Are you looking for a last minute party dress? A pretty date night dress? Try making a stretch lace dress, it’s much easier than you might think!
Here’s what you need:
– Stretch lace fabric
– Lightweight jersey knit
– Matching thread
– Clear elastic
– Ballpoint needles
– Pattern for a knit dress (I used the Colette Moneta pattern)
– Sewing machine
I love the simple, clean lines of the Moneta for this project. Several sleeve options, a turn-and stitch neckline and sizing up to 3XL. Of course you can use other knit dress patterns as well, just look for styles with a minimal amount of seams and, preferably, without a collar or neckband.
When I urgently needed a dress for a special occasion, I stumbled upon a beautiful blue stretch lace. I had never worked with a similar fabric before but, fingers crossed, how hard could it be? I decided to just handle it like I would do any other 2-way stretch knit. I had just finished a Moneta dress so I could skip fitting issues and I knew in this remake the fabric could be the star.
When working with lace, a nice way to deal with the sheerness is by underlining the bodice. The underlining will hide the seam allowances and prevent your lace from stretching out of shape. If you’re not familiar with this technique: you cut the underlining from the same pattern pieces as the fashion fabric. In case of the Moneta dress, you cut the bodice front and bodice back from the lace, and again from a lightweight knit fabric of your choice. Put the front and back lace bodice pieces on top of the matching underlining bodice pieces, both fabrics with right sides up. Pin or baste them together and from there treat them as one.
Play around with your lace before deciding on the colour of your underlining. Initially I wanted to use a champagne coloured knit but when I put the lace over a navy fabric from my stash I preferred the toned down look. When the pattern of your lace is more subtle, you might want to use a contrasting layer underneath to emphasize the lace design, like in this Asos dress:
Now do some test runs on your sewing machine or your serger to see what gives you the best results. I preferred the sewing machine, as it gave me just that little bit of extra control. I used a small zigzag stitch to sew the shoulder seams and added clear elastic to stabilize the seams as per the pattern instructions.
I then catch stitched the seam allowances to the underlining. I suppose you could skip that bit, but keep in mind the shoulder seams of a Moneta dress are only about 5 cm wide, so it’s not a lot of work for a beautiful finish.
For the sleeves I used a single layer of lace. The sleeves were set in flat, also sewn with a small zigzag. The seam allowances were catch stitched to the bodice underlining so they would not be visible through the sheer sleeves. I scooped out the front neckline, folded the neckline over and hand stitched it down.
It works! No gaping, even when I’m bending over!
After stitching the side seams and underarm seams it was time to come up with a plan for the skirt. Underlining the skirt would make it quite heavy and I wanted to keep a flowy effect. I went for separate layers and sewed a simple straight tube for the lining to prevent extra bulk at the waistline. You can see the difference in skirt width in the opening picture of this post.
Both skirts have French seams. I gathered the lace skirt, basted it to the lining skirt and then attached the skirts to the bodice, adding clear elastic at the waist seam. The lining skirt did not need hemming. The sleeve and skirt hems were stitched by hand.
Done! The most comfortable dress I’ve ever owned!
The possibilities of lace dresses are endless! Style it with silver shoes and jewelry for evening wear, add a wide satin ribbon in a matching or contrasting colour as seen in Vogue 8766. Go sleeveless, make a maxi dress, play with contrast. Just be careful with white lace and bold linings to avoid the dreaded tablecloth look! How about a lace dress in taupe with a soft pink lining to attend a summer wedding? Forest green for Christmas, pastel blue or hot pink for a spring dress, a timeless LBD?
Or… make a stunning lace dress for Valentine’s Day!