Color blocking with stretch lace

I love adding lace to tops for a semi open back look.  Its super cute and I don’t feel like my entire back is showing. Today I am working with a dolman style top from Patterns for Pirates, Sweet Tee.  Yes, I use a lot of their patterns, but that is because I love the fit and know they go through a lot of testing before releasing.   You can apply these steps to any pattern you’d like. ( A Sparkly Baby has a great one I use all the time- Pretty panel Tee)

Once you have your pattern printed and cut, you will need a pen or pencil and a ruler.  I will be drawing directly on my pattern piece.  If you want to trace your pattern first, I recommend using a large roll of tracing paper.  Let’s get started.

First you will need to decide how far down your back you want the lace to go and mark that spot.  Mine is pretty low, but I like that.  Next, mark 1/4 inch over from the neck line opening. Connect the two dots with a straight line.  This is where your fabric and lace will meet.

The next step is to add in your seam allowance.  I am using my serger and I know my serger will give me a 1/4″ seam allowance, without using the blade.  So I am going to draw one line on each side of my blue line 1/4″ away.  The red lines are my “cut lines”.
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Now I am going to lay my lace on top of my pattern piece.  It is important to get good quality stretch lace.  Walmart’s fabric section has some (sometimes) for around $5/ yard.  I like to buy a bunch when I am there and it’s available.  My go to source for stretch lace is Purple Seamstress Fabrics.  They don’t have it listed on their website, you will have to message them through their Facebook for their color options.

Back to cutting the lace…  I always get side tracked when talking about pretty fabric.
You can see right through your lace, so just lay it over your pattern on a fold.  You will be cutting on the farthest red line from the fold.

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After it is cut out, cut the fold open.  I find it is easier to do this than try to cut 2 identical pieces separately.  It is also easier to work with 2 halves than to try and sew them as one  “v” shaped piece.

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After your lace is all squared away, you will cut our your main fabric. Here I have a middle section and side section to cut.  If you want this look, you can get it by following the same basic color blocking steps as the lace.  You will need to draw new lines on your pattern.  Just remember your cutting lines will over lap each other.

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My pile of fabric cut and ready to start sewing.

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First, I am going to serge or sew my pieces with right sides together.  Yes, your lace has a right and wrong side.  when you get to the end of the lace, follow it right off the edge of the fabric.

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Here is the first half all sewn up.  Now, we need to top stitch our seams down.  For this I really recommend a twin needle.  Not only will it leave a nice professional look, but it will let the fabric move and stretch where it needs to.

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If your seams are a little wavy, just press them with an iron.  You can also check your bobbin tension.  That little screw on top of your bobbin casing, that is your bobbin tension.  With knits or stretch fabrics tension is key.  You can turn the screw (I just use my finger nail), just a little at a time to loosen or tighten the tension.

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Here is how the back will look after you use the twin needle to top stitch your seams.

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Time to sew them together.  With right sides together starting at the top sew straight down the center back seam.  when you come to the bottom of the lace, keep an eye on it so they match up nicely.  If you don’t have a serger, you can still sew the lace together.  Here are your steps.

  • Sew a straight stitch down the center, just like I said before.
  • Go back and sew a tight zig-zag stitch right next to your straight stitch.
  • Then you will fold over your seam and twin needle top stitch it down.

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Here is where you want to start to watch for the end of the lace.  When you get here, fold your seam over and serge/ sew right through it.

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That’s all for the modification portion of this top.  Continue on with your pattern.
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Just make sure you take your time on the neckband.  And you must top stitch this down – Yes, you need your twin needle, again.  🙂  If you need help with your neckbands, check out my post Neckbands 101.

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That’s it.  Not super hard, but it is super cute!
Just a note, if you have a cover stitch machine, this is the perfect time to get it out. You can substitute all the twin needle steps for your awesome cover stitch.

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Tutorial fabric used was from Pink Zeppelin Fabrics and Purple Seamstress Fabrics.

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