DIY: Lace Front T-shirt Tutorial

Recently, I came across an awesome DIY clothing blogger, Sweet Verbena.  If you haven't checked out her site yet, you should- it's great!  She had this tutorial for a lace tape embellished T-shirt that I fell in love with at first glance, and the project itself seemed easy enough.  The problem came in when I went searching for lace tape.  I couldn't find any that looked like what she used, and everything I did find was designed to be used as a lace trim, which meant one side was either completely straight and the other was scalloped or one side had tiny scallops and the other had wider ones.  Without being able to find a symmetrical lace, I almost gave up, but I like the T so much, I decided to go the more complicated route and try to produce a similar outcome using asymmetrical lace, sewn back to back with a second piece. 

I thought I'd try my hand at a tutorial in case you also like the shirt design, but will be stuck using trim lace vs. a lace tape. (Locally, I searched at Michael's, Hancock Fabrics and Joann's to no avail).  Let me know if you have any questions.  Please note I am NOT a champion seamstress by ANY means, ANYONE can do this (promise).  Typically, it takes me 20 minutes to psych myself up enough to take the cover off of my sewing machine, so just know sewing is NOT my strong suit, but this top was still possible :-)

1. Pick up a nice t-shirt (I bought mine at Target for $8, as the original poster did, note I bought my shirt in the juniors area, and they do run small.  In most stores I wear small or medium tops, and I needed to buy a large, so just keep that in mind) and select a lace to use.  (I used a wider lace, about 2.5 inches wide)

2. Lay your lace down on your shirt on a flat surface and trim to the correct length, leaving about an inch at the neck and shirt bottom to hem under.  Then, if the lace is edged with a scallop or design on the smoother side, cut it off to make a straight line.
3. Fold the straight edge over and use an iron to press so the fold stays.  (This prevents where the lace meets back to back from being frayed after you sew it to the shirt)  With my lace, I burnt through a test piece at about 2/3 heat, so experiment a little with your iron temps and a test piece of lace before you do this with the "real" pieces.
4. Now, for the part that took me FOREVER and a day to figure out, but I'm going to give you my super short cut genius solution and save you 45 tense minutes ;-).  You need to pin the lace to the shirt, and you have to get it straight.  This is the hardest part of this whole project.  Use a pin every inch to inch and a half.  You do not want the lace going crooked, it will ruin the entire look of the shirt and make it twist weird when you wear it!  BAD!  Very bad.

The difficulty I was having was the shirt front and back were clinging together.  Everytime I would slip my hand inside the shirt to guide the pin, I'd move the lace and it wouldn't be straight anymore. I had to put my hand in to separate the shirt though, or I'd pin straight through both layers and end up sewing the shirt shut!

Solution: Slip a cookie sheet into the shirt!  Then, you can leave everything flat on your table.  Stick the pins through the lace and the top layer of shirt and use the metal of the cookie sheet to push the pin against before coming out the other side.  A little tricky for me to describe, but just trust me- do it, and it will make sense and save you angry tears and ugly cries!
(Pin one strip of lace, sew, and then repeat with the second pieces.  Don't pin both at once, as you may need to realign the second piece after sewing the first)

5. Next, using a zig zag stitch (it allows knit to stretch and won't gather your lace- as explained by Sweet Verbena's original post) sew along the inner side of the lace straight down the shirt.  (If you are totally BRAND new to sewing- when you start sewing, sew an inch, then sew in reverse an inch, then forward again- this secures your sewing and keeps it from getting pulled out.  You need to do that EVERY time you start or stop sewing a line of stitching.  It's the equivalent of knotting in hand sewing.)

Pin the second piece of lace (be sure you really look at the lace alignment when placing!), and repeat the sewing with zig zag stitch.

6. Pin the edges of lace around the neck and bottom of shirt and sew to clean up the look/hem.
7. Now, the tricky part.  Because you used TWO pieces of lace to make a symmetrical look on a stretchy fabric, even if the lace is right up next to each other when the shirt is flat, when you put it on an actual person the shirt will stretch and you will see a line of the shirt straight down the center of the pieces of lace. 

Solution: Set your zig zag stitch a little wider (I just went up one number in width on my machine) and slowly sew straight down the center of the pieces of lace so the needle hits one side of lace, then the other, leap frogging across the line back and forth where the lace comes together.  This will keep the lace from gapping :-) (So so far, you will see three total zig zag seams on the inside of the shirt.  One for each piece of lace, and once down the center to keep them together.
8.  Last step: go out closer to the edge of your lace, and make one more straight seam from the top of the lace to the bottom, so the edges don't come up when you wash/wear the shirt.

9.  Trim any loose string, iron is needed, and wear your pretty new shirt!
Try not to be TOO jealous of my 1986 closet doors k? Just keeping it real ;-)


  1. Holy guacamole! I love it. I think the two strips of lace look amazing together. Seriously, I like it better than mine. Very clever of you. Thank you for sharing this with me. (:

  2. super cute!

    and i've been dying to know every time i see a photo of you color your hair? do you do it yourself or go to the salon? i just LOVE your hair color and am totally jealous of it =)

  3. Katy- you are far too kind! I'm really glad you like it though- thanks so much for getting me going! This is the first thing I've ever made that I really wanted to wear!

    Jamie- HA! You are going to laugh. I always get my haircut by my super stylist who I followed from beauty school, but I just don't have the moolah to have my hair colored professionally. Thankfully, my hair type seems to be fairly easy to color- I literally just use a box of Loreal Preference (the color is 9 and 1/2 NB) about once every 6 weeks. I put the dye on the roots only until the final 5 minutes (when I dyed my whole head every time my hair got FRIED. BAD. It's taken me 3 years to get it healthy again- so just don't make my mistake! :-)

  4. I love this! I want to make one too...I might need your supervision though. Haha!

  5. i came across your site from the original poster. i like your version too. i was thinking of doing something similar, just before i scrolled down and saw your comment on the post! also your kid is really cute!

  6. Wow! You look fabulous in it! I'm going to try that!


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