I LOVE talking about blocks, studying blocks, and playing with them in Photoshop... I am always on a quest for great blocks and trying to figure out what makes them so great ... So I started this companion blog that will be devoted to this quest. But also check out my regular blog at http://olderrose.blogspot.com

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Being Lavish With Lace - Part 1

    Diane sent me this picture of a block and asked.. 

." I want to do CQJP2014 with pictures of family members as children on  very embellished lace encrusted series of blocks, and it doesn't come easily to me to add chunks of lace in a decent way!  I have made up my first block and added some lace, but I need some guidance on what to do next.  I'm hoping that you would address this on Block Talk."

(In response to a comment... After the block is constructed my FIRST step is adding laces.  For me steps to block construction is basically this order...Sewing patches, adding laces, then trims, seam embellishment and motifs, and finally beads.)

Since lace is a special love of mine I will happily do this.... First a few things to always remember.

1.  Don't be a "LACE SNOB"  Embrace all kinds of laces...old, new. nylon, cotton, hand-made, machine made, ecru, white, colored, large and small.etc...  Love it all..

2. Lace is really your friend....   Lace not only adds interest to a block..  It also adds texture, contrast, depth. and color  among other things...  It can make a problem spot disappear, move the eye around the block and also draw attention to a focal point.

3. Don't be afraid to cut it up...  You will find uses for all the leftover bits...

4.  The main to remember to have a lace encrusted block is very simple....LAYER, LAYER, LAYER...  not just laces but laces, ribbons, and trims....then bead it.

This is the cover for my stitch journal and if you really looked closely I'm sure you will find about 15 different laces...  Rather than a muslin for a foundation for this cover I used a special kind of lace.... filigree.  This piece was a place mat.  It's easy to overlook this kind of lace..

Here is a valance I bought at a thrift store just this week... $1.99.  It is machine made, nothing memorable. I will probably  use the top and bottom and maybe even the duck/geese? but I really bought it just for the filigree.

This was a very long valance and as you can see most of it was this...  This type of lace is easily found and cheap.  It is a work horse. It covers problem areas, works as a base for motifs, and supports areas of layered lace.

I find it invaluable... and using this cheap lace is the first step in overcoming being a lace snob...

The next step is being extravagant in layering all types of lace.

 This is a lovely edging of hand crocheted lace and only needs a good pressing.

This is a good quality  piece of machine made lace..

And this is a poorly made piece of machine lace and you can tell by looking at the material
it is attached to.  None of these three pieces would make a big impact on a block by themselves.... BUT

layer them  and WOW!!  Even Martha Pullen would be proud...   I layer laces  whenever I can and as many laces as I can...  It is a win-win situation because they always enhance each other.

Here is another of example showing the effects of combining not only various kinds of lace, but various shades and hues as well. a fine soft knitted lace, a firm geometric crocheted lace and a beautifully dyed lace edging motif.

I use a lot of trims and ribbons on seams for a couple reasons... the main one is I can add lace to BOTH sides of the ribbon and they don't even have to be matching laces.  If I run a cord or narrow braid down the ribbon I can do a different seam treatment on either side...plus beading.  This may be only a 5" seam but I have added 7+ (counting seam treatments) elements to it and  maybe more.

 So since the cottage blocks are easily at hand I took a few photos for examples on the ways I use lace.  I have a passion for velvet ribbon and love to combine it with lace and beads.

This bunny motif is resting on a background of two entirely different, very cheap, machine made lace.  It provides him with a much better background than just plain fabric.

I have included this photo because I want you to notice the pink scalloped edge just above the ribbon.  It would be great combined with lace.  It is an edging from an infant dress.  I find that infant and toddlers dresses in thrift stores a great source of delicate lace and edgings, not to mention fine prints.
Upper left here is a layered combination of machine lace and a handmade filigree...a nice contrast.  On the right handmade lace is combined with a blue cotton eyelet.

On occasion I have a truly lovely piece if very old lace and I showcase it rather than layer it...and that is the case here.  But I did add the tiny pink picot lace at the bottom.
The trim is covering a cut edge on the lace.. Ribbon, trims and even another lace with an edge will keep cut lace from unraveling..

Notice the scalloped lace under the velvet ribbon here... It provides a foundation for the intricate seam treatment.  Above by the bees is a tiny remnant of hand tatted lace.  I never discard any piece of tatting and find odd spots to use it.
Again this is a precious piece of lace and I used it to cover this patch and used a light seam treatment..
This was a cheap piece of pink cotton lace but a great spot to use that teeny tiny blue lace flowered edging. 

There a few things to note here... The lace on top had been cut up repeatedly and there were no salvageable edges so the velvet ribbon conceals all the ragged edges.  Then I layered a narrow piece of lace seam binding over the ribbon. 

So with the help of photoshop I have added a few photoed pieces to Diane's block...  I moved the sequin motif to the lace doily... Even a section of filigree lace would be nice under that doily.  All the seams need more ribbon and layered laces... AND the round patch at the bottom screams for another round doily and what a perfect base for a ribbon floral motif.

 Before and after

 Hoping this post helps to justify all the accumulation of lace in your stash..


  1. Thanks so much for your step by step tutorial on lace layering, (something that had not occurred to me at all) and great ways to use lace using your own blocks as examples. I certainly feel more confident starting out on this new project. I do have a great amount of all kinds of lacy pieces, doilies, etc. etc., and I'll not hold back!


  2. how helpful this article is, what I am not sure of is when the lace is added. I put none on my CQJP last year but would like to use it this time, I think I need to sew it into to the seams as I construct the blocks as surely otherwise I would have problems with the ends?I am making my next one for my daughter who has seen your blocks and is so in love with all your work, if she is expecting anything like haht she will be very disappointed.

  3. Brilliant and helpful piece - thanks :) I'm a newbie and the most I've used is a little piece of broderie anglaise and a little crocheted cotton. Having found your blog - I'm hoping I can find some info on beads too!!

  4. Thanks for the lace tips. And there is that pretty seam I liked so much with the pink velvet ribbon that you explained to me. Love it.

  5. Excellent! I learned so much! Thank you, I will no longer be a lace snob!

  6. Wonderful post. Love the photos. Question: On a cut piece of lace, either machine or handmade, but in general handmade, do you use something to help keep it from raveling? For instance in the photo where you covered the cut piece, with no salvageable edges, with velvet ribbon; will the ribbon itself keep the lace from raveling out. Thanks for the article.

  7. As a lace-aholic, I am always torn between collecting/saving my lace and using it. But this wonderful post really got my creative juices flowing! I can still fondle them when they are lusciously layered on a CQ confection. I have been planning a wall hanging to showcase my dyed venice laces, but what better compliment them than to use than loads of other laces. Thanks for this great post. Even this old-timer learned some more great tips from you! ((Hugs))

  8. In response to "Sewok" The trim is covering a cut edge on the lace.. Ribbon, trims and even another lace with an edge will keep cut lace from unraveling..

    1. Thanks for the reply. Nice to know that I don't have to worry 'bout that little problem.

  9. As a "dye" hard lace lover I love this post - your work always amazes me and I learn something new from you all the time. Thank you for always sharing your love of CQ and knowledge. My CQJP 2104 are almost done and I can't wait to "lace" them up!

  10. Gerry, Thank you for your insight on using lace. I love love love lace and wish I could use it more effectively. I will keep all your tips in mind. Connie

  11. Oh, I enjoyed this post, Gerry. Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge and experience-- I always learn something new! And drooling over lace is always fun.

  12. Thank you, Gerry, for taking the time to show all the examples and give all the wonderful ideas. You've shown so many interesting methods to add color, texture, interest and depth using lace.

  13. Thank you, Gerry , for sharing such an outstanding article on how you use laces in your work. I never would have thought to use the multiple layers of unlike types of lace you described. Can't wait to try it! I wonder if you ever use fray- check or a similar product to prevent unraveling where a sewn seam is not possible? Thanks for your generosity in sharing your knowledge! Hope your Mom is settling in well. Amy in LA

  14. Thank you Gerry! I had so many questions on working with lace and I do believe you have them covered. Your work always expresses the beautiful exquisite femininity in all of us, and from your examples I see (with new eyes) the possibilities that I would not have had before.

  15. Thank you so much for sharing this tutorial - it is fantastic! I haven't used a lot of lace before, never really having know how to use it effectively, or the confidence to experiment with it. However, having recently acquired a lot of vintage lace, and having two lace-heavy projects in mind for this year but not quite knowing how I was going to do them, I was so thrilled (and grateful!) that you made this post. Thank you :)

  16. Diane, thank you for asking Gerry about this! Gerry, thank you SO much for sharing this post! Your blocks always make me wish I had the confidence (and the lace) to make such a beautifully encrusted block. And then, I admit to myself there are not a lot of laces I really like. At least I was aware of the problem - lol! I look forward to my next trip to a thrift shop to see what I can do to overcome being a lace snob. Thanks SO much for your guidance and tips!

  17. Gerry, thanks again for your help. I'm pretty pleased with the way it has turned out, and I feel I'm getting the hang of it. Here's a tiny to take you to the finished block. http://tinyurl.com/m5f3grk


  18. Gerry, great info as always, thanks!

  19. A great post and tutorial. I've never been a lace person, but I think you have converted me!

  20. Great post and pictures. I've never been a lace person, but this just may have converted me. Thank you so much.

  21. Wow, great help! I am looking forwar to doing osmething with my stashes!