Lace: Hemming


The biggest design challenge I had while making my lace skirt this month was what to do about the hem. At first I imagined I’d use the scalloped edge the lace came with.  Even once I realized that one side of the lace had large scallops and the other side small scallops (you can see what I’m talking about in the left photo above – both scalloped sides are facing each other along the vertical strip of blue skirt), I still imagined I’d used the scallops as the hem.  The reason I didn’t was because I wasn’t thinking and didn’t order enough to account for preshrinking.  The scalloped ends were no longer wide enough to wrap around the skirt.

I thought of dividing the skirt into vertical panels and only using the lace in center front and center back panels.  But,  my husband didn’t seem to like the idea.  I tried all kinds of weird drapey things to see if I feature the scallops nicely in some form or other.  Finally, when I was reading through Claire Shaeffer’s Couture Sewing Techniques for inspiration, the following sparked my imagination:

Another finishing technique that I saw recently is most unusual.  The garment was finished first with a narrow hem.  Then motifs cut from the lace fabric were applied at regular intervals to the hem edge.  To select a lace for this technique, look for one which has design motifs which are simple, repeating, and no larger than 4 in. in diameter–the larger they are, the more difficult they are to work with.  In this way, you are creating a unique scalloped-edge finish.

The last idea, “creating a unique scalloped-edge finish”, is what really got me.  I studied my lace to see if I could use its own repeating motif to create a scallop without having to do any of the transplanting (I wouldn’t have had enough lace for that anyway!).  Lo and behold I could see one!  I decided then and there to use the original edge scallops vertically.  The only problem was how to switch from the regular scalloped vertical edge to the irregular scalloped horizontal edge.  Again following tips I found in Claire’s book, I settled on appliqueing some of the extra scallops into a pleasing curve.

The scalloped edges are cut from lace yardage, then sewn to the garment to trick the eye into thinking the edge originally had a shaped configuration.

The cut trim piece can be a scalloped or straight edge, from the same or a different lace, or it can be a separate narrow lace edging applied to the garment edge.  Both can be applied to any shaped edge as well as to adjacent edges.

So, after a few careful snips, care with placement, and some hand stitching, I had a nice transition from the vertical scallops to the unique scalloped hem. It turned out better than I had ever imagined!

I hope all of these lace posts have inspired you to try out sewing with lace. Or, at least encouraged you that sewing with lace isn’t that scary and can lead to quite a fun adventure!

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