Dressmaking Techniques for Hemming Lace

By Heather Berkowe
Lace hem treatments must be as delicate as the lace itself.

Hemming lace can be a challenging endeavor. The method of hemming the lace is dependent on the type of lace and the garment it's on. The prettiest and easiest hem finish for lace is a scallop. Only the most expensive and, often, thinnest widths of lace have a scallop, so a dressmaker needs to be a bit creative with hemming techniques.

Bendback Hem

For inexpensive allover laces, a simple bendback hem does well. A casual allover lace skirt, a stretch tank top or a pair of lace leggings are styles that could use a bendback hem. For a bendback hem, fold 1/2 inch of the lace toward the inside of the garment. Use a machine zig-zag stitch 1/4-inch from the fold-edge to sew down the fold. Stretch the fabric as you sew, if it is a stretch lace.

Purl Hem

A purl hem requires an industry purl machine, but is well worth the effort. A purl machine cuts the fabric edge cleanly, then creates a wrapped 1/8-inch stitch around the hem edge. A purl is very delicate and can be shaped into a scallop to fit any lace hem. A purl is ideal for dresses and skirts, but could be used on any style except stretch lace.

Apply a Scallop Edge Trim

A scalloped edge trim lace can be applied to the hem of an allover or wide lace galoon garment. Adding a lace trim elevates the look of the garment and can add an expensive scalloped lace look to any garment. Find a scalloped lace that resembles your main lace; either has a similar motif, placement of motifs, or netting. To apply the edge lace, line the lace edges up, overlapping by 3/8-inch, with the edge lace face up on top of the main lace. Use a zig-zag machine stitch to sew the laces together, 1/8-inch from the edge lace edge. If the edge lace is scalloped, follow the scallop when sewing. This hem finish is best for the dressiest of styles.

Make a Baby Hem

A baby hem works well for a rigid allover lace that is delicate and fine, or for an elegant style. A baby hem can be made as small as 1/4-inch, and can be done by hand as well as with a machine. To make a baby hem, fold the hem fabric in toward the wrong side of the fabric 1/4-inch. Fold the hem again up another 1/4-inch, hiding the raw edge of the lace. Stitch the fold down 1/16-inch from the edge and press with an iron.

About the Author

Heather Berkowe is a fashion designer with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in fashion design. She has more than five years of experience in the fashion industry, including design work for lingerie brands and owning the inner-wear company Soussuits. Berkowe has been writing since 1997, with work appearing in the "Journal News" and Metropolitan Museum of Art exhibitions.