Abstract: Precise cutting of pattern strips and pattern pieces from lace and similar patterned fabrics requires correct mutual positioning of the fabric and fabric cutter for precise alignment with the boundary of the pattern pre-existing on the fabric. Patterned fabrics and especially loosely-woven lace are liable to randomly variable stretching and slippage which makes it impossible to cut under the direction of an externally imposed pattern program without regard to the instantaneous location of the pattern pre-existing on the fabric. The invention comprises lace-cutting apparatus and a lace-cutting method including optical scanning of the lace, recognition of the pattern boundary, and mutual alignment of the fabric with the fabric cutter to trace the intended cut line. Different techniques for mutual movement of the fabric and cutter are employed according to whether the pattern boundary is re-entrant or not. Preferred forms of fabric cutter include a hot-wire cutter and a laser beam cutter.