Putting the Edge On: Lace, Lace, Lace


Torchon crocheted lace edging, as seen in PieceWork May/June 2015, page 50.

Have you ever noticed how some English words can work magic simply by their sound? I hear them and get a little light-headed. Chocolate. Money. Kittens. Lace. The word alone calls up images of christening gowns with delicate edgings, shawls with glorious all-over patterns, embroidered bodices on wedding gowns, and so much more. Lace can make simple garments interesting, transform plain camisoles into works of art, turn ordinary linens into heirloom pieces, and so much more. It doesn’t even have to be visible to the outside world–lace can work its magic even if you’re the only one who knows about it.


One-Seam Maxi Skirt, as seen in Stitch Summer 2015, page 54.

So PieceWork‘s annual lace issue in late spring always thrills me. I pull out my favorite knitting needles, because lace makes the perfect project for warm weather. I think about learning to tat, because tatted edgings have such delicacy and beauty. I even consider crocheting, which is not often my handcraft of choice. And then I think about adding miles of beautiful lace to my sewn garments. Few other embellishments come in so many styles, colors, and flavors. Lace can be created in so many different ways, and it can produce so many different effects, from frilly girlishness to Victorian steampunk to simple drama.


Elizabeth Tote, Stitch Summer 2015, page 56.

PieceWork’s new issue includes a stunning Torchon crocheted lace edging inspired by a length of bobbin lace from the 1856 shipwreck of the steamboat Arabia, miraculously salvaged from the dig site despite its tiny size. This project can adorn the new lightweight shells I have planned to sew from silk dupioni. Imagine a V-neck shell with a mitered edging along its neckline, barely visible under a blazer or cardigan; it will be fabulous.

My wardrobe typically features simple lines and colors with lots of texture from high-quality fabric. Blazers don’t usually work for me when they’ve got lace on the welt pockets. But hidden lace—that’s the way to add some magic to my closet!

Interweave Stitch has also become a source of inspiration for me. Few sewing projects can rival a skirt for simplicity and usefulness; a little handmade lace will keep the same pattern lively. The summer issue’s One-Seam Maxi Skirt doesn’t have to be striped; in a solid or floral fabric, the Torchon lace edging around the waistband would add lovely detail. I also have to make the Elizabeth Tote, made with Tula Pink’s “Elizabeth” fabrics, and this lace edging would make a lovely ruff around Her Majesty’s shapely neck.

If you’re a sewist, you’ll find all sorts of ways to marry needlework and fabric projects by looking at PieceWork alongside Stitch. My summer sewing may well extend through the autumn!