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How to Shop for Lace

From the The Orange Lingerie Blog
How to Shop for Lace

Today is all about lace! In this post I am going to guide you through the process of shopping for lace to use with our Silk Collection patterns, in particular the Bellevue camisole which was designed for a lace treatment along the front neckline.

Using lace for our new patterns can change the entire look of the garment. From a quiet neutral motif that elevates a basic undergarment, to a colorful or bold lace that demands to be displayed, the choice of lace can change the look dramatically. Let's start by looking at some examples of the power of lace.

The following Carine Gilson couture lingerie garments use a delicate neutral color lace that is both narrow and tonally similar to the garment itself for understated luxe.

How to Shop for Lace Fabric

neutral lace treatment
model unknown - photo credit Carine Gilson

How to Shop for Lace Fabric

neutral lace treatment
model unknown - photo credit Carine Gilson

The Marjolaine garments below feature bold lace treatments;  the blue chemise using a bold color contrast and the bralette using lace to create a fun and playful texture. The green chemise goes bold by using a very wide lace and by combining different textures. 

How to Shop for Lace Fabric

bold lace treatment
model unknown - photo credit Marjolaine

How to Shop for Lace Fabric

bold lace treatment
model unknown - photo credit Marjolaine

How to Shop for Lace Fabric

bold lace treatment
model unknown - photo credit Marjolaine

For the two black camisoles designed as outwear, the lace color is matched to the silk allowing much of it to blend in with the garment, revealing itself only in small areas where there is no material underneath. For more of a lingerie treatment, the mint green camisole highlights and maximizes the use of lace with broad areas of lace and skin clearly visible.

How to Shop for Lace Fabric

cami as outerwear
model unknown - photo credit Cami NYC

How to Shop for Lace Fabric

cami as outerwear
model unknown - photo credit Fleur du Mal

How to Shop for Lace Fabric

lingerie lace treatment
model unknown - photo credit Fleur du Mal

Admittedly, when you start shopping for lace the selection can seem overwhelming. So. Many. Choices. Luckily, you can start by narrowing the field considerably by limiting your choices to non-stretch laces only.

We recommend non-stretch laces for the Bellevue camisole for ease of sewing and to give the bias cut silk some stability. It is also much easier to work with when applying the lace to bias cut silk. If you fall in love with a stretch lace (it happens to us all), you may still be able to use it, but that is a topic that deserves its own treatment some other day!

Now in terms of the type of lace best suited for the camisole, think fine, delicate and light weight. This means Chantilly lace is the ideal choice. I have also had some success with lighter Alençon laces but make sure they are light weight! The lace I used for the turquoise Bellevue sample (pictured at the start of this post) is on the verge of being too heavy.

Immediately below are two examples of great Chantilly lace choices for the Bellevue camisole.

How to Shop for Lace Fabric

8" ivory delicate floral Chantilly lace, made in France
photo credits Britex Fabrics

 

How to Shop for Lace Fabric

7" black chantilly lace, made in France
photo credits Britex Fabrics

This next Alençon lace will work on the camisole since it has a light motif outline and no added embellishment.  

How to Shop for Lace Fabric

3 1/2" white Alençon galloon lace with eyelash edge
photo credits Britex Fabrics

This next Alençon lace would be too heavy - note the beads and sequins in addition to the heavy motif outline.

How to Shop for Lace Fabric

2" ivory Alençon galloon lace with sequins & pearls, made in France
photo credit Britex Fabrics


While I love lace, there are certain types of lace I would avoid for the camisole. To start, I don’t recommend an allover lace fabric. While generally lightweight, it is difficult to piece together the motifs (if any) to create a structured neckline treatment.

In this allover lace you can see the beautiful motifs sprinkled throughout the material. To create a neckline treatment, you would need to piece the motifs together and manipulate them into a neckline shape.

How to Shop for Lace Fabric

taupe floral lace fabric
photo credits Mood Fabrics

Other laces that are not recommended; Eyelet, Guipure and similar laces (e.g. Cluny), Soutache, Venise and Valenciennes laces. While they are all quite lovely, they just are not quite right for the camisole neckline application. I would also exclude 3D, beaded and crochet laces. Each of these laces is pictured below in the order listed with some additional information in each photo caption.

How to Shop for Lace Fabric2 3/4" floral white eyelet lace (Made in Switzerland)
photo credits Britex Fabrics
Eyelet lace are usually used for heirloom sewing and with cottons and is not a good choice for a camisole neckline.

 

How to Shop for Lace Fabric

navy, gray and ivory floral tri-color Guipure lace
photo credits Mood Fabrics
I love this Guipure lace, but it would be too heavy to add to the camisole neckline.

 

How to Shop for Lace Fabricwhite Soutache lace, made in France
photo credits B&J Fabrics
Soutache lace is an Alençon lace that has a soutache cord re-embroidered around the lace motifs. That cord can make it too heavy for a camisole neckline.

 

How to Shop for Lace Fabric

5 1/4" ivory Venise lace
photo credits Britex Fabrics
I love looking at the detail on Venise lace, but again it is too heavy for the camisole neckline.

 

yellow 3D floral lace trim
photo credits Mood Fabrics

This '3D' lace is stunning, but those layers get heavy and the embellishment gets bulky. Too much for silk camisole neckline.


How to Shop for Lace Fabricbeaded floral lace in black and white, made in France
photo credits B&J Fabrics
I am dying over this beaded lace! While too heavy for the camisole neckline, I am dreaming of ways to use it for something!

 

How to Shop for Lace Fabric

2 1/4" white crochet edging lace, made in England
photo credits Britex Fabrics
Most commonly associated with doilies, this traditional crochet lace lacks the structure for a neckline treatment.

Now that we have narrowed the selection down to the most appropriate types of laces, it is time to consider the lace motifs. You want to look for Galloon style laces that have motifs and scalloped edges both sides of the lace. With motifs on both sides of the lace you can mirror the lace from one side of the neckline to the other. (Remember that lace has a right side and a wrong side, so you can’t just flip it over to mirror it, you need that second edge to do it properly.)

Of course, you can use a lace that has a scallop edge on only one side, however you want to be sure that you will be able to get a balanced look on the neckline since you will not be able mirror the lace.

13" ivory delicate floral Chantilly lace with scallops on both sides
photo credits Britex Fabrics

Motifs within the lace can vary greatly and it is important to find a motif that will fit nicely around the neckline. Keep in mind that you can always cut and piece the motifs of the lace to get the effect you are looking for. When evaluating motifs I look for the part of the motif that looks best at the center of the neckline and then think about how I would build it out from there. 

If you are shopping in person, you can take the front of the Bellevue pattern along with a swatch of your silk with you to lay under the lace to properly evaluate how it might look on the garment. Online, you can use the measurements provided by the seller for guidance.

If possible, I like to print out the lace to scale and place it on the pattern to evaluate it. This is really helpful because it allows for cutting motifs and playing with motif placements before committing to a decision using the material itself (something I always do before cutting into the lace).

How to Shop for Lace Fabric

Photocopy of lace placed on the silk fabric I wanted to use fora Newell slip skirt.

If you would like a few places to get started shopping, you can find a curated list of lace suppliers on the Resources page on our website.

Have fun shopping for lace and don’t forget to tag #BellevueCamisole and #OrangeLingerie to share your beautiful camisoles with me! If you still need to get the pattern, just click below!

 

 

2 Responses

Barbara Cooper

Barbara Cooper

August 20, 2020

Thank you for this excellent article! It was very informative and it gave me lots of ideas for adorning my me-made lingerie. I enjoyed all of the pictures of the various types of lace and beautiful lingerie. Thanks!

/anne...

/anne...

August 20, 2020

Hi, just a comment about the lace you called ‘crochet’ (I realise that is what Britex called it) – it’s absolutely not crocheted. It is in fact bobbin lace, made by interlacing thread on a dozen or more wooden bobbins. There are several styles of bobbin lace – the one above looks like Torchon. It’s quite fun to make. Vintage bobbin lace can be very delicate, or even made using metal thread. Unfortunately, these days the whisper-thin linen thread is no longer available. This is probably machine-made bobbin lace, but people still make it by hand.
Thanks for the interesting lace post!

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