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How to Embroider Freestanding Lace Tutorial

In this blog, we'll take you through our favourite threads for creating gorgeous freestanding lace projects.

Freestanding lace is a wonderful technique that lends itself to a wide variety of applications. From Christmas ornaments and gift decorations to doilies and edgings, this is an easy and beautiful way to add a personal touch to just about anything. Today we’ll be showing you how to embroider freestanding lace as well as a few of our thread suggestions and embroidery tips to get you started with this beautiful technique.

1. Choosing the Right Thread to Suit Your Freestanding Lace Project

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Spotlite 40wt Rayon Core Metallic Thread

This 40wt metallic thread is called Spotlite, and it’s made with a rayon core that prevents it from stretching in your machine and causing annoying thread breaks. This is the thread we’ll be demonstrating the technique with. Metallic is a beautiful choice for freestanding lace because of its shine, so we love using it for Christmas tree ornaments. However, it’s important to always choose a quality metallic thread when doing machine embroidery as a low quality metallic thread can cause tension problems, thread breaks, and ugly stitches. We recommend a 90/14 metallic needle when using this thread.

Shop Spotlite 40wt metallic thread or find a local retailer:

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DecoBob 80wt Cottonized Polyester Thread

Another option is this 80wt polyester thread called DecoBob. It’s a super fine thread that makes it an ideal choice for really intricate or small designs, allowing you to get all the details in the design. One of the biggest benefits to using DecoBob for freestanding lace, or really any kind of thread lace, is that your stitched out lace will be incredibly soft to the touch. We recommend using a 70/10 microtex needle when using DecoBob.

Shop DecoBob 80wt cottonized polyester thread or find a local retailer:

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Konfetti 50wt Long Staple Egyptian Cotton Thread

You can even make thread lace with cotton, which is a good choice for when you want a piece with a matte finish. This is a 50wt cotton called Konfetti which is best when making things like doilies, or when you want that natural cotton look on a piece of clothing. We recommend using an 80/12 microtex needle when using Konfetti.

Shop Konfetti 50wt long staple Egyptian cotton or find a local retailer:

2. Setting up Your Freestanding Lace Project

Water Soluble Stabilizer

After selecting the ideal thread for your freestanding lace project you’ll want to set up your embroidery hoop with water soluble stabilizer. There are a few different kinds on the market, but we prefer the soft fabric-like stabilizer. Other kinds of water soluble stabilizer with a more plastic-like appearance doesn’t function as well for this delicate technique.

The brand we used is Wet N Gone by Floriani:

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Choosing the Right Machine Embroidery Design

Finally, you’ll want your embroidery machine and design. Choose a design that is made for freestanding lace, which will have a lot of connections throughout that will hold it together. Try not to choose a design that has open ends along the edges as once the stabilizer is washed away, those strands won’t be able to support themselves and will flop.

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If you don’t like or don’t have any suitable freestanding lace designs that come with your embroidery machine, there are plenty of online resources to download some new ones. You can find a lot of beautiful designs for sale at

3. How to Embroider Freestanding Lace

We’re going to be demonstrating with Spotlite because metallic thread can be a bit trickier to work with, so we’ll show you all the tips that will make it work beautifully. If you’re very comfortable with your sewing machine, you can wind the bobbin with the same metallic thread you’re using on the top, as freestanding lace is visible from both sides, so this will be one of the very few times you can use metallic thread in the bobbin. However, if you want an easy project without worrying about thread breakage issues or tension problems, then we strongly recommend using a finer bobbin thread, such as DecoBob 80wt thread. While the backside won’t look exactly the same as the front, you can still colour match and create a beautiful thread lace design.

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When using metallic thread, it’s a good idea to use a thread stand such as the Thread Tamer to help take the twists out of the metallic thread and help the thread relax before it enters the machine. This will result in much fewer breakages and a more consistent tension.

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For a closer look at the Thread Tamer or to order your own, click here:

4. Wrapping Up Your Freestanding Lace Design

Once your embroidery hoop is loaded with water soluble stabilizer, set it up in your machine and let it stitch away! Keep an eye on your embroidery as it stitches to ensure there aren’t any thread breaks or tension problems. When the design is stitched out, take it out of the embroidery hoop and trim the excess stabilizer.

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The only thing left to do is toss it in a bowl of warm water to melt the rest away. You can gently rub the lace between your fingers to remove the stabilizer between the smaller gaps. When all the stabilizer is gone, allow your freestanding lace to air dry.

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The thread lace may not dry completely flat. If the edges are curling, you can drop a piece of protective fabric over your lace and give it a quick press with the iron so that the entire piece is laying flat.

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And that’s all there is to it! Freestanding lace is a must for any machine embroiderer because of how simple and beautiful it is to make. Experiment with different designs and threads to make something totally unique to you.

5. Where to Buy These Threads

Want to try it for yourself? Find a store in your area that carries WonderFil, or shop online at

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“Spotlite is by far, the best metallic thread I have used!  With the rayon core it is very supple, yet no stretch. The ease of use, whether on a Domestic, Longarm, or a Commercial embroidery machine, it runs beautifully with no issues. The shine is exceptional! Layering Spotlite in embroideries gives it an iridescent quality like no other.”

– Teri Cherne, Award Winning Quilter

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