What is Eyelet Lace?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

There are numerous styles of lace, a decorative and delicate fabric made by weaving or knitting fine thread into a decorative open pattern. Eyelet lace is one of the most common, and is distinguished by the large holes, or eyelets, integrated into the pattern at regular intervals. It can be found in all shapes, sizes, and colors, and is commonly used as trim or as an insert in garments. It can be manufactured on a machine or by hand, and is readily available in machine made form on large spools in most craft and sewing stores.

Woman with a flower
Woman with a flower

Eyelet lace starts with a fundamental pattern, which is able to repeat infinitely. Common motifs are geometric shapes like diamonds, squares, and circles, floral themes, and simple abstract patterns. There is usually at least one set of repeating eyelets in the pattern, and sometimes an assortment of varying shapes and sizes to make it more visually interesting. Usually, eyelet lace comes in the form of a strip which can vary from less than an inch (2.5 centimeters) to several inches in width, depending on the application. When designed for use as trim, the eyelet lace may have a decorative edge, and is sometimes sold with two decorative edges for unique projects.

Basic eyelet lace usually lies flat, while some decorative eyelet lace is ruffled. Ruffled lace is frequently used on undergarments such as underpants, camisoles, and slips, while flat eyelet lace is more commonly used as an insert panel on a garment to add textural contrast. The uses of eyelet lace in clothing are limited only by the imagination of the sewer, although because it is slightly delicate, care should be taken when placing it to ensure that it will not endure large amounts of stress.

While lace is classically white, eyelet lace can be found in a variety of colors, especially in trim form, so that the trim will blend with the primary garment. Eyelet lace can also be dyed to meet specific needs, and some hand made eyelet lace is also hand dyed with natural dyes from plants, flowers, and fungi for a delicate, unique look. Large gauges of eyelet lace can be knit or crocheted, and make fun crafts projects. Smaller gauges are more challenging, and very hard on the eyes, but patterns are available for patient crafters.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Was eyelet lace available during the American Civil War (1861-1865)?

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