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These tips were given by Daleen from Stitch Delight.
What is Freestanding Lace?
Freestanding lace is an embroidery design that is stitched onto a special stabilizer that dissolves in warm or cold water, leaving you with the freestanding lace. Only designs digitized specifically for freestanding lace can be sewn in this way, other designs will fall apart when the stabilizer is dissolved.
When you look closely at any fabric you will see the weave of the fabric which looks like a grid. Freestanding lace designs need to be digitized to support this grid system to ensure that they don’t fall apart when the water soluble stabilizer is dissolved. They generally have a higher stitch count for this purpose.
Always read the instructions carefully to ensure that you are sewing out a freestanding lace design and are using the correct stabilizer, thread and needle recommended by the designer. There are many ways to digitize freestanding lace and it’s always best to follow the directions specific to the designs you are sewing. Each designer may be testing using different threads and stabilizers and the designs may not work on all dissolvable stabilizers.
Which Water-soluble Stabilizer Should You Use?
There are many freestanding lace stabilizers available these days. You can get the so-called "laundry bags", badge master, vilene and many more. Daleen has found the best results are obtained when stitching on the water soluble vilene. It is a thin, non-woven, water soluble stabilizer which does not stretch or tear while stitching. She always recommends two layers be used at a time. A small design can get away with only one layer, but when you do full 4x4” or larger size designs, you will need to use two layers of Vilene for best results.
Finding Freestanding Lace Designs
You should always ensure the lace design you are purchasing is clearly marked FSL, or freestanding lace to ensure it will stitch correctly, and hold together when you wash the stabilzier away. At Secrets of Embroidery we have a huge range of freestanding lace designs available and you can find them all in our FSL category.
Stitching your Freestanding Lace Design
Hoop the dissolvable stabilizer as recommended by the designer, and then stitch out the design in thread colors of your choice. Daleen recomends you use two layers of Vilene for best results.
Making Multi Colored Lace
If the design is a bowl or doily which has many different colors, you will want both sides of your finished lace to look fabulous. So you will need to use matching top and bobbin thread for each color. Simply wind a bobbin full of the same thread you use for the top and remember to change the bobbin color when you change the top color.
Creating a Heavier Lace Look
Daleen recommends that you use the same thread type in the bobbin area to give your design a heavier, fuller lace look. For example, if you use 40wt Marathon thread in the top, use the 40wt
in the bobbin area as well.
Creating a Daintier Lace Look
For a more dainty lace look, use embroidery thread for your top thread and bobbin thread in the bobbin area. If you are wanting an even finer lace look, use bobbin thread in the top area as well. (PLEASE ask the designer first if the design would be ok to use bobbin thread with both top and bottom as sometimes your design might unravel in water if it has not been digitized for this purpose).
Washing Out The Stabilizer
When you have finished stitching the design, cut away the excess Vilene and rinse the design under a running tap with warm water. Feel the design as you go, as you don’t want it to feel slimy – so rinse until all the Vilene has been dissolved.
Making Firmer Lace
If you want a firmer design (for a design that needs shape, like Christmas Bells) don’t rinse all the Vilene out. Leave some in as it acts like a starch when dry and assists in keeping the shape.
Making Softer Lace
If you want lace to be very soft for doilies etc. you will need to rinse the design about three times each time in clean water. If it is still not soft enough, soak in warm water for about one hour with some fabric softener
Finishing Off Your Freestanding Lace Projects
Each lace piece is finished off with a satin stitch outline. Some designs like Christmas Ornaments are ready to be used immediately. Just attach ribbon for hanging.
Multiple Piece Lace Designs
Many freestanding lace projects require a number of lace pieces that are joined together to complete the finished project. Follow the directions included with your freestanding lace designs and sew out all the pieces of lace required. Use the zig zag stitch on your machine to join the pieces of lace together.
Look After Your Lace
Never wash your freestanding lace items in a washing machine or tumble dryer. Hand wash only and do not rub, simply soak and press till clean. If it is an item that needs to be hard, add starch to the final rinse water and shape as it dries, by either placing over a mold or by using a hairdryer to dry the design and shaping with your hands as it dries.
Tips For Getting The Perfect Freestanding Lace.
If your freestanding lace designs fall apart after rinsing the stabilizer, check the following.
Ensure you hooped the Vilene drum tight and there there is no way the Vilene could have slipped when you stitched out your lace.
Make sure you used the correct thread in both the top and bobbin area.
- Make sure you used the needle the digitizer recommended. Daleen generally recommends using a 75 needle.
Problems With Larger Designs
Larger freestanding designs that have large filled areas are more likely to unravel at the edges or where the satin edge meets the filled lace area. This is because there are a lot of stitches and the stabilizer can sometimes move and stretch in the hoop.
Many designers will digitize their lace to avoid this problem. However if you find your designs are unraveling, you can ask the designer to add some additional stitches that stitch first to stabilize the design.
Digitizing Tips For Stabilizing Freestanding Lace
When Daleen makes a round doily, she would first sew a circular, straight stitch outline around the shape. This stitching stabilizes the design, so when it is filled with stitches, the stabilizer does not stretch as much. The filled stitches should also be pulled right under (almost outside) the satin edge to ensure the satin edge is catching the filled stitches. The satin edge should always have good underlay as well. Daleen uses a double zigzag, as well as a center run underlay under all her satin edges to ensure they are well stabilized. All parts of the digitized freestanding lace design should touch each other like a chain, one piece connected to the other. This ensures they hold together when the stabilizer is dissolved.