How to Do Free Standing Lace Embroidery

Machine embroidery has opened up a whole new world to me, as I keep discovering more unique ways to create gifts, ornaments, jewelry, and home projects. You can use FSL (Free Standing Lace embroidery) for small projects, or projects as large as a table cloth, or bedspread, depending on how much labor you want to put into it. Free Standing Lace Embroidery, or FSL, is one of those techniques that is not only unique and versatile, but truly stunning.

You can create lace trims for apparel, even bowls and cute little boxes, or a doily that is crocheted (it looks crocheted, but it is done in Free Standing Lace). Of course, the projects that you select must be compatible with your hoop size. A larger hoop would be more appropriate for larger projects, and small hoop should be used for your small projects.

What is Free Standing Lace Embroidery?

How to do FSL Embroidery

Free Standing Lace Embroidery is different in the way it is digitized. A Free  Standing Lace Embroidery design is built on foundation stitches, or a grid, that will hold the design together without a fabric.  In other words, it “stands alone” as a piece of lace. When selecting your designs, be sure to check with the digitizer that it is an FSL, or Free Standing Lace, design. Otherwise it will unravel, and fall apart. Free Standing Lace is embroidered directly on a piece of water soluble stabilizer, Vilene, and mesh stabilizer is the best stabilizer for FSL embroidery.

Different Types of Free Standing Lace Embroidery

  • Lace is a fine, open fabric created by various looping, twisting, and stitching of threads. Battenburg Lace, known as Renaissance Lace, and is frequently used to create tablecloths, doilies, and bridal gowns. Crochet Lace is a lace made to mimic crocheted stitches. Appliqué Lace are decorative embroidered motifs that applied to sheer fabrics such as tulle, netting etc, that create an intricate, lace effect.

Working with larger Free Standing Lace projects, or 3D Free Standing Lace, requires sewing together multiple pieces or motifs to create the project. I, personally, have not attempted a large project yet, but have created earrings, 3D hair flowers, and Christmas ornaments using Free Standing Lace designs. I am looking forward to exploring this technique even more.

I know that it sounds a little scary, but once you try it, you will realize that it’s actually quite easy. If you are interested in giving it a try, I have put together this video tutorial to help you get started.

Products used in this tutorial:

Happy Creating!
Warmly, Bonnie

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7 Responses to How to Do Free Standing Lace Embroidery

  1. Diane Guy February 21, 2015 at 4:45 AM #

    Hi, I have been looking on the internet to try and find a fsl 3d Christmas cracker gift box. Do you know where I can find one, or, if you design fsl could you design one and sell it on your page. I have tried but not yet at that standard.

    • Bonnie February 21, 2015 at 7:32 AM #

      I’m sorry but I don’t design fsl, or do digitizing, so I am unable to help you with this project.

  2. Kate Sullivan February 25, 2013 at 7:21 AM #

    I love working with FSL and I am interested in finding designs for earrings and chokers for a fund raiser for a friend with cancer. Where do you find the designs? Like teardrop, chandelier style. I have found Native American feathers on emblibrary but am looking for others..any suggestions..

    • Bonnie February 25, 2013 at 7:48 AM #

      I have purchased several from emblibrary, by looking for small fsl motifs or flowers. I have also found some on There are many resources on the web. Like I said just using some of the normal free standing lace designs that are small enough, or that can be adjusted a little will work for earring and necklaces. Good luck. :)

  3. Richa February 14, 2013 at 7:21 AM #

    Hi Bonnie,

    i am so inspired to know about this new techinque and am eager to try it. i am new machine embroidary enthuziast and looking forward for new creations and fun!
    as you have tried some free standing lace embroidary, i have a question, i want to create some free standing motifs and put it on my cloths (using fabric glue). but i am not sure if i will be able to wash the cloth without messing up the lace. please suggest.


    • Bonnie February 14, 2013 at 7:31 AM #

      As long as you fabric glue is permanent and will withstand washing, I wouldn’t think there would be a problem. Personally I would hand stitch the lace on the cloth. I have never used the permanent fabric glue, so I am not sure how well it will do. There shouldn’t be a problem with the lace. I’m curious about how the glue works for you, let me know how it works out. :)
      Thank you.

      • Richa February 14, 2013 at 7:43 AM #

        Thanks so much Bonnie for a quick reply. I was more concerned about the lace getting loose and apart then the glue. if you tsay that the lace will be fine i’ll try it. Let me try it out and i will let you know.

        Thanks again

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