Tailoring lace can be tricky to get right. Lace garments are so pretty that it is worth the effort to get the perfect fit. With a few simple sewing tools you can adjust lace leaving almost no trace.
Scissors (for thread and fabric)
Hand Sewing Needles
Marking Pencil or Chalk
I’m working with a pair of lace shorts that I purchased. The hips fit great but the waist was way too big. I tried on the shorts to determine how much to take out of the waist. The first point I determined is where to stop taking fabric away also known as the diminishing point. That is where the pin is set in the photo above.
At this point, any seam finishes for the waistband will need to be undone so we can work with the lace layer and the lining layer separately.
Use a seam ripper to carefully remove the old stitching. Only remove slightly more than you need to make the adjustment.
Unless your fit problems are exclusive to one side of the garment, you will want to take approximately the same amount of fabric out of each side – whether it is front/back or left/right.
Try on the garment again and determine exactly how much needs to be removed. Working with the lining alone, pinch out the amount you wish to remove from the garment. This line can be shaped or contoured to fit you exactly if you wish.
Draw a line on the garment with chalk or a pencil to mark the line you will be sewing.
Begin sewing the layers together at your diminishing point and sew along the line you drew on the garment. I used backstitch because it is quick to sew and creates a very sturdy seam. I placed a couple pins along the line to hold the 2 layers of lining fabric together.
Sew the entire line. Do this to both sides of the garment.
To determine how much lace to remove, lay one side of the lace flat against the lining and place a pin at the waistline where the new lining seam sits.
Do the same to the other side. Lay the lace flat and pin the lace at the waistline where the new lining seam sits.
Pin the lace right sides together. For my shorts I had to turn them inside out and pull the lining away so the lace would lay smooth. Create a line with pins between the diminishing point and the waistband pins. This will be your sewing line. If the pins at the waistband don’t line up, end the stitching centered between the pins.
Sew the lace along the line between the diminishing point and the waistband pins with the same stitch you used on the lining (I suggested using backstitch).
IMPORTANT: Sew both sides of the garment and TRY IT ON TO TEST THE FIT before working through the next steps. Once the fabric has been cut away you can’t make the garment larger!
Trim away the lace leaving a 1/4″ (6mm) seam allowance on the lace. Hand sew a blanket stitch over the cut edge to finish the lace and prevent unraveling.
Work the lining in the same way you worked the lace. Trim the lining to match the existing lining seam allowance in the garment. Apply a seam finish by sewing blanket stitch over the cut edge of the lining.
Once the lace and lining are sewn and finished, you need to re-apply any other finishing you undid at the start of the project. My shorts had a binding at the waistband that needs to be reattached. Excess needs to be removed from this also.
Cut the binding.
Lay one side of the binding under the other. The binding that will be on top should be folded back (to the underside) so there is not an exposed cut edge. Sew the binding down as it was originally. I used backstitch again to sew it down. For my shorts the line of stitching goes through all layers on the seam closest to the lace. The opposite edge of the binding is folded under and is only sewn through the lining layer.
Here is the inside of my shorts after the binding is sewn in place.
If you hand sew the lace you can ensure that the stitches go through the bulky parts of the lace for a more secure seam. If you have lace similar to what my shorts are made of, the hand stitching allows you to properly match the “stripes” of the lace pattern to keep the symmetry.
The alterations can be sewn to create curved seams to get a perfect fit for your body if you choose. Just remember to try on and test your garment fit before cutting away any fabric!
-Carly | Antibromide