing cloth.
- Always cut around motifs, never through them!
- Use an anchor cloth to start sewing. Since lace is an open weave fabric, you run the risk of your fabric getting sucked down into the machine. Here’s a great tutorial for this trick here.
- For appliqué lace details, simply cut around the motif as the yarns will not unravel easily. Place your appliqué where desired, or start from the center and mirror your design, ideally with basting, with pins, or in a pince a product like Washaway Wonder Tape or a basting glue stick. Then, use a zigzag stitch around the edge of your motif.
- For sewing seams of lightweight lace, stitch your seam allowance, then within the seam allowance, stitch again 1/4″ from the first line of stitching. Trim close to the second line of stitching.
- Always staystitch the neckline as open weaves stretch easily.
- Instead of seaming the hem or border lace, zigzag close to one edge and cut away the excess from underneath. This creates a continuous border.
- Seams are finished by: serging, French seam or simluated French seam, or a self bound seam.
- For hems, you can use the scalloped edge if your fabric has one. Or if you’d like some subtle body that is also flexible, you can face the hem with a lightweight horsehair braid.