Sewing · Uncategorized

5 tips for sewing with vintage lace

These delicate, unusual vintage lace doilies were wasted, hidden away in the dark of my linen drawer like a dinner set being kept for company and never seen. I think its so much better to use beautiful things in daily life, where they have the chance to be appreciated and loved.


Somewhere like, say … the front of a favourite t-shirt.

Antiqu lace_tshirt_upcycling_tutorial

Really, I shouldn’t have bought this lace in the first place. During my very last days in England, my beautiful friend N’gaire tempted me with an invitation to a vintage textiles fair. My London life had been packed into containers and shipped weeks earlier, and my suitcase was already at capacity (thanks in part to a week in Morocco and some unplanned linen and rug purchases). “I can’t go! You know what I’m like with fabrics! And vintage fabrics are worse!”

And sure enough, I was like that. And the vintage thing did make it worse. I came away with an armful of French linen flour sacks, a pair of Swedish embroidered curtains and these beautiful lace creations. The lace style is very distinctive; the main body is a neutral thread, but there are flashes of bright red, blue, green and orange.  Something about the lace makes me think they are Eastern European, though I’ve never seen anything like it before or since. Do you know?

5 tips for sewing with vintage lace:

1. Choose an appropriate colour background. I selected a dark blue cotton, that made both the neutral and coloured sections stand out. Had I used white lace, I may have chosen a pastel or oatmeal, which would have been a more subtle combination.

2. Press both the lace and the t-shirt. Your top priority is to keep everything flat and smooth, so start out with wrinkle-free fabric.

3. Use quilting tape to secure the lace. Quilting tape is strong, low-tack tape that holds firmly but comes away with leaving residue behind. When you’ve positioned the lace, tape down the edges to prevent it shifting as you manipulate the fabric.

Antique lace_tshirt_upcycling_tutorial

4. Keep a taut surface with an embroidery hoop. The hoop puts tension on the fabric, so that your stitches won’t pucker or distort it. I used a 9-inch hoop, and I rolled and pinned the excess fabric, to keep it clear of the needle.

5. Work your way out from the middle. Secure the centre first and then work your stitches outwards in concentric circles. This will prevent the lace skewing on one direction, but will also allows you make adjustments at the edges if things aren’t quite flat.

Enjoy! And if you think you may know the origins of my lace or have seen a similar style to this before, please do share! I’d love to know more about it.

Antique lace_tshirt_upcycling_tutorial

Antique lace_tshirt_upcycling_tutorial

Antique lace_tshirt_upcycling_tutorial


3 thoughts on “5 tips for sewing with vintage lace

  1. Beautiful Caroline, what a great use of lace. I’m enjoying your posts, I may even be tempted to get crafty.

    1. Lovely to hear from you, Nicole. I’m glad that you liked it. Now (or any other now) is just the prefect time to start making things. Have a go! x

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