It’s that time of year, when lovely lace fabrics come to our attention. Many of these lace fabrics feature a decorative border that make the perfect hem edge on either a skirt or dress. In this masterclass you will learn how to work with border lace to create a stunning handmade garment.

Choosing a Pattern

If you are using these laces, choose a simple pattern with minimum seams and a straight hem edge.

Pattern Ideas for Sewing with Border Lace

Simple Sew Grace

This 8-in-1 dress and skirts pattern is designed with an optional over-layer, which is a fantastic opportunity to use a border lace.

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Choosing a Fabric

When purchasing a border lace you need to buy enough meterage for all the hems plus seams. Although many of these laces have a border on each selvedge, the pattern between the selvedge is often directional, so do check carefully when purchasing.

Fabric Ideas

Embroidered lace fabric available in seven shades, £16.99,

Prepare your Fabric for Cutting

Before you cut any fabrics, you need to establish the hemline. To establish the finished length I would advise making a toile. The lace, as it’s see through, needs backing. I would advise mounting the lace onto a crepe or a satin or maybe a silk dupion, I would also line the garment. I have chosen a black lace, that has a tulle surface with a black and silver grey embroidered floral design. I am mounting the lace onto crepe and lining with an acetate lining. (See Pic A.)

Pic A

Cutting out

Place your pattern onto your base fabric and cut out. With the pattern still pinned in position, fold the pattern along the hemline, to remove the hem allowance. Using double tacking thread, sew a row of loopy tacking stitches along the hemline fold.

Mark any darts, dots etc and remove the pattern and carefully separate the pieces cutting through the tailor tacks. Lay the front pattern piece flat on the table. Take your lace and decide whether your lace will sit above or hang below the finished hem edge. If your lace is sitting above the finished hem, centre the design to the CF and decide which part of the border will be closest to the finished hem. Pin in place. Once you are happy with your placement, cut around the lace. (See pics B and C.)

If however you prefer your lace to hang below the finished hemline, overlock off the hem edge, turn and hand stitch the hem in place on all the separate pattern pieces that make up,the hem edge. Lay the lace over the base fabric, and centre the design and pin in place, making sure the lace is overhanging the finished hem evenly.

Pattern matching

Cutting the back panels. If you are careful, and you have enough lace, you will be able to match the border through the side and back seam. This does however depend on the size of the pattern pieces and the size of the lace design. Cut the lace for the back. The next step is to secure the lace to the base fabric. To do this we are using vertical basting. This is a vertical tacking stitch.

Once you have inserted the vertical basting stitch, carefully press the lace and base fabric together - some lace may melt if the iron is too hot! -this is to stretch out the lace to the edges. Keeping the pattern pieces flat, tack around the edge of each piece to secure at the raw edges. (See Pic D.)

Pic D

Handling Darts & Seams

Now make your chosen skirt or dress according to the pattern instructions. When sewing any darts make sure the lace gets sewn in as well as the base fabric. On my skirt, when I inserted the lining I replaced the darts with little tucks. (See Pic E.) Think carefully about the finished neck or waist edge. Lace can be scratchy against the skin, so choose a facing without lace attached or maybe a bias binding finish. I chose to apply bias to the waist of my skirt. Enjoy making your border lace. (See Pic F.)

About Alison Smith MBE

Awarded an MBE for her services to dressmaking, Alison is an industry expert in classic couture and a published author. Alison has her own shop and line of patterns, and you can also learn with her at one of her exclusive workshops. Find out more on her website


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