How to Choose Lace Trim for Sewing Lolita Clothes, Costumes, and Everything!

by Orpheus on February 9, 2013

What kind of lace to use is an oft-argued about subject in both the cosplay and the fashion world, especially with regards to EGL/Lolita fashion. Since, as those of you who follow me on instagram might already know, the second PDF pattern in the VentureCosplay storeis a lolita themed pattern, I felt it would be appropriate to write a post about how to choose lace for your next project (including VC0002). Furthermore, I created a new YouTube channel for the site, so I made a little video to go with this. Check it out if you can!

“Don’t use cheap lace!”

This is something you hear all the time, but I don’t agree 100%. What people really mean is don’t use lace that looks cheap. 😉 If you look hard enough, you can often find lace that is relatively inexpensive but still looks at least as good as the lace used by most Japanese lolita brands.

Four Basic Types of Lace Trim

In my experience, there are basically four types of lace trim. Occasionally you’ll find some lace thats sort of inbetween types, but for the most part every kind of lace trim is one of the following:

Crocheted Cotton Lace

This is basic lace made of cotton threads, usually crocheted, with a matte look to it. It looks quite nice and is usually not that expensive. It works really well for less formal lolita looks.

Embroidered Cotton / Eyelet Lace

This lace is embroidered cotton. It is very versatile, can be matte or have a slight sheen to it in the embroidery. It looks good and is also usually not expensive.

Fancy embroidered lace, including venetian lace

This is the “holy grail”, more expensive lace that everyone loves and approves of, but is a little harder to find in your average run of the mill fabric store. I’ve had more luck finding it online, though Joann Fabrics has it sometimes (that’s where I got the lace in the last row of the picture above). It is delicate, sometimes it has a sheen to it.

Cheap looking plastic lace

This is the type of lace that doesn’t look or feel that good, that most everyone hates, but its extremely cheap (I’ve seen some for as little as 4 yards for a dollar). It is really easy to find at virtually all craft and fabric stores, including Wal Mart. It usually feels rough or itchy to the touch, to the point where it will chafe your skin if you use it in a garment where the lace is going to be in contact with your body (speaking from experience here!). Despite these things, because of the price and ease of availability, its used a lot by newcomers to sewing who are less familiar with the “fancier” types of lace. I suggest you avoid this stuff unless you’re going to use it in a costume, and/or in small amounts. Like I mention in the video, the lace I used on my Ninon costume was pretty cheap – but its no big deal since its only a small amount, isn’t in a place where its going to chafe my skin, and the design isn’t hideous. Plus its a costume – not something I’m going to be wearing frequently for long periods of time, like actual clothing.

It’s worth noting here that the actual quality of the lace has little to do with the design of it. This is relatively rare, but sometimes lace looks ok in terms of design, but is made of crappy quality materials that cause it to look bad when used in an actual garment. On the other hand, more commonly, a lace is made of quality materials, but the design is boring or uninspiring. For example, the first woven/crocheted cotton lace in the above example was given to me as a gift. It feels great, but there’s nothing special about the design. It would work well for certain things, however, I’m not in love with it.

On the other hand, when I found that heart lace in the third example, I chose it mostly because I loved the heart design. I bought it on eBay, so I couldn’t feel it with my hands to check the quality – I guessed based on the price and how it looked in the picture that it was probably good quality lace (and it was).

Which do I choose for making EGL clothes?

All of the good (non-plastic) ones work. In my opinion, for lolita clothing, the most versatile kind of lace is the embroidered cotton eyelet lace. It works well with most fabrics, is usually inexpensive, and can work for both formal lolita and casual style lolita. If you are making lolita clothes on a budget, go for this lace. If you want to make something a little fancier and you have more money, go for the fancier embroidered lace. It’s that simple.

Which do I choose for cosplay?

This is pretty easy – you choose lace that looks the most like the lace on your character’s outfit. 😉

I hope this post was helpful to some of you and please remember to subscribe to the new YouTube channel.

Love and light!

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