Something small

Lace panel from thrift store

In between unpicking the skirt from the halter sundress and procrastinating, I did actually (almost) finish one rather small piece. You may (or may not) recall a large piece (several metres) of starched white cotton I found at the thrift store back in June. It was the kind of lovely, plain, basic fabric you rarely find at the thrift store, so I would’ve picked it up just for that, but one end had also been worked with the most amazing panel of handmade lace I’ve ever seen.

Now, admittedly I don’t know much about lace-making. I have no idea what techniques are employed, except that it looks to have been done by hand, with gorgeous patience and precision. I assume this is some kind of heirloom stitching taken to an astounding extreme. It’s one of those pieces that makes you wonder about the person who had the fabric before you, though. What kind of piece was this worked for? Was it meant to be the yoke of a shirt? Part of a Christening gown or something? Why would someone put all that work into making the lace, and then never make the final garment? (The shape and positioning on the fabric suggests garment to me, but I suppose I don’t really know even that).

Anyway, obviously it needed to become something that would showcase the beautiful lace. After some hemming and hawing, I made my decision, and cut out a second version of my sundress bodice, with the lace in the centre front panel. I toyed with the idea of putting a coloured fabric behind, to show through at the lace, but the white cotton was too sheer to hide it, so I just lined with another layer of the same fabric.

The top. Unfortunately this was the only shot where the light didn't totally wash out the lace.

It still needs straps. I had some cut out and pressed and ready to go, but somewhere between bringing it upstairs to do the handstitching I mislaid them. It actually stays up remarkably well, with that large shirred back, but I’ll feel much happier with straps anyway. I used the facing piece to make the little “collar” top, which I really love, although since I forgot to add a seam-allowance to the CF, it wound up not reaching quite to the side-seams. I hand-stitched the bottom of the bodice front together for a nice finish that doesn’t show on the front. I maybe should’ve put some interfacing strips along the V-point in the front, as it’s a bit wavy and floppy, but it’s not awful.

It looks good with shorts, but wouldn’t it be perfect with a full, puffy skirt? :)

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25 Comments

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25 responses to “Something small

  1. Exquisite!!!! Both the lace, and the way you’ve chosen to treat it. This promises to be stunning – definitely a full puff of skirt! Do you know what you’re going to use yet?

  2. Oh lovely! I can’t even imagine how that sort of lace is made. I like how you decided to showcase it! :)

  3. Nice top! I agree: you had to make something to show off that lace. It looks like some kind of needlework lace to me, but like you, I’m not an expert (my grandmother might know…)
    In your picture, the bright sunlight and your outfit suggest that it’s now truly summer where you are. That would mean that this week, it’s warmer in Canada than in the Netherlands… ;)

    • Yeah, just the last week or two we’ve had temperatures in the mid to upper twenties, with humidex even taking it up into the low thirties once or twice. This is summer, baby! You all have permission to smack me if I complain about the weather for at least a few weeks… (although I do hope it gets a bit hotter still, this weather is still in the “Summer is wonderful” range, I really hope we get some “Ugh, I want this heat to end, when is September coming?” range before the end.)

  4. That’s so interesting, taking a piece that already has a history and adding a new chapter to it! The lace is so delicate, I wish I could do that and it would take no time at all LOL! I like the shape you gave to the top- the pic is awesome!

  5. Pretty! That’s such a beautiful piece of lace and the top shows it off very nicely! I love the triangle shaped hem, too…

  6. Thats lovely- I’m sure the fabric is very happy to finally be used to it’s best advantage!

  7. Your instincts are right… I think it’s hand hem-stitching which is an heirloom technique, but the little spiderweb panels are her way of showing off a little maybe.

  8. Lovely top! And it’s a great thrift store story. Someone has obviously spent a lot of time making the beautiful lace and yet it has ended up not used and finally been consigned to the thrift shop, which if the fabric ended there would be a bit sad. However, you have discovered it, appreciated it and now it is going to be worn and is on your blog so lots of people are seeing the work that the mystery lacemaker did. How nice is that.

    • Yeah, I think this is kinda what we all hope for when we give our old or unused things to a thrift store—that someone else will find and cherish and use it fully.

      Now as long as I don’t spill grape juice on it the next time I wear it…

  9. Wonderful! Really like it! A great use of that lace piece.

  10. I totally thought “inset for a top” when I saw that lace. I probably would have made a tunic but I think your treatment is better — more modern and unique!

    I do find myself hoping that someone rehomes the stuff I take to the thrift. That’s a lucky thrift score! Did you date the lace at all? My first thought is late 60s-70s because that was the last time that kind of work was popular, but it could be even earlier.

  11. I saw lace making in Brugge, Belgium. It looks haaaaard.

  12. The lace looks like an illustration of ‘drawn-thread lace’ in one of my books (The Art of Lacemaking, by Ann Collier). The technique involves pulling out some of the threads (in this case, langth-wise) and using a needle and thread to create the pattern by stitching, perhaps like a buttonhole stitch, over groups of the remaining threads. This is not something I have ever had the patience to even try, and I can’t imagine doing it on a finely woven fabric!
    It is truly lovely, and I am so glad you used it as you did, as really showcases it.

    • Ah, I should’ve known you’d have an answer! ;). I will bring this when I come down next month so you can inspect it further. I had thought that the panels had been cut out, but now I look closer I think you’re right, the lengthwise threads have been drawn out while the crosswise threads seem to have been incorporated into the lace…

  13. What a great use of a beautiful and unique piece of fabric!

  14. So pretty! And I can’t imagine why someone would have went to all that trouble to make the lace and then forget about it either. Oh well, their loss is your gain! This will be very pretty with a full skirt–so summery and feminine. :-)

  15. Scruffy badger

    Tanit Isis strikes again. Totally adorable – perfect fabric and top to showcase the pretty lace. Yes I can imagine the look with a girlie skirt I love the Jean shorts look. You look gorgeous!
    Thank you for your sage piping advice. I certainly plan to trial it soon. I knew you’d know- you are the queen of piping!!

  16. Thank you for your comment! Hmmm, old; check. Wears purple; check, so I guess I fit the bill! Actually the quilt you mentioned is not odd or unusual at all, but a well-recognised type of quilting called Marseilles quilting. You have to really looove hand-quilting, way more than I do, to have a go at those ones!
    This top is completely adorable, and that lovely embroidery was screaming out to be showcased in a pretty garment like this. I think you’ve styled it perfectly with the little denim shorts!

  17. Lucy

    Oh, pretty! Although if I were making for myself then I’d get those straps on pronto.

    I am even getting weather envy. Britain is chilly and grey and rainy and totally rubbish given that it’s allegedly July. Sure, we don’t get the cold extremes that you do, but we don’t seem to be having the summer ones either. (Is complaining about the weather something that the colonists left behind? Just sayin’ ;-))

    • No, we definitely brought the complaining with us… although my brother gushed continually about the UK weather the whole time he was living there. Apparently mild and damp is how he likes it…

  18. That drawn thread work looks so amazing – it’s great you’ve been able to turn it into a cute-as top!

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