Lace Top Tutorial

I love me some lace! I wanted to make myself a little something pretty while I’m in the middle of making a bagillion gifts and things for an upcoming craft fair.

In its former life it was an old frilly lace grandma curtain — ruffles, big bow tie backs, the whole gaudy shebang.

All that is gone. Now it is simple and classy. Just the way I like my lace.

Start with some lace!

Look for something that’s soft with a non directional pattern. Also, bonus points if it has a finished edge something like this! Because you give yourself less work to do! I like that.

Now I didn’t follow a specific pattern to make this. I used two shirts that I had the elements I wanted — one for the neckline and one for the shoulders and sleeve shape.

I laid out my one shirt over two layers of lace and cut a generous rectangle around it.  My nice edge in the above photo is going to be the bottom of the shirt.

Next fold the two layers of lace in half lengthwise.

Fold your shirt in half and lay it on the lace — folded edge on folded edge.

Cut around the shirt leaving a generous half inch. It’s better to leave a little room than find out it’s too small later. You can always take it in. For the sides, I wanted it to be loose so I just went straight down from the armpits.

You’ll now have two pieces of lace like this.

{ha your eyes are probably telling you that it’s way out of focus — it’s not!}
Now take one of the pieces of lace and fold it in half like it was before. Take a shirt that you like the neckline from and fold it in half and place it on the lace — folded edges on the same side. Cut along the neckline edge. This is the back of my shirt.
Take the other piece of lace and do the same except use the front neckline. I lined up the shoulders from both pieces (the front and back).
Now unfold your pieces and lay them on top of each other. Right sides out (I found my lace didn’t really have a specific front and back sides). Pin along the sides, under the armpits and across the shoulders. We’re going to do French seams!
Sew where you pinned using a quarter inch seam allowance. My sewing machine had a couple hiccups while it was sewing the lace probably because some of the parts are so open.
At this point you can try it on and see if any adjustments need to be made.
Next trim very close to the stitches you made.
Now turn your shirt inside out and iron along the the seams. What you’re going to be doing is encasing the first seam you made inside of the another seam. This gives a nice clean inside seam! It looks nice and professional.
After you have ironed and pinned, sew the seams again. You will then have a pretty inside seam like this:
Once you have finished the shoulders and sides, it’s time to finish the arm and neck holes.
From some of the lace ruffles I cut off about 3/4″ of the edge. You could also use bias tape or ribbon.
With your shirt right side out, pin this edging to the neck and arm holes. Rough edges together. I apologize if these next steps are hard to see. The lace is hard to photograph.
For the ends of the edging pieces, fold one end over…
and overlap it with the other end.
Then sew using a quarter inch seam allowance.
After you have done that, turn your shirt inside out. Take the nice edge of the edging and fold it over the seam you just made, pinning as you go. Again, you are encasing the rough edge inside another seam.
Finally sew where you pinned, giving the arm and neck holes clean finished edges!
When you’re done, put it on! You’ll feel proud and and look pretty!
It took me three-ish hours to make it.
Enjoy! As always, let me know if you have any questions!
HambergoosaNovember 15, 2011 - 4:38 pm

That is beautiful! I think I’ll be making a prego version!

veeNovember 18, 2011 - 3:40 am

So pretty!! Awesome job!

Julia NeymanJanuary 23, 2014 - 6:43 am

This is really pretty! How hard do you think it would be to make it?

Zulay MendezJanuary 25, 2014 - 8:49 pm

ME GUSTA VOY HACERME UNA CUNDO TENGA LA TELA GRACIA DIOS BENDIGA SUS MAÑOS

Candice FarnsworthFebruary 26, 2014 - 2:52 am

we have a lace top in the retail store i work in, that goes for $45. i already thought about recreating one and this helped make up my mind! looks fab!

Jeanie Wood WatkinsMarch 3, 2014 - 4:07 pm

Great tutorial–I love making my own patterns! Thanks!

DianeApril 3, 2014 - 11:54 pm

have some old lace curtains I wanted to use for a similar project…thanks for the great instructions and beautiful relusts..can’t wait to get to this project myself!

TootsNYCApril 12, 2014 - 6:04 pm

Love that you used curtains! It’s a nice, unusual-ish lace, which the curtains bit explain. Trying to find a lace that isn’t boring or predictable in your average fabric store isn’t that easy. But curtains would be a terrific source. And they’d have that finished edge.

The finished edge isn’t *just* something that makes it easier.

If you look at really high-end clothing (Bergdorf Goodman-style high end), you’ll see that having a woven edge on the clothing is very common. So you weren’t just scoring on the “I’m lazy” front–you scored on the “this is classy” front!

Phylis MullenApril 23, 2014 - 1:55 am

Love this idea!

Truusje Wiersma-SiepelApril 27, 2014 - 10:11 am

fabulous! Love the way you use vintage lace and sew it!!

ESMERALDAJuly 6, 2014 - 4:27 am

GRACIAS ME ENCANTO TU BLUSA, BUENA IDEA

kiaAugust 11, 2014 - 10:42 pm

I love it

Patti CottrellAugust 13, 2014 - 6:07 am

Now i know what o do with all my old lace curtains!!!

KatieOctober 30, 2014 - 12:55 am

Love this!

Barbara BrasuellJuly 12, 2015 - 5:39 pm

Have been looking for some light weight to make covers to wear to church to cover my arms this sounds like the perfect thing with a little adjustment on the arms Thank you

Nanmi ZimikJuly 29, 2015 - 6:09 pm

this is very beautiful! i love it! thank you. looking forward for more tutorials like this.

Nanmi ZimikJuly 29, 2015 - 6:09 pm

love this tutorial! simple and pretty!

Hilde DenysSeptember 2, 2015 - 2:15 pm

wow, looks very professional!

[…] (image source) […]

Olivia ChambersJanuary 22, 2016 - 7:27 pm

This is so pretty. :) Thank you for the tutorial!

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