If you’re wondering how to sew a shirt with lace fabric in the back (like this example) or really any garment that uses lace for part of the garment, then I’ve got a few tips for you! This example is an Ultraviolet Tee sewn out of a lightweight knit front with a loosely woven lace back, but you can use these same tips to combine lace and woven or knit fabric in so many different creative ways.
1. Consider your pattern. You’ll find it easiest to sew and get the cleanest results if you select a pattern that has the fewest seamlines in the section that you would like to be lace. Each seamline is a place where you need to finish or hide the edges of the lace (since you can see through the lace to see the seam allowance on the inside) so the fewer times you need to do that, the better. I’ve used my Ultraviolet Tee pattern for a lace back – since the back and sleeves are cut as one it’s simple and striking! If you have your heart set on using a more complicated pattern, get creative with your lace placement. For example, if you want to sew a lace back in a blouse that has a yoke, why not sew the yoke out of your main fabric and use the lace on the bottom portion?
2. Pick a lace with similar properties as your main fabric. While most rules are meant to be broken, it’s a good starting point to look for a lace that is similar to your main fabric. Consider weight, stretch, and drape. In this example my main fabric is a bit drapier and my lace fabric is a bit heavier, but they wear similarly enough that the garment looks cohesive and the front and back behave similarly. Also, my lace has mechanical stretch to it because it’s such an open lace so it behaves similarly to a knit. There are many different kinds of lace and some will stretch (without being a “stretch lace”) and some won’t.
3. Tack your seam allowances toward the main fabric. For the prettiest results, you don’t want your seam allowances to be visible through the lace, so anywhere that your main fabric and your lace meet, press the seam allowance toward the main fabric and topstitch it in place.
4. Consider your neckline. The neckline is another place that you don’t want to see a seam allowance through your lace so think carefully about your neckline finish. On either knits or wovens you can use a knit neckband, press the seam allowance toward the neckband, and topstitch through the neckband. A bias facing would show seam allowances but a bias binding is a great option for a clean finish.
5. Think about underlining. Want to add an interesting pocket or other embellishment? Use your lace underlined in your main fabric so you don’t have to worry about clean finishing. Want a bit more modesty or warmth than large swaths of lace provide? Underline all the lace you use. Or get creative – a yoked blouse would look great with the yoke underlined and the bottom all lace. (Read more about underlining here).