Embroidering & Assembling Lace Elements with Plain Edges

In this tutorial you'll learn to make relatively complex lace projects that include multiple lace elements with straight edges, which must be assembled together. As a result of reading through this article, you should be able to make any project similar to this lovely Dantela lace placemat:


If you take a very close look at the photo, you may notice that the lace frame around the placemat consists of several pieces. They have all been embroidered separately (due to hoop size limits). Then they've been assembled together and attached to fabric base. The same applies to oval lace decoration in the middle. It was embroidered and then sewn onto the fabric base.

Because the lace frame consists of corner and border elements, naturally you can make it larger or smaller by inserting more (or less) border elements. You decide about the size, and it's possible to make very large projects this way. Just be sure to start from something small, to practice before you continue with larger items.

This project was created using Dantela Lace designs in antique Italian style.

Detailed Instruction for Making The Placemat

1. Embroider all lace designs that you will need for assembling the project, using 2-3 layers of water-soluble stabilizer - fabric, on lowest speed your machine allows. The number of Water-Soluble Stabilizer layers depends on type of backing you use, and on design density; for Dantela lace designs we've always used 2 layers of fabric WSB

Attention: It may seem to you that one layer of strong WSB is enough. Yet, many machines start breaking thread terribly, when only one layer on WSB is used. We've noticed that often an extra layer of water-soluble just solves this problem. So avoid trying to save an extra layer, even if your WSB is very strong. And if you still see many thread breaks with 2 layers - try to add a third one.

It's best to embroider each section in separate hoop. For each design, try to pick up the smallest suitable hoop you can.

Make sure that hooped WSB can't move, even slightly. If your hoop is far from perfect, and holds fabric badly - consider purchasing a new hoop with special metal spins. This is quite a small expense that can take your embroidery to a totally new level. Most machine dealers now carry those wonderful new hoops with spins. As a temporary solution, you can wrap a paper towel around one hoop frame, to add friction and prevent your backing from moving.

After you've stitched all lace pieces, cut away large edges of water-soluble backing around each design, leaving about 1 inch from each side. Position the laces on plain surface in correct order, like this:

Position the laces on plain surface

WHILE THE WSB STILL THERE, position all lace pieces PRECISELY like they should be on finished project, and attach them together, using sewing pins:

position all lace pieces PRECISELY

2. Sew all pieces together on your sewing machine (use zigzag stitch).

Sew all pieces together

3. When all frame details are attached, wash away the water-soluble fabric.

Be sure to wash it away carefully, without stretching or deforming the lace. If you want the lace to be as soft as possible - you may even leave the item in warm water for half an hour or so, to make all water soluble substance go away.

Once the backing dissolves, position the lace symmetrically on plain surface covered by a towel, and straighten the lace with your fingers, to make sure it gets back to it's ideal shape. Any deformation will be especially noticeable on item that must be symmetric, so be thorough and careful when performing this step. Let the lace dry. You may use iron & towel to speed up the process.

Attention: it's a good idea to wash away the backing at this early step ONLY in certain cases. For example, this placemat project is large and it is easier to continue working with it without the backing. In other cases, it may be better to sew the lace parts to fabric while WSB is still there, and wash away the backing only when the project is assembled completely.

Project is assembled completely

4. Position the lace border over fabric base, mark the inside edges on fabric using disappearing textile pencil, and cut away the edges leaving about 1/2 inch allowance around the marks, and pin the lace to fabric base.

Position the lace border over fabric base

5. Sew the lace frame onto the fabric base, using regular running stitch. Use same thread color like on the design top. Use invisible thread ONLY if you have absolutely no choice. We've also noticed that 60wt bobbin thread works much better for this purpose than regular 40wt embroidery thread. That's another reason to use prewound color bobbins in same color like your top thread. You can then use the bobbin on top, when sewing the lace to fabric base. Repeat steps 4 to 6 with the lace medallion decoration.

Project is assembled completely

6. Cut away the excess fabrics edges, and finish the edges on your sewing machine, using small and relatively dense zigzag stitch, in following manner:

Cut away the excess fabrics edges

7. Ready!


Dantela Lace for Table
6 project-oriented lace designs for making tableware items and other home decor stuff. 5x7-inch hoops.
Water Soluble Backing
Great for freestanding lace and cut-work designs