Sewing a Chantilly lace overlay A delicate subject

Hello readers. After a two month break from blogging I did miss it. It’s the first long break I’ve taken since 2010 when I started blogging. It’s nice to be back.

Sewing Chantilly Lace

I’ve been taking my time with the latest project and haven’t been working on any other projects this past summer. Except for working with my seven year old on basic machine skills.

But now the clock is ticking and I’m making the finishing touches to Rosario’s wedding dress. Which needs to be ready by tomorrow! So I have a few posts planned about the process. I was only drafting and creating the top part of the dress as Rosario already had a dress with a skirt she liked. I needed to make a fitted boned bustier with a very low back and an overlay with both a low V back and front which is tricky. I also had to take in the skirt, hem it and figure out an interesting bustle option for a mermaid type skirt. It ended up being more involved than I expected, as these things often do. I learned a lot from this project and am excited to share some of my discoveries.

Today’s post is about sewing with Chantilly lace. While I’ve made several projects using the thicker Alencon lace, I had never sewn with Chantilly lace. Chantilly lace is much thinner and more delicate than Alencon lace and requires a very delicate touch. Any seams sewn by machine should be sewn with a straight stitch foot and straight stitch plate.



It’s difficult to sew Chantilly lace with hand sewn applique seams but it can be done if you pick a spot with lots of embroidery and only a small amount of netting. Not having the corded edge of Alencon lace and thicker netting, it can fray. This French lace felt almost like a cobweb. Above is the invisible side seam from the first lace top I sewed using a fell stitch. There were lots of spots with only netting holding it together and I came to the conclusion that having no underlining, the bride wanted it to be very transparent, this lace was too delicate for this type of seam and might not hold up through and evening of dancing. In the end I did use this applique seaming in the center front of the bodice, because I had no choice, and on the edges of the sleeves. For a tutorial on applique seams visit my post about sewing a baby baptismal gown.AppliqueedgeonsleeveveStabilizing a stetchy lace neckline with tea dyed bias cut organza strips


Bodice stabilized with tea dyed organza strips

Above is the first version of the top I sewed. It’s based on a princess lined bodice pattern. I sewed up the muslin bodice and layed it onto the lace and cut the lace without any princess seams as suggested in Suasan Khalje’s Bridal Couture book. Had Rosario been busty this method probably wouldn’t have worked. This worked great since the lace is easily manipulated having no real grainline. But there was a lot of netting at the neckline so I had to figure out how to stabilize it. What I did to keep it from stretching out was to dye some thin silk organza strips cut on the bias with tea to match Rosarios’ skin tone. I stretched out the bias strips and made them very strong by pressing them with steam and pulling them tautly. That way there would be no stretching at the neckline. I found this idea for using skin colored organza on this Threads post . I hand sewed them into the neckline and then folded it over. I made sure to sew the strips to the neck edge before cutting it out to avoid any stretching.  You can see the thread tracing of my seamlines here. For more info on thread tracing a lace pattern you can check out my post about Annie’s dress here.biasedgedneck You can see the strips where the lace meets the strapless bodice underneath. But once I planned to cut off the edges of decorative borders of the lace and hand sew them to the edge, I realized that you could see the lace designs under the the sewn on lace border and it looked cluttered and messy to my eye. So while I think this technique would work well with lots of other types of lace it wasn’t going to work in my project. It was back to the drawing board!

Pattern Placement for Chantilly lace bodice with V neckline

I woke up in the evening with an idea to fix this problem but unfortunately we hadn’t bought any extra lace for the project. I would advise always buying an extra yard of lace when working on a project in case you make a mistake. So I went down to Beverly Hills and picked up another yard of this French lace at International House of Silks. a pricey shop but it has the best lace in all of Los Angeles in my humble opinion. I was going downtown anyway to buy linen for an upcoming curtain project and of course I had to stop at my favorite vintage shop in Westwood where I found the perfect 70’s denim overalls! patternplacementWhat I did was use my pattern which didn’t have seam allowances anyway and but them up against each other avoiding a shoulder seam altogether. Rosario has a forward shoulder so this also solved the problem of the shoulder seam slipping backward on her. I cut two identical pieces for each side making sure the pattern was placed on the same spot at the bottom of the center front V. I would have to have a seam going down the center front for this pattern layout so I sewed an applique seam in that spot. I really like how the lace design looks when placed diagonally with the edge along the border. This also solves the problem of the neckline stretching out since the pattern’s neckline now is against the selvedge of the lace which stretches less then the rest of the lace. frontnosleevesbackbeforezipperSince there was a lot of clear net at the side seams and along the sleeve arm seam. I sewed really tiny French seams which I trimmed down to 1/8 inch. It’s not very noticeable and looks acceptable although I prefer the applique seam.

frenchseamHere are the French seams above. The bodice looks puckered at the top edge because I used elastic instead of stay tape, an unorthodox idea I came up that helps keep the strapless bodice cupped tightly over the bust. The puckering lies flat when it’s on.

Well anyway, I’m glad to be posting again and I now realize I need to take things slower in the future with mysewing projects so I don’t burn out like I did.

Happy sewing!



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  1. learningnewtricks says

    Welcome back! I missed your posts and sad to see you gone. You should probably schedule breaks to avoid getting burned out again. I agree that you should take more time with your sewing projects instead of rushing through to finish them and getting all stressed, Take your time and enjoy the process.

    • says

      I’m hoping to do that once this dress is done. It feels like it will never end, I have to redo the hem, and the wedding is in 3 days!

  2. Nancy Liedel says

    I have never commented before, but I wanted to say that if you are going to write fewer posts, this is the perfect type of post. Helpful, not braggy and just really good. Thank you.

  3. Ruth L says

    Great job Justine! So glad that your break from blogging has been refreshing! Beautiful dress and your work is stellar!

  4. Carol Gardiner says

    Welcome back Justine. I am looking forward to seeing the rest of the dress and how you finished it. It is so pretty! What a lucky bride to have you for a friend. Happy Sewing.

  5. says

    Glad to see you again! Whenever you feel like posting is great, no expectations or demands here. Your break did force me to check out your own reading blog links, so discovered some new folks to read. I agree with Nancy, this is a perfect post. I doubt I’ll ever be confident enough to tackle a wedding gown, but happy to daydream while you work on your projects :-).

  6. says

    I’m so glad I kept you in my reader, because this post is lovely. You do wonderful work, and I love your humble and intelligent attitude toward learning new sewing skills. I look forward to seeing the finished product!!!