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Make Custom Lace with Machine Embroidery

Machine-embroider trims and motifs to match your next garment
Threads #215, Fall 2021

Well-chosen lace embellishments that complement your fabric and design elevate your garments to couture level. However, finding just the right trim can be difficult. Often, lace trims are available only in black, white, or ivory. Motif sizes and styles are also limited.

Custom lace is easy to make. With even a basic embroidery machine, you can stitch lace that coordinates perfectly with your garment. There are thousands of digitized lace designs available online, so you can readily find motifs that suit the look you want. Embroidering your own lace means you are virtually unlimited in color choice and, by varying thread weights, you can control the thickness of the lace you create.

Design decisions for custom lace

custom lace drace with embroidered appliqué flowers
A wide embroidered custom lace border finishes a dress that also features an elaborate embroidered appliqué. Fabric: MoodFabrics.com. Appliqué design: Designer Roses, AnitaGooDesign.com.

The first step is to select an appropriate design. The kind of lace shown throughout this article is called freestanding lace: It has no fabric foundation. To make it, you need embroidery motifs that have been digitized to stand on their own after a washaway stabilizer has been removed. Be sure you select designs described as freestanding lace. This type of lace is digitized with supporting underlay stitches that hold the designs together even without a fabric foundation. Some non-freestanding designs look like lace but are intended to be stitched out on a supporting fabric. These are not interchangeable with freestanding designs.

Sources for well-digitized designs include Oklahoma Embroidery Supply and Design, or OESD (EmbroideryOnline.com), Sue Box (SueBox.com), John Deer’s Adorable Ideas Vintage Lace collections, and many others. The John Deer designs were digitized from 1950s punch cards for the bridal industry and are especially appropriate when you want a lightweight, flexible lace. Digitizing freestanding lace requires unique…

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