Lace Ribbon Buying Guide

Like if this guide is helpful
Lace Ribbon Buying Guide

Lace is used as a decoration for everything from wedding dresses to pillows, and it gives a touch of flair to everyday objects. Seamstresses prefer using lace to soften the edges of a fabric, allowing it to look more feminine and alluring. However, not all types of lace that are sold in craft stores, and online through retailers like eBay, are of the same quality.

There is a big difference in the look and feel of high quality lace when compared to low quality options, but beginning sewers often have a difficult time determining the best type of lace to use for a project. Professionals often explain the qualities that set lace apart by using terms like netting, bobbin, and crocheting, but a beginner may not know exactly what these words mean. When it comes to lace, a wise buyer should do a bit of research first into the different materials and types of lace in order to make a wise purchasing decision.

Understanding the Varieties of Lace

Lace is an embroidered fabric that was once created exclusively by hand, but today is often made by machines. Most of the expensive types are still handmade, but that does not mean that all machine-made pieces are subpar. There are several different factors used to determine high quality from low quality, and it all begins with how the lace is made.

Lace Terms

Lace starts out as a piece of loosely woven fabric. A pattern is then embroidered onto the fabric using several different methods. Typical patterns include: eyelets, flowers, or even geometrical designs.


Netting is the bare thread of the fabric that primarily holds the lace together. One of the easiest ways to examine the quality of the lace is to look at the netting. A good lace uses the netting as part of the pattern so that it is almost invisible. Machine-made laces usually deploy simply pre-selected patterns over the netting, creating a very blocky design that allows the netting to stand out. Buyers who are shopping for quality should look for lace that work with the netting, as opposed to working against it.


Lace is made from both natural and synthetic fabric. Ultimately, the type of fabric chosen affects the quality, softness, and thickness of the lace. This is due to the stitching process itself which reinforces the fabric. Lace that is made from stretchy synthetics like rayon or nylon, do not hold their shape quite as well. They start folding up at the ends, and sometimes refuse to lay flat. Furthermore, they are usually very thin and feel itchy against the skin.


Cotton was used for centuries for lace making, and it is still the fabric of choice among quality lace makers today. This fabric has several things in its favour that the synthetic fabrics lack. Cotton is a very thick and sturdy fabric, so it provides the perfect backdrop for heavily embroidered laces. Once the pattern is done, there is very little stretch left in the material. This means that the lace holds its shape more than synthetic fibres would over a longer period of time. Finally, the reason most people love working with cotton is the feel of the lace on one's skin. Other natural fabrics that compare to cotton, and are often used for lace ribbons, include grosgrain and organza.

Lace Types

There is an overwhelming selection when it comes to different types of lace sold in the stores, or through online markets such as eBay. Many pieces of lace are given their own names, but it is helpful for beginners to remember that essentially there are only four types of lace. Production determines the type of lace. Most craft stores sell machine lace because it is easy to make, and somewhat inexpensive to buy. Handmade laces are usually only found in specialty shops, or online via eBay. Oftentimes, these handmade laces take the names of the places where the method of making them has originated.

Needle Lace

Needle lace is a handmade material that uses a needle and thread as the primary components of creation. The pattern is slowly woven onto the lace using a buttonhole stitch, which adds thickness to the overall design. In fact, one of the easiest ways to tell needle lace apart from the other types is by simply feeling how thick it is compared to machine lace. The downside to needle lace is that the stitching makes it look bulky against the other types.

Bobbin Lace

Bobbin lace is woven using bobbins, as well as a lace pattern that is attached to a pillow. The weaver holds the bobbins in the hands and passes them over and under one another to form the design. Some patterns are extremely complex and can even employ the use of hundreds of bobbins.

This is one of the oldest forms of lace making, and Belgian nuns created laces this way as a way to pass the time. Today some of the most expensive lace in the world are made using the bobbin method. They are rarely seen in craft stores, but can be found in high-end fabric shops, and through websites such as eBay.

Crochet Lace

Crochet lace is made using the crochet method of knitting. Unlike traditional crochet which uses large hooks and thick threads, lace made this way uses small hooks and delicate threads. This method still produces a thick lace akin to needle lace. It was once considered a fake lace, but in recent years this style has become more acceptable.

Machine Lace

Machine lace is what most buyers come across when shopping in most craft stores. Machine lace started to be produced after the Industrial Revolution when people realised that machines could stitch patterns. It is relatively inexpensive to produce machine lace, and some manufacturers even offer incredibly affordable patterns by using less expensive synthetic fabrics. However, machine lace is not as intricate as handmade lace and, is often preferred for decorative items instead of clothing

Popular Laces

Over the years, several varieties of lace have become quite popular. These premium laces are used for wedding dresses, as well as other types of clothing. Beginners who are looking to lace to add some extra style to dresses cannot go wrong with these types.








Very Expensive







Clothing, Decorative




Clothing, Decorative

Moderate to Expensive



Clothing, Decorative


Some types of laces have a typical pattern that allows them to be more easily identified. Chantilly lace, for example, often uses flowers while cluny uses geometric shapes. Other types such as Valenciennes, use various designs, and they are identified by the unique style of the weave more so than the pattern.


Buyers are going to come across a wide variety of prices when it comes to buying lace. The most affordable type is machine lace, but this is not always the best choice for clothing. Machine lace is often made from synthetic material that feels coarse against the skin. If a buyer does go with machine lace, it is best to find one made of cotton.

Handmade laces are typically more expensive, but the buyers do get a higher quality product. Beginners who are working with lace for the first time should start out with one of the less expensive varieties before getting into handmade laces. They can practise working with lace first before investing a large amount of money into buying premium products.

How to Buy Lace Ribbon on eBay

Seamstresses young and old, have discovered that eBay is the perfect place to buy all of the hard to find types of laces. While there are plenty of machine made laces available on the site at very affordable prices, buyers can also enter into the world of handmade laces. It is also important to note that many of the handmade varieties for sale on eBay are sold at below retail price, allowing buyers to save money even on a higher end product.

eBay is an extremely robust website that houses a plethora of different lace ribbons at highly affordable prices. It is best to begin your search by typing 'lace ribbon' into the search engine. This pulls up all results for lace ribbons, but it is likely after browsing through the listing that you require more specific results. Try searching by the fabric type, such as 'grosgrain lace ribbon', to get highly accurate results. You can also search for 'bridal lace' if you are looking for ribbons to put on a wedding dress, or 'clothing lace' if you are just searching for pieces in general.


Lace ribbons are used as trimmings for clothing and other decorative items, and can add a touch of pizzazz to any item on display. When it comes to buying lace, there is a staggering amount of choices available on the market. A buyer needs to know what type of lace works best for her project before making a purchase since there is a large difference in pricing between different laces.

The first thing a buyer should look at is the material used to make the lace, as well as the overall quality. Laces that are very thick are likely handmade, while laces that show a lot of netting are usually machine made. Machine made laces are typically more affordable, but handmade laces use a higher degree of craftsmanship. If the buyer is only going to use it for lace trimmings on a pillow, or for children's clothes, then purchasing less expensive lace is probably the way to go. Laces used for clothing typically demand higher quality, and many of those pieces can only be found on eBay at exceptional values.

Have something to share? Create your own guide... Write a guide
Explore more guides