The Resurgence of Doilies

If ever there was a time for doilies to make a comeback, it’s now. Sound crazy? Sometime between the 1990s and now, the word “upcycled” made it into your vocabulary. There’s a resurgence of old crafts being utilized in new ways. Just search “DIY with Vintage Doilies” on Pinterest, and I bet you’ll start getting in the crafty spirit, too.

Sure, if you came to my house and I had a bunch of doilies collecting dust on my furniture, you wouldn’t be impressed; but if I sewed them into an upcycled table runner, suddenly I’m cool! Upcycled doilies are used in window treatments, wall art, doily bunting, lampshades, and even clothing! One of my favorite finds in my search on Pinterest was a clay jewelry bowl imprinted with a doily and then stamped with initials. And in this age of upcycling, the more unique and different each doily is, the better! If done well, upcycling something old can be seen as a way of honoring the original maker and continuing the appreciation of it, not just destroying the item or leaving it tossed aside in a thrift store for $1 apiece (or less!).


The branches of trees growing on pavement in an inner-city Bohemian neighborhood in Australia decorated with crocheted lace doilies sewn together. Photo by Sharon Lapkin/Getty Images.

Beverly Gordon wrote a great article for the November/December 2017 issue of PieceWork titled “The Push-Pull of the Doily: Revered, Reviled, and Reconceived.” She writes about how accessible and relatively cheap it is to find doilies in thrift and antiques stores these days. Though the intricate work of women and men in the past has been tossed aside by many, there are many of us out there that are motivated to find new uses for this “old” art form. Plus, collecting the doilies can be a fun and inexpensive hobby. The more you find, the more inspiration and opportunities will arise. And if you’re ready to try your hand at crocheting your own doily, Daniela Nii shares a beautiful Pineapple and Palm Leaf doily pattern in the November/December 2017 of PieceWork.


Daniela Nii’s “A Pineapple and Palm Leaf Doily to Crochet” will add a touch of elegance to any décor and keep the long history of doilies moving forward. Photo by George Boe.

We’d love to see your upcycled doilies. Please send photos to [email protected]. Whether knitted, crocheted, embroidered, or made from handmade lace, there’s just something about doilies!


Featured Image: Bins at a special textile sale at the St. Vincent de Paul thrift store in Madison, Wisconsin, containing hundreds and hundreds of handmade doilies selling for no more than a dollar apiece. Photo by Beverly Gordon.

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