Want trade secrets on making Dancesport, Country & Skate dresses?

Get the Sew Like A Pro™ newsletter!


Custom appliqués made by Sew Like A Pro™ member, Julie in the United Kingdom.


Lace appliqué motifs make beautiful embellishments for dance and skate costumes.

Of course, I am a little biased towards ballroom dance and country dancing costumes, Salsa dance, Argentine tango dresses, ice and artistic roller skating dresses.

Really though, lace motifs like these can be used on any style dance or skate costume  … or on a wedding dress, evening gown, or any other sewing project.


Yes, you can buy lace appliqués at many different fabric stores.  However, it can be hard to find the exact design you are looking for.  So… sew… why not make your own?

You can purchase lace type fabrics by the yard or meter, and cut out your own lace motifs.

It’s creative, fun, and fairly easy!


All of the photos, videos, and instructions in this tutorial are Julie, one of my sewing school students, and Lorena Ballard, who participated in my dress design masterclasses.

Thanks sew much ladies for sharing how you made your lovely motifs!



gemtac glue, stencil cutting tool, and other supplies
Lace appliqués being made by Lorena Ballard.

1. Supplies for Cutting Lace Appliqués

Before you begin cutting your own lace motifs, you may need to shop for a few supplies.  Fortunately, the shopping list is very short.




Never miss free dressmaker training! Get the Sew Like A Pro™ newsletter.

We value your privacy and would never spam you




2. How to Add a Backing to Your Lace

black lace and red satin backing for cutting out lace motifs
SLP™ member Julie lays out her black lace and red satin underlay to make motifs.


This step is optional, but depending on what kind of lace you choose, you may want to add a backing to your lace motifs.  There are several reasons for adding a backing to your lace appliqués.


1. Adding a fabric or interface backing will make your appliqués stiffer and more 3-D.

2. If your lace motifs are really fragile, a backing can help hold them together and protect them.

3. Lastly, using an underlay is a good way to incorporate another accent color into your design.

  • You can choose a backing fabric that matches your dress so it looks invisible.
  • You can also choose a color that contrasts with the color of the lace appliqués or with the color of your dress.   For example, Sew Like a Pro™ member Julie chose a red satin underlay for her black appliqués, because red was the accent color on her black dress.



If you decide to add a backing to your lace appliqué motifs, Julie suggests you attach the lace to the underlay before cutting the lace.  She glued her two fabrics together and make sure they were as flat and smooth as possible before she began cutting.


Watch Julie's short videos showing how she glued and sewed the fabrics together.





Once the glue dried, Julie stitched the two layers together.   She suggests you stitch around the outline of each motif so it is firmly attached to the underlay fabric or interfacing.



“I found the easiest and most accurate method was to use a straight stitch, drop the feed dogs, and use the free motion/darning foot on my sewing machine.  I outlined each motif and also stitched around the inner "holes" for the larger pieces.”  - Julie


stitching red satin underlay



ballroom dress in progress with lace appliques and a slit skirt
Julie's dress in progress


Prior to basting her fabrics together, Julie also used a wood burning tool to enlarge some of the openings in the lace.  She did this extra step so the red satin underlay would be more visible.

In other words, black lace on a black dress doesn't show up much, right?  Using an accent red fabric as the underlay makes her decorative motifs show up beautifully.

How much underlay you show depends on your personal preference, what type of lace you buy, and what color(s) are on your dress.


Thanks sew much Julie for providing these pictures and recording your process making appliqués!




Never miss free dressmaker training! Get the Sew Like A Pro™ newsletter.

We value your privacy and would never spam you


3. How to Cut Out Lace Appliqué Motifs

Once you have your lace and other supplies, it is time to start cutting out your motifs.

These step-by-step instructions and beautiful tutorial images were all provided by Lorena Ballard.  She bought this beaded lace from Thompson's Creations, which has great laces and trims.


beaded lace appliques onto nylon tulle

1. Heat your hot cutting tool

It's important to allow your tool to heat up fully before cutting your appliqués.

Lorena also said you definitely want to keep a nearby window open to vent the fumes from the melting plastic!


2. Test your hot tool on your lace

Before you start cutting away, make sure you aren't going to ruin the lace.

Most lace is appliquéd onto nylon tulle, organza or some other synthetic fabric.  Each fabric will react differently to the hot knife.  Do several tests before jumping in with both feet.

  • Test your hot tool on a scrap of fabric to make sure it doesn’t burn or discolor.
  • If everything looks good, go one step further and practice on an "ugly" lace area that was mangled when the length of fabric was cut at the store.
  • Once you feel confident using the soldering iron, begin cutting your real appliqué pieces.


3. Glue all the beaded threads

If you have a non-beaded lace, you can ignore this step.  But for beaded lace, glue  the backs of all threads that hold any beads in place.   Make sure the threads are dry before you begin cutting the shapes.

Any glue that dries clear will work.   However, a lightweight glue like GemTac or FrayCheck will be easier to sew through (though less permanent when hand washing)  than a thicker epoxy glue like E6000 or Goop.


gluing the beaded lace threads down prior to cutting
Lorena demonstrated how she glues all the beaded threads down prior to cutting.


cutting out beaded lace with a hot stencil cutting tool

4. Use your hot knife to cut out the lace motifs.

Finally, you can start cutting.

The hot tool easily glides through the synthetic fibers of the tulle without any pressure. You are literally melting hair thin plastic.

If you find yourself pushing or pulling through the tulle, your tool is not hot enough.  You can get really close to the appliqué, but be careful.  The threads used in the embroidery could also be synthetic and you could scorch or warp the appliqué.




"Get a wood burner tool (I found a stencil cutting tool, basically the same thing) and just melt the nylon tulle around the appliqués!  BAM!  Fast, smooth edges, no cramped fingers!"  

- Lorena





Even if you have a backing attached to your lace, it should be very easy to cut out the motifs.  Watch these short videos to see how to use a hot knife to cut your lace motifs.





Never miss free dressmaker training! Get the Sew Like A Pro™ newsletter.

We value your privacy and would never spam you


How to Appliqué the Lace Motifs Onto Your Dress

beaded lace applique motif



Once you have your newly-cut lace appliqué motifs, it is time to start thinking about how to attach them to your dress.

You have two options: gluing or sewing.

Personally, I like to glue on lace appliqués because it is much faster than pinning and sewing.

However, if you think you may want to change the lace design in the future, I suggest you sew the motifs on.  If you stitch on the lace, you can always rip the stitching to remove the lace appliqués.

On the other hand, if the decorative pieces are glued down, it will be much harder to remove them without damaging the lace or the dress.   And, you will have unattractive glue stains on your costume.

For a full video tutorial on applying lace appliqués to a ballroom dance costume, go to my blog on how to decorate a dance or skate costume with lace.



Never miss a design or dressmaker tip!

Leave a Comment or a Question