Keeper of the textiles- doily edition

Today I was ironing. in addition to the tablecloths shirts and dresses that are part of my weekly ironing, this week I had a batch of doily's to iron. The sainted woman who cleans my house artistically covers various tables and dressers with some of the many bits of old linens in my collection. She changes them as they get dusty. I dutifully wash and iron them so she can put out a new fresh batch.

Most of these come from from my friend Vivian. All of these pieces are small. None is bigger than about 8 inches across.   The round eyelet doily probably came from Mary, Uncle Irving's long time girlfriend. She and the rest of her family were heavy smokers. Nearly every piece I inherited from her has at least one cigarette burn

 The eyelet design on the doily below isn't all that interesting but the quality of the work is pretty spectacular. I don't know if you can see the teeny French knots at the center of each quadrant. I think this is a bread tray liner.

This doily has been worked in fine linen thread that is about as thick as sewing thread. It's about 6 inches at it's widest.

I am really fond of this piece. It was either made by a child or someone who just had a little bit of trouble doing handwork. Everything about this piece, the design, the embroidery and even the shape is just a bit wonky. If you look at it too closely and for too long you will probably get seasick.

Some of this batch of doily's don't seem all that special until you realize how fine the work is. These pieces are small, no bigger than a bread plate.
This pattern appeared in several different ladies' magazines in the early part of the 20th century. I have dresser scarves done in the same pattern, but with a much heavier crochet thread. This piece is worked in thread just a shade heavier than sewing thread.

This little cupid is not holding a tennis racket but a mirror. I believe this sort of work is called Italian lace. The linen in the center is extraordinarily fine. 

This little doily was made out of what was probably the scrap of a summer dress and someone sewed a length of crochet lace to trim it.

I never would have expected to have a life filled with doily's. They are a little bit silly. On the other hand they are also the testament of the work of the hands of many many women over many generations. So I do line my cake platters with some of these pieces when I serve dessert.  Of course it's silly, but these beautiful bits of work might as well see the light of day and be used.


  1. Didn't see your post the other day about being ill. Sounds like something is working if you are ironing doilies!
    Hope you are feeling better.

  2. Antibiotics are quite something.

  3. With today's 'throw-it-out' attitude prevalent in the world it's nice to see how much you cherish these treasures. I have a few similar treasures made by family members that have passed on. It helps keep their memories alive.

  4. I do treasure them. Some were clearly made at home -others were more professionally (like the Italian lace with the cupids) made perhaps in more of a workshop setting. The ones pictured here are just the teeniest tip of the iceberg of my collection. Most of them are stashed away, just because there is a limit to how many I can use at any time.


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