How to Make Lace With an Embroidery Machine

Written by barbara thompson
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Making freestanding lace on an embroidery machine is a technique that involves using specially digitised embroidery designs and water-soluble stabiliser to create lace. The embroiderer stitches the design directly onto the stabiliser instead of fabric. The stitches in a freestanding lace design overlap and support each other even after you remove the stabiliser. When the stabiliser dissolves, only the lace remains. Freestanding lace makes beautiful suncatchers, Christmas ornaments, potpourri bags, and even bowls.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Heavyweight water-soluble stabiliser
  • Freestanding lace embroidery design
  • 75/11 Sharp embroidery needle
  • Embroidery machine

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  1. 1

    Cut a piece of water-soluble stabiliser slightly larger than your embroidery hoop. Use a sturdy stabiliser that is designed for freestanding lace embroidery.

  2. 2

    Hoop the stabiliser tightly. The stabiliser should sound like a drum when you thump it. If the stabiliser is not tight, it will shift during embroidery and the stitches will not line up properly. Gaps may cause the lace to unravel when the stabiliser is removed.

  3. 3

    Load the embroidery machine with bobbin thread that matches the top thread. Variegated thread and metallic thread make beautiful lace but you can use regular polyester or rayon embroidery thread as well.

  4. 4

    Attach the hoop to the embroidery machine and stitch out the design.

  5. 5

    Remove the hoop from the machine, remove the stabiliser from the hoop, and trim the stabiliser to within 1/4 inch of the stitches.

  6. 6

    Soak the lace in warm water according to the stabiliser-manufacturer's directions. When the stabiliser is dissolved, blot the lace with a towel and lay it flat to dry. The dissolved stabiliser will act like starch so if the lace needs to be shaped, you should shape it before it dries.

Tips and warnings

  • Use the smallest hoop possible to keep the stabiliser from stretching and shifting during embroidery.
  • Adjust the thread tension so that the top thread and bobbin thread meet in the middle.
  • Hoop a piece of organza or tulle along with the water-soluble stabiliser to give the lace a different look and a make it a little bit sturdier. After the stabiliser is dissolved, trim the fabric as close as possible to the stitches without actually cutting any stitches.
  • Save the scraps of water-soluble stabiliser. Use the scraps as topping for embroidering on napped fabrics or dissolve some stabiliser scraps in water to make spray starch.
  • Only attempt to make lace using designs that are digitised for freestanding embroidery.
  • Make sure to use a small sharp needle to keep the stabiliser from stretching and tearing during embroidery.

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