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Sew a Custom Guipure Lace Jacket

Get a seamless look with well-chosen materials and techniques
Threads #218, Summer 2022

Guipure lace is an openwork fabric that offers depth, pattern, and sheen to any design. It’s used in garments from special-occasion gowns to pencil skirts, and is usually supported with an opaque fabric. But you can fashion an elegant, filigree-effect jacket by backing the lace with sheer tulle. The resulting garment is surprisingly versatile. It can be worn over a formal dress, or with jeans and a blouse or camisole.

The guipure lace shown falls in the category of embroidered, or Schiffli, laces. It was machine-embroidered onto a backing that was dissolved away, leaving just the embroidery stitches as the lace. In guipure lace, the stitching is often made with silk or rayon threads over thicker foundation threads, so the motifs are dense and raised, with a slight sheen. Guipure comes in a wide range of colors and is well-suited to garments with simple lines: The lace itself makes the statement. 

While beautiful, this lace can be troublesome to work with. Its construction results in a fabric that has give in all directions and sizable holes. This presents challenges in construction and wearing. I’ll show you how to cut, mark, stabilize, and sew guipure lace with an appliqué seam. If you plan to bind the outer edges, you’ll find instructions online for staying them first.

Guipure works best with a fabric backing to stabilize it. This backing also makes it easier to wear as you are less likely to catch fingers or jewelry in the lace fabric. My preferred method uses a fine tulle, sold as bridal illusion veiling, as an interlining (you might call it an underlining) to stabilize the lace, while ensuring it remains transparent. Although there are many steps to follow when sewing a guipure jacket, the finished garment will be a classic piece…

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