How to Make a Free Standing Lace Doily

When I was a baby, my mother  said that I would occupy myself for hours with a lace doily, and that I was absolutely fascinated with them. Well, today in my senior years, I still have a great fascination for these beautiful, intricate lace designs that were crocheted by our grandmothers. And, although I appreciate the time that they put into those lovely doilies, technology allows us to capture some of that creativity in a matter of minutes.

Machine embroidery, and embroidery designs, provide a way to create free standing lace that looks like crochet from which we can make lace doilies, scarves, shawls, and much more! You can purchase embroidery designs that are complete with all the pieces necessary for a project, or you can get creative and use individual designs, and sew them together to create something unique. It’s like working with a jigsaw puzzle, and offers a fun and rewarding experience. Follow along with me while I make this paisley “pinwheel” lace doily – it’s easy!

Paisley Doily with Free Standing Lace Doily Tutorial:

The finished doily, using 4×4 hoop, measures 7.5″ across. Obviously, a larger hoop and design would result in a larger doily. Cotton thread is the best choice for this project, as it will give your doily more of a crocheted look.

Step One: Purchase the Free Standing Paisley Design at (Or any of the Paisley Designs that you like). Just be sure it is the right size for your hoop, and compatible file format for your machine.

Step Two:  Hoop Vilene Water Soluble Stabilizer, using a single layer. Generally, a single layer works well, but if you are working on a dense design, you may want to use a double layer.

Step Three:  Load the design onto your Embroidery Machine. I’m using a Brother SE400 embroidery sewing machine.

Step Four:  You will need to stitch out 7 Paisley pieces. You can make them all the same color or choose different colors. If you are using a hoop larger than 4×4, you can stitch out more than one at a time. I use 4×4 hoop and stitch each one individually.

NOTE: Middle photo, 2nd row, shows 8 pieces, but you will only need 7 for the lace doily.

Step Five:  Cut the designs out of stabilizer, leaving about a quarter of an inch of stabilizer all the way around each design.

Step Six: Take your designs to the sink or a bowl of warm water and rinse off the stabilizer thoroughly. If you want your doily to be softer, you can do a second rinse using a little fabric softener. Lay the designs flat on a towel, and let dry.

Step Seven:  Lay your lace designs out in a pinwheel fashion. Set your machine for a wide, loose zig zag stitch. Take the first two paisley pieces, line them up, and stitch together only where they meet, and touch each other. They should require about an inch of stitching where they touch. Continue to add the other pieces, repeating the same step.

Step Eight:  Set your machine for a straight stitch. Take the center of your lace doily (where all of the Paisley tails meet) and gently stitch a couple of circles close to the center, connecting the pieces together. Then, do a couple of cross stitches (X) across the center. The idea is to gently connect these center pieces without creating a big gob of thread in the middle, so don’t over do it!

Clip your threads, and you are done. You can do this with any FSL Designs; just use your imagination! For visual instructions, please see my video tutorial on how to make this cute, machine-embroidered lace doily, below.

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2 Responses to How to Make a Free Standing Lace Doily

  1. mark becker November 24, 2013 at 1:00 AM #

    Hello , excellent article , I was wondering if a hacky sack could be successfully made on one of these machines ?

    • Rachel December 3, 2013 at 11:15 AM #

      Well, technically, I suppose you could make a fabric-based hacky sack on any sewing machine using a panel-styled pattern (like they use for pincushions), or maybe even a square one. For a more traditionally styled one, though, I would recommend using a nice cotton yarn to tightly crochet one in the round (or spiral) and of course, stuffing it with something like dried rice, corn, or lentils. I haven’t tested these ideas, but it would be the first things I’d try in a prototype. Currently, I don’t have much use for a hacky sack. :)

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