What is Lace Fabric?
Lace is an open work fabric consisting of a network of yarns formed into intricate designs. It is an open-structured, decorative fabric available in qualities from very fine, soft and sheer to heavy, stiff and coarse. We can define lace in the following way, a string for passing through holes; an ornamental fabric made by looping, knotting, plaiting or twisting threads into definite patterns.
Lace is manufactured by hand or machine, and intricate pattern scan be produced by either technique. Handmade lace, which can be either bobbin lace or needlepoint lace, is one of the most expensive and complex textile constructions and requires skill and time. Machine-made lace is produced on a variety of machines using twisting, knitting or embroidery techniques. Both narrow and wide lace fabrics are available. The edges of the fabric may be straight or curved. Most fibers can be used for lace making, including Lycra blends for stretch-lace, which is ideal for tight-fitted garments and lingerie. Traditionally lace was used as a fabric for special occasions or as a trimming or appliqué, but has become more affordable and popular so is now widely used.
Raschel lace is a low-cost version in wider fabric widths, which is lightweight, strong and available in a variety of patterns and colors. It uses manmade, simple multifilament yarns such as polyester-Lycra blends, so it stretches well with good recovery. Also available is a simulated lace achieved by embroidering a base fabric with a thread resistant to heat or chemicals, then using a burnout method to remove the base fabric.
Lace is an important trimming. It is used for table cloths, curtains, handkerchiefs, dresses, and underwear. Lace consists of two elements: The pattern, flower, or group, which forms the closer-worked and more solid portion, and the ground or filling, which serves to hold the pattern together.
Types of Lace Fabric:
Different types of lace fabric are described below:
1. Chantilly Lace: Chantilly Lace is a fine bobbin lace with a scalloped edge that can be used for neckline and hemline finishing. Chantilly-style trims are also used on lingerie, nightwear and other garments. Chantilly lace has flowers and branches in the design and the pattern is outlined with a thick, silky thread.
2. Alençon Lace: Alençon Lace was originally a needlepoint lace with classical flowers and swags on a net ground. Instead of a selvedge, each side is finished with a scalloped edge. Alençon lace has a delicate flower and swag design on a netting base with motifs outlined in fine cord. Alençon motifs are more delicate than Chantilly.
3. Allover lace: Allover lace has a repeating pattern across a wide width and can be cut and sewn like other fabrics. It is an inexpensive lace fabric and can be used for whole garments but which can be used for only part.
4. Guipure Lace: Guipure, also called Venise, is a firm, stiff cotton lace with an embroidered design. Guipure Lace starts as an embroidered material. The lace is made on a foundation, which is then dissolved. It is available as fabric or trimming.
5. Cluny lace: Cluny lace is a coarse cotton lace used for trimmings or combined with less formal fabrics.
6. Val Lace: Val Lace, also called Valenciennes, is a narrow flat lace with a floral design on a diamond- or circular-net base.
7. Schiffli: Schiffli is a delicate, transparent chain-stitch embroidery lace on fine netting. It comes in a narrow width or as a trim.
8. Bordered Lace: Bordered Lace is finished on both lengthwise edges, usually with scallops, which can be used as a decorative edge finish. Bordered lace can be used for a whole garment or for only part.
9. Crochet Lace: Crochet Lace can be heavy and chunky with a rustic look.
10. Insertion Lace: Insertion Lace is plain along both lengthwise edges; it is ideal as a decorative strip between two fabric edges.
11. Edging Lace: Edging Lace has one straight edge and one decorative edge, often a scalloped or picot border– picots are small decorative edge loops.
12. Galloon Lace: Galloon Lace has scalloped patterns along both lengthwise edges and is for making ruffles, insertions and banding or for appliqué.
13. Motif and Medallion Lace: Motif and Medallion Lace are individual lace designs that can be used for parts such as collars and cuffs or as an appliqué.
Quality and Characteristics of Lace Fabric:
- Lace is mostly transparent and delicate.
- Some have scalloping instead of a selvedge, which can be used as a finished edge.
- Lace fabric is usually narrow.
- Lace is fragile and can snag easily.
- Minimize seaming when using intricate lace to avoid interrupting the lace pattern.
- Lace fabric does not have a grain but the pattern often shows a direction, which must be considered when cutting out.
- Some lace fabrics must be lined or stabilized with a backing such as organza or netting.
- Lace fabric stretches more in the width than in the length.
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Editor of Fashion2Apparel. She is a fashion designer and ex-lecturer in Fashion Designing. She wants to spread fashion knowledge throughout the world.