Tag Archives: repairing torn lace

Fancy Band Frustrations!

This post from 2015 definitely needs to be shared again as we get ready for those holiday dresses!

You know what I’m talking about – those beautiful fancy bands that grace the special heirloom dresses. True labors of love!  I love working with lace.


It is such a delight to see these beautiful creations being worn by the special little ones in our lives! They look so angelic and sweet. Then that moment comes, that horrifying moment when those sweet little feet step on the band and the damage is done – the beautiful band is torn. Well, I have 2 of those mishaps that needed repair work. Ugh!  A truly dreaded task!!!

As I cleaned up in the sewing room last week, I came across the more recent disaster.  I’m sure that you’ll recognize this dress. This dress was originally made for Australian Smocking and Embroidery magazine (Issue #84).

picture me

Then a few short years after publication, I was thrilled to see Ella wearing it for Easter and her little sister Eva wearing a blue dotted Swiss day gown to co-ordinate. They were adorable.

Dotted Swiss Heirloom Dress

Isn’t that the sweetest picture ever!!!  Cousin Livvy also wore a dotted Swiss dress and was equally cute.

Livvy Easter 2013 a

This dress was featured in SB #146 and was appropriately called Olivia’s Easter dress.


However, before we could get pictures of all 3 little girls together in their dresses, the dastardly deed happened and the fancy band was torn.  🙁  Thank goodness for a pretty slip underneath!

The time had come to fix this dress while I still have enough eyesight left to pick out those stitches. Imagine my delight when I discovered that I had already picked out the torn lace on the blue dress!!! Oh the joy! The job of repair just got infinitely easier.

While I was at it, I knew that I should also fix the torn fancy band that has been waiting for 19+ years for repair. This was worn by our youngest daughter, Lauren, for Christmas when she was 4 or 5 years old. She wore that dress several times before the band was torn. I pulled that one out as well – might as well get both of them done.

Here’s the only picture I could find of her in the dress. I kindly cropped out the rest of the kids in their very 90’s outfits! LOL! They will be happy for the cropping!

Lauren 2

I wish I could say that I had already picked out this torn lace, but alas, that wasn’t the case. Not only had I not picked out the lace, but I apparently had the not so bright idea to cut away the torn lace close to the header. Bad idea!!! I also managed to make a bad mistake even worse. Before realizing that I had not properly removed the damaged lace, I starched (aka: glued) the lace heavily in preparation for sewing. Oy! Now the nearly invisible stitches were glued to the fancy band! What a horrible job that ended up being!!!  I think I spent 6+ hours un-sewing.

Finally, I was ready to begin the actual repair work. As I mentioned – I heavily starched all the lace areas – the laces attached to the dress as well as the lace to be re-inserted. I soaked the laces with starch and let them dry over night. Once dry, I pressed everything and began.  (excuse the wrinkles – I wasn’t pressing the entire dress when I knew they would need pressing once finished!)


The new lace was attached to one side of the lace (doesn’t matter which side you chose to start with). I started and stopped the lace about 1-1/2″ away from the side seam so that I could accurately sew the lace seam and have it fit properly. I marked the lace with a blue wash out marker exactly where the side seam should be, then french seamed the lace. At that point I was able to stitch the final section of lace on.


As you can see in the top picture, the original lace band top edges don’t meet exactly.  As I stitched the new lace to the original band, I carefully stitched over that section making sure that I caught the header threads of both laces. It ended up smooth when I was finished.  Disguised very well.

Next in order was re-attaching the band to the dress lace section. Before doing this, use a blue wash out marker and mark the dress/lace as well as the band/lace in sections.  Side seams and center front and center back should be marked first. Then mark half way between these marks as well (see red arrows). This gives you guide lines as you stitch the lace band back to the dress. Without marking, it is likely that either the upper lace or the lower lace will feed through the machine unevenly and the result will be that there will be extra lace on either the upper or lower band that will be too much to ease back in. Marking the sections allows you to ensure that everything fits back in place. UPDATE – you can also use a water soluble stabilizer underneath everything to help stabilize while you are stitching.

IMG_9587 copy

Once the bands were back on both dresses, they needed to first have the blue marks rinsed out. Do this with cold water ONLY – no detergent!!! Then the dresses needed to be washed.  

The white dress had really gotten dingy looking from years of storage.  I went for the Retro Clean to brighten up the dress. This stuff works wonders!!!


A couple of hours of soaking the white dress and it looked new again. I’ll let the “before” and “after pictures speak for themselves. I didn’t Photoshop the colors on either of them.


As you can well imagine – I highly recommend this product!  It worked wonders in just a couple of hours.  In case you need more convincing, here’s a picture of another dress that was whitened more recently. I discovered that the ingredient in Retro Clean is sodium peborate, which can be purchased without being repackaged as Retro Clean or Restoration. These are all the same, so any one of them can be used for whitening. the picture below shows the whitened dress on a yellow background vs. the yellowed dress on a white background – such a difference!!!

So, a day of work is done.  Both dresses are fixed and ready for the next wearing! Hopefully the next wearing won’t involve torn fancy bands. However, if they do, well, I’d rather have the dresses be worn rather than just decorating the closets. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that Lauren’s Christmas dress will fit Ella this year. That way I’m ahead of the game for Christmas dresses!


I hope that you don’t have to repair fancy bands. The job isn’t fun, but in the end, it was well worth it!

Keep on stitching……