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Create Painted Lace Trim

Apply dye with a bruch for multicolored effects.

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Venise lace trim dyed in dramatic tones can add elegance to a simple garment.

Painted lace trim, with its multicolored effects, can make lace appear sophisticated, fun, or even wild. Dyeing lace trim with a paintbrush opens a kaleidoscope of possibilities for color depth, precise application, and artistic blended effects. These options are difficult to achieve by simply dip-dyeing. Painting lace is an easy way to create a beautiful, unique detail for garments and accessories.

You can paint lace of nearly any fiber using the proper dyes, but lace made from rayon, especially Venise lace, takes color much better than any other. Rayon Venise lace trims have a wonderfully fluid hand and come in many designs and widths. Their heavier, satin-stitched motifs also provide substantial surfaces for you to paint with colors.

I use a kit of seven color dyes specially formulated for lace, and the colors can be mixed to expand the basic palette. Dye bonds to the fibers without changing the lace’s hand or feel, unlike most paints. Other good fabric dye options include Rit and Jacquard’s I-Dye and I-Dye Poly.

Use beautiful dyed lace trim to embellish anything you wish—garments, purses, frames, shoes, pillows, curtains, or even a pair of sweet anklets. You can also cut the dyed lace apart to use as appliqué or to create unique jewelry.

Painted lace trim shopping list

• Permanent Lace Dye Kit (, Rit Dye,  or Jacquard I-Dye or I-Dye Poly (

• Rayon Venise lace trim in any width (,

• Bottle dropper caps or eyedropper (the tip of a toothpick or spoon also works)

• Fine-mist spray bottle

• Old towels or paper towels

• Small dish, divided plastic plate, or other sectioned container

• Sumi-e or other paintbrush (

• Waterproof dropcloth or large plastic bag

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Go ahead: Pick up a brush

You can get different effects by using more or less water in the dye mix or on the lace. Using more water in the dye mix and on the lace encourages paler colors and a watercolor effect, and reducing the water in the dye mix and on the lace gives stronger, more saturated colors with less blending. Practice painting on a couple of lace end pieces.

1. Set up the workspace. Lay a plastic bag or dropcloth on a flat surface. Fill a fine-mist spray bottle with water, and keep it near the workspace for quick touch-ups and to keep unpainted lace damp as you work. If you are using the Permanent Lace Dye Kit, replace each bottle’s cap with a sealed dropper cap, then shake the bottles well. Position the divided dish on the dropcloth, along with the paintbrush and towels for blotting.

Gather your tools and materials, prepare your workspace, and mix the dyes to get the colors you wish to use. The Permament Lace Dye Kit is shown.

2. Squeeze one to two drops of each dye color onto a divided plastic plate or other sectioned container, and add 10 drops of water. The dyes are concentrated, so a little goes a long way. For stronger, darker color results using either wet or dry application, increase the ratio of dye to water.

3. Soak the lace in a sink or basin of water. Remove excess water by rolling the lace in a towel, until the lace is just damp. If the lace is lightweight or loosely patterned, spritz it with water from the spray bottle a little at a time as you paint. For the most distinct color separations and saturation, keep the lace completely dry.

Immerse the lace in water or spritz it with a spray bottle, depending on the color effect you want.

4. Load the paintbrush with dye, and paint on the lace. Venise lace absorbs dye quickly, so paint with a light touch and build up to the desired color depth. Use just the tip of the brush for precise application; to cover larger areas more quickly, use the entire brush head.

Build up the colors slowly with the dyes.

In a wet application, the dyes bleed together through the lace fibers.

Wet lace creates a blended, watercolor effect.

Encourage this watercolor effect by keeping the lace damp as you apply dye and using the brush to blend the dyes further. In a dry application, each color is separated from the next. The drier the lace and more concentrated the dye mix, the more distinct the color separations.

Dyes spread less freely on dry lace.

5. If the lace becomes oversaturated, blot away the excess. During a wet application, use a paper towel to remove excess dye. If you aren’t satisfied with your results, you can completely remove the dye from the lace. Note that dyes are darker when wet.

6. Overdyeing will darken colors that dry too light. Allow the dyed lace to dry completely, then paint additional layers of dye on any area where you wish to intensify the color or accent details of the lace’s design.  Don’t wet the lace again.

An extralight area darkens with added dye.

7. Dry the lace. Letting the lace dry naturally allows it to acquire a mottled appearance. Using a hair dryer to speed up the drying process reduces the migration of dye colors as the liquid evaporates, limiting the mottling effect.

8. Once the lace is dry, set the color. Iron it from the wrong side for about 2 minutes, using your iron’s wool setting. Heat-setting the color this way also softens the lace.

Iron dry, dyed laced on the wrong side to set the colors.

Tips for better lace painting

•  If you are using an expensive lace trim, buy a small amount of less costly lace trim in the same fiber to practice on. Test the dye-to-water ratio on a scrap first.

•  Some textile paints, such as Jacquard’s Dye-Na-Flow, can work nicely as a dye when mixed with water.

•  To achieve pastel shades, start with 20 drops of water. Then add a drop of color at a time, testing after each addition.

•  There’s no need to wash the brush when you switch colors in a wet application. But the brush should be cleaned between colors for a dry application, or use a different brush for each color.

•  While painting, the lace may appear darker than you wish. Allow it to dry most of the way to see the true color. The color will lighten as it dries.

•  To completely remove dye from painted lace trim: Fill a sink or basin with water, and add two to three tablespoons of bleach. Immerse the lace, and agitate it in the solution-most, if not all, of the color will be removed. Rinse thoroughly, then wash the lace with a gentle detergent, such as hand dishwashing liquid. Let it dry before repainting.

•  Dyed lace can be machine-washed in warm or cool water; place the lace-embellished garment in a mesh bag. It can also be machine-dried on medium heat or permanent press. Wash the lace-embellished garment alone to prevent abrasion and damage from contact with other garments and closures.

This painted lace trim article by Cindy Losekamp first appeared in SewStylish Spring Fashion 2012. Photos by Sloan Howard.

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  1. buggalcrafts | | #1

    Love this idea! Great way to get exacatlly what you want! I have "dyed" my natural raffia with a permenant marker when I needed just a little. This would prob work a treat on raffia too!

  2. Buttonscreates | | #2

    I really like this idea as well. It looks like an ombre effect.

  3. TheThreadLady | | #3

    Since I dye and paint all kinds of fabric all the time I was happy to see the advice to practice on a less costly piece of lace of the same fabric type first. I learned my dyeing and painting practices from an expert and that was one of her first tips---always practice on something inexpensive before you do the real stuff. It has saved me many, many heartaches over the years.

  4. User avater
    WillowMchenry | | #4

    I really apprciated yur ideas!!!

  5. User avater
    LoritaGable | | #5

    I reallly like yur ideas

  6. User avater
    JonaWilloughby | | #6

    Very creative ideas!!!!

  7. doreet | | #7

    I used a big piece of nylon lace,and I painted it light metallic green,and silver metallic.Strangely enough(I used fabric paint and fixitive) it made the lace stronger,and hardier.I had it in the storage room,for years,got it out,looked perfect still.The other job was painting a piece of lace gold,and I sewed sequins on it,made a necklace out of it.--this fabric painting can be pretty fun, but its as much work as sitting down to paint with oils,or other big art job. I never thought of using regular dye this way, great.gotta try it.Thanks.

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