Sewing A Lace Dress

Sew Over It Lace Dress

How do you sew a lace dress? With patience! I made this cocktail dress as part of a sewing class with Sew Over It. Guys, I can’t recommend this class enough. It is aimed at intermediates and comprises of four three-hour classes, plus homework, plus… Well, if you’re anything like me there will be a lot of extra hours spent indulging your perfectionist streak. I feel as though I have just emerged from a long, narrow, windowless corridor of sewing obsession. That’s a hobby for you!

Lace Dress CollageI ordered my lace online from … darn, I can’t remember! I think it was Stone Fabrics, but if that’s right, there’s none left. It’s a matt cotton lace. I wanted to be able to wear my dress at afternoon events, without any garish shine beneath sunlight. The lining came from John Lewis. The dress is underlined and then lined in the same fabric. For my underlining, I chose to use the reverse side of the lining fabric facing out to keep things looking matt.

The big surprise about lace is that it can be incredibly forgiving to work with. Sleeves eased in pretty easily and stitches just disappear. The challenge of lace is that it can stretch. I never hung this dress between classes; I kept it carefully folded. It’s important to insert hanging loops.

hanging loops

The stretch elements of lace inspired me to test myself with a new-to-me technique of stay taping necklines with a narrow red ribbon.

reinforcing neckline

In fact, there were lots of new-to-me techniques involved in the construction of this dress. I flew by the seat of my pants when it came to reinforcing the zip placement at the upper back, where I was dealing with a single layer of lace.

zip in lace

There are a gazillion details I shall share in other posts. A lot of the construction was shared in real time on Instagram and I’d like to thank all the people who left comments, encouraging me. It was an interesting exercise, showing the reality of making a dress at this level – the blood, sweat and tears. I hope it provided a window on what realistically goes into a sewing project. No magic sewing wand here!

This is one of the loveliest dresses I’ve ever made. A big shout out to Sew Over It and my teacher, Julie. She platformed kindness, patience, humour and expertise. What more could I have asked for? I’ll tell you what more – behind-the-scenes gossip from sewing wedding dresses for a living, that’s what!

Lace is in all the shops right now. Are you inspired to sew with it?

Lace Dress Details Collage

Lace Dress

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73 Responses to Sewing A Lace Dress

  1. monikamakes says:

    Oh wow, it looks amazing!

  2. monikamakes says:

    This looks amazing! Just wow!

  3. Jane says:

    This is probably, no DEFINITELY, my favourite of all the garments you’ve ever made Karen. I love the style of the dress, the colour and pattern of the lace and all the beautiful dressmaking details. It fits perfectly too. I’m very tempted to take the class now, or at least sew myself a lace dress, TOTALLY inspiring my friend! x

  4. Stunning! I’d love to tackle a lace dress but I’m a bit scared, so a class seems just the right way to approach it. I always love the things I spent more time on, so I’m sure this will become a treasured piece in your wardrobe.

  5. Ceri says:

    That looks stunning. Have enjoyed watching your progress on Instagram.

  6. Knockout dress Karen. The colour is stunning and the lace is exquisite. Well done on this project. It must be so rewarding to master new techniques.

  7. sewfrancie says:

    It’s stunning! I love the ribbon as stay tape idea. I’m going to have to try that.

  8. Claire says:

    I’ve done two Sew Over It courses, both with Julie (Intro to Dressmaking and Grace dress) and she is utterly amazing. Very patient and full of helpful tips. In fact, she told me about your blog, and I’ve just spent a week reading back through it! This dress is gorgeous. One day maybe…

  9. mrsmole says:

    Lovely result and lovely color. What pattern did you use?

  10. Jen (NY) says:

    Wow, that’s a fabulous dress! I’ve had a piece of corded lace in my stash for some time–not quite sure what kind of dress to make. The clean lines of your dress are in inspiration. Really looks terrific on you too!

  11. What a fabulous dress and so much to learn. Jo x

  12. Marianne says:

    So pretty! Looking forward to reading more about the details!

  13. It’s beautiful. The simple cut of the dress is the perfect foil for that lovely lace. Very inspiring, although I am a long way off tackling something like this!

  14. That’s one gorgeous and simply-styled dress Karen – very well done :-)!!!

  15. Suzanne says:

    So your post inspired me to see how to treat zippers with lace. And I googled and found this post which talked about how to do zippers with a specific kind of bulky lace, never would have thought of this: http://pinkhollybushdesigns.com/Blog/2012/10/sewing-guipure-lace-handling-seams-and-zippers/

  16. Sheree says:

    All the work that went into this dress is SO worth it. Style and especially the colour are perfect for you. Funnily enough I am on holiday in Devon this week, and will have to do a detour to Stone Fabrics.

  17. Hélène says:

    This dress was surely worth the “sweat, blood and tears”. You’ve got the most beautiful dress. Red is definitely your colour!

  18. Emily says:

    That is gorgeous!

  19. MarrieB says:

    Stunning! All that work was definitely worth it1

  20. S says:

    Love this and totally want to copy it! The silhouette is perfect. Classic and elegant.

  21. Hayley says:

    I’ve just sewn with lace for the first time, making a dress for my friend for her brother’s wedding and it was a nightmare to sew with, stretching all over the place when I underlined it. I would say I’m an advanced beginner, but there aren’t any courses near me which progress on from beginner so I rely on reading blogs for tips and trial and error to improve. I definitely feel sewing with lace has moved my sewing up a notch though as I had to treat it so carefully and set my machine to slow. You did a great dress, well done.

  22. Beautiful work- I’m too impatient to do special sewing very often, but it really pays off sometimes doesn’t it?

  23. Having also done that class I know how long it takes but what a fabulous job you have done. Do you think you’ll make another one?

  24. ellegeemakes says:

    Congrats! It’s stunning. I’ve often wanted to try my hand at a lace dress as well but have been intimidated by the process. I’ll have to check out that class! I love the button and loop. Nice touch.

  25. jemima says:

    You finished it! Well done – looks absolutely stunning. Mine hasnt left the bag since the last class :/ must get on with it! xxx

  26. Vicki Kate says:

    Wow, that is stunning! All those details really elevate it and it looks divine on you. One heck of a testament to your skill and patience as well as the class!

  27. ewa says:

    Lace dresses are my favourite ones! Yours is gorgeous!

  28. Louise says:

    I love your new lace dress. It’s beautiful and it suits you so so well. So worth all the work and learning. Very inspiring, thanks!

  29. Beautiful, very inspiring.

  30. Cindy says:

    Wow! This is really beautiful and perfect for you – fabulous work. Oh… and your shoes… why has no one else asked about those shoes?

  31. Louise says:

    What a beautiful dress Karen – well done!

  32. Lorna says:

    Wowsers, that is a beautiful dress. Lady in Red indeed! What a triumph. The colour suits your colouring perfectly. I bet it is a joy to wear. I particularly like the sweetheart shape neckline of the underlining. I would absolutely love to make something like this one day, maybe in black for Christmas or dark blue. It is such a classic design that I am sure you will be able to get a lot of wear out of….I would wear it at every opportunity – washing up, supermarket shop, putting the washing out…!

  33. definitely your color, very pretty

  34. Kimmy Rocket says:

    Lace has firmly been off the agenda for me…until now. Wow, I mean just WOW! Lovely job!

  35. rillafree says:

    This looks amazing and is a very alluring project!

  36. Danielle says:

    Beautiful dress Karen! You truly are fearless when it comes to trying something new. I love seeing posts like this!

  37. Liza Jane says:

    You look so fabulous. Red is your color. Gorgeous!

  38. This looks amazing! Yes, definitely inspired to work with lace and red lace at that!

  39. Yvonne Bennett says:

    No time to read all the comments, but whoa baby! You look AMAZING! The dress is absolutely gorgeous. Excellent work and it suits you perfectly. Wow!

  40. It’s delicious! Beautifully done. I ADORE sewing with lace for the reasons you said – it is challenging but really rewarding. 🙂

  41. Caroline says:

    Wow – this dress is beautiful, the colour is gorgeous and you have styled it to perfection. You should feel very proud of yourself.
    You should make Ella a matching lace cape / collar!?
    I have completed two SOI courses with Julie (Tulip skirts and 1960’s coat) and she is an absolute angel – so helpful and encouraging. I would highly recommend a class at SOI with her to anybody.

  42. wearawyatt says:

    Wow karen that is one beautiful dress. It goes to show that there is always something to learn with this hobby we partake in, and that we should definitely throw the odd project in to make us stop, think and inhale our skills. Yep I was going to do a lace dress for a wedding in August..not so sure now!!!

    • Go for it! You can definitely do it. Every type lace behaves differently, so if you’re nervous, maybe go for a more stable one to start you on your lace sewing journey? I sewed my first (3) lace dresses this year and love sewing with it. Time consuming, yes. Rewarding, very. Good luck!

  43. redsilvia says:

    Beautiful and a superb color on you. Great work!

  44. Really beautiful dress and the colour is fantastic on you. Those classes sound fantastic. xx

  45. susan says:

    Just stunning!

  46. A fabulous dress, Karen! You look stunning! I did not know the space, I’ll check it out, one can’t have enough courses to keep learning…

    • Karen, there are some gorgeous patterns in the Advanced Courses section, but can we buy those patterns? For example, could I buy yout lace dress pattern somewhere? It seems out of the dresmaking patterns section…

      • Some Sew Over It designs are available as patterns; some are taught in class only – as is the case with my lace dress. Lisa often releases designs as patterns for home use after they’ve been taught a while, so you may see these become available in the future.

  47. Jacana says:

    Beautiful dress and it makes you look stunning – well done Karen

  48. Ann says:

    Gorgeous dress Karen. Well done you. I wish there were courses like Sew it Over in Hereford at reasonable prices. I would love to make something as lovely as your dress under supervision.

  49. Gail says:

    Stunning! This dress is a keeper that will take you places for years to come.

  50. Jane says:

    Absolutely stunning.

  51. Carolyn says:

    This is stunning and you look fantastic in red!

  52. Marie Noelle says:

    Yes, this dress is the one I like best amongst the garments you made. I love everything, the colour, the style and the shoes you are wearing.

  53. This is absolutely glorious. Congratulations – your lace dress is a triumph! I have surprised myself by actually really loving working with lace. I’ve made three lace dresses this year, and found it so satisfying to sew. Yes, it’s more time consuming and has its own unique challenges, but I really enjoyed the learning curve and the process. Plus the results are pretty impressive! I find myself wanting to sew a red lace dress now….

  54. Barbara says:

    Stunning dress, beautifully made!

  55. lisa g says:

    This is absolutely gorgeous on you! You’ve executed the details so perfectly, what an accomplishment!

  56. SarahStar says:

    Wow, that looks AMAZING! Gorgeous work. I don’t think I’d have the skill (or patience!) to tackle it, certainly wouldn’t have made such a beautiful job of all those details. I’m especially dazzled by that zip!

  57. Beautiful job & the color & details are stunning

  58. That is one beautiful dress! Red is your color, Karen!

  59. Niki HMcN says:

    What a beautiful dress. Congratulations!

  60. Holy smokes! That is one stunning dress. I totally wing it when sewing with lace.

  61. Tereza says:

    So pretty and I love the afternoon aspect. You’ll definitely get more wear out of it! I just found a similar fabric two weeks ago. A matte, piped cherry red “X and O” patterned lace from Fabric Mart. I bought two yards (60″ w) for a simple dress. Thank you for the tips and class info! I need to get my nerd on!

  62. Hi Karen, I agree totally. It is the best dress you’ve ever made a d ivebeen watching and reading almost from day 1. It fits and suits you PERFECTLY. Wow.

  63. Audrielle says:

    This dress is so very beautiful!

  64. sewmanju says:

    Don’t think I commented on this: beautiful classy elegant dress. Hope you have some special places to wear this.

  65. Pingback: Lisa Comfort’s Sew Over It Vintage | Did You Make That?

  66. Kristine A says:

    That is a lovely shade of red! Your dress looked so elegant and sexy without showing too much skin! I haven’t tried sewing with lace before but would love to give it a try while following the techniques I learned from ACS (click here). Should a newbie like me even attempt to try sewing with lace?

  67. Nedoux says:

    Exquisite, beautifully crafted dress. Well done! 🙂

  68. Jones says:

    You did such a fantastic job! This dress is well-made and looks beautiful!

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