A lace bolero is a great non-traditional wedding accessory. Boleros flatter different body types and go well with a variety of wedding dress styles. You can purchase one or if you're creative follow a few simple instructions to make a sleeveless bolero.
What Is a Bolero?
Though most often thought of in terms of the Spanish dance of the same name, a bolero is actually a short jacket that is open in the front. A bolero may have long or short sleeves, but is often sleeveless. Wedding bolero jackets are sometimes worn by brides at formal weddings and are made from satin, lace, or even fur. Boleros are similar to shrugs and are commonly worn instead of shawls or sweaters. Wedding boleros are most often worn along with mantilla veils in traditional Latin American weddings as a tribute to their Spanish heritage.
Types and Uses of Lace Boleros
The most commonly seen lace boleros are made from embroidered tulle, but may also be made from finely crocheted or knitted thread. For colder climates or weddings held during the winter months, brides often opt to wear a satin bolero with a lace overlay. Lace used in overlays is normally a repeating pattern of flowers or vines, whereas sheer boleros are embroidered only along the sleeves.
Boleros are designed to be worn over the wedding gown, so are most often used to complement a strapless dress or one with spaghetti straps. Heavily beaded gowns work better with sheer lace boleros, so the dress is not overpowered. Simple wedding dresses can be accented by an extensively adorned bolero and look wonderful.
How to Make a Sleeveless Lace Wedding Bolero
Tools and Materials
- Sewing machine
- Heavy cotton thread (the same color as the lace)
- Lace material (approximately two yards)
- Measuring tape
- Measure your bust by placing the measuring tape around your chest at the largest area. This will be to determine the bolero fullness. Have a friend measure the length from the base of your neck to three inches above your waist and the width from the tip of one shoulder to the tip of the other. This will be the measurement used to cut the piece for the bolero back. Next, measure the length from your collarbone to three inches below your bust. This will determine the bolero length.
- Using your measurements, trace an outline with chalk onto a large piece of paper, such as tissue paper for gift bagging or a paper grocery bag that has been cut open and laid flat. Trace the back piece by using the length and width measurements of your back. Cut out the pattern and set aside. Trace each of the front pieces by taking the bust measurement, dividing into fourths, and then adding an inch. For example, if your bust at the widest part measures 34 inches, each of the two front pieces would be 9.5 inches wide. The length should be equal to the measurement you took from the collarbone to three inches below your bust. After tracing both pieces, cut them out and set aside.
- Place the lace material right side down and pin the back piece to the material using straight pins. Carefully cut the piece out leaving approximately a one-half inch extra amount of fabric all the way around for the seams. Repeat with both of the front pieces and then remove the pins and throw the paper away.
- With right sides facing, pin each of the front pieces to the back with straight pins leaving enough room along the edges to stitch the hem. Starting with the top, stitch the lace wedding bolero pieces together at the shoulders. Before stitching the side hems, mark the material with chalk where the arms will fit. To figure out how big the openings should be, turn the material right side out and put the bolero over your shoulders. With your arms held out to the sides have a helper pin the seam together so that it allows you to comfortably move your arms. The seam should not be so tight under the armpit that it makes it hard to shrug your shoulders without the bodice riding up. Stitch up the sides to complete the assembly.
- Finish the hem by folding approximately one-half inch of the material and ironing flat. Stitch to prevent the lace from fraying. Try on to confirm the fit and then hand wash to eliminate any chalk marks still present.
Where to Buy Boleros
If making a lace wedding bolero is outside of your scope of expertise or you are simply pressed for time, there are many companies that sell them. Make sure you order as early as possible so you will have time for alterations in the event it does not fit as well as you would like.
Other Bolero Uses
Once the big day is over, there is no need to pack your bolero away. Instead, add a colorful pin and wear it with a nice shirt and slacks. By pairing the bolero with pants you can get more than just one use out of it. In fact, a bolero is perfect for a night out to an upscale restaurant with your new husband.