How To: Free Standing Lace Embroidery

A machine-embroidered Free Standing Lace bookmark.
We traveled to my brother's on Sunday for my nephew's first communion.  I wasn't sure what little gift to give and I had waited too long to order something online, so I thought I would make him a bookmark for his bible.  I found this cross design on

I made this lace bookmark on my embroidery machine using a free standing lace (FSL) design.  These designs are stitched on a water-soluble stabilizer.  Once the embroidery is soaked in water, all that remains is the thread.

Only embroidery designs that have been created for FSL technique will work since the stitches have to be designed to hold together without any fabric.  The FSL designs do tend to have higher stitch-counts because of this.  Here is how it is done.

1.  Hoop a layer or two of water soluble stabilizer.   My preference for FSL is Vilene, which is a non-plastic type of wash-away stabilizer.
I used two layers of Vilene in the hoop.

2.  If the lace will be seen from both sides when finished, fill your bobbin with matching top thread. Stitch the design directly on the hooped stabilizer.

Stitching finished.

3.  Once complete, remove from hoop and trim away the stabilizer from the embroidery.

4.  Soak the design is a pan of water.  I use warm-temperature water.  The stabilizer dissolves quickly. The longer you soak the design, the softer it will become.
No more stabilizer!

5.  Bolt the design, and lay flat to dry.

That is it.

I added a ribbon on top and was done.

There are some really great free standing lace designs available (just google it!).  They are fun little projects to do.

Happy Stitching!


  1. That's beautiful!! Definitely a keepsake to treasure :) I've just discovered aqua film too (as usual I was a little overambitious and made a piano hat, although it did work!) but my projects are more thread 'doodles' than such a neat and clean design (well done you!) ;)

  2. This is a new process to me, it looks beautiful. A great keepsake to treasure.

    Jan x

  3. The bookmark is stunning. Really interesting to see how you created it.
    Ali x

  4. What an amazing gift. So very clever too - a bit of magic!

  5. That is beautiful and such an unusual gift too.

  6. The dissolving stabiliser is great isn't it? Enabling you create something entirely out of thread. A lovely present.


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