Well, Hello, Doily

Welcome to My Place to Yours!  If this is your first time to stop by for a visit, I hope you enjoy yourself and come back often. If you’ve been here before, I’m happy you’ve returned!When last we met, I was layering and sharing the warmth of a simple, cuddly-soft Winter tablescape … and I used vintage doilies for one layer of texture.

Click here to see the entire tablescape.

You may remember that I said doilies are NOT old-fashioned — and that we should talk about that sometime.  Well, I already knew that I was going to do this post today (I’m occasionally organized like that), so here we are.

Let’s talk about these beauties …

As the story goes, doilies were named for Mr. Doily (sometimes spelled Doiley or Doyley), a 17th century London merchant who sold cloth and dry goods. Talk about leaving a legacy! That guy’s name became a household word and is still going strong. Initially, doilies were made primarily to protect beautiful wood furniture from scratches.  For the most part, their size determined their use.

At that time custom decreed the service-plate doily be exactly twelve inches in diameter.  That was also a popular size for small centerpieces. … For those times when tablecloths were not used, doilies were made to be used under each piece of the place setting.  The correct size for the bread and butter plate doily was eight inches. … Three doilies, for the frappe’, bullion, and finger bowl, were all the same size – seven inches.  The correct size for the water set doilies was ten inches for the pitcher and five inches for each tumbler.  Carafe doilies could be either nine or eleven inches depending on the size of the base.  The doily for the oblong celery tray was supposed to be nine-by-fifteen inches while the one for the bread tray was made eleven-by-sixteen inches.  When a doily was made for the bonbon tray it always measured nine-by-twelve inches.  The olive dish, usually made of cut glass (if one could afford it), was ten inches in diameter.  …
~Frances Johnson in Collecting Antique Linens, Lace & Needlework

Did you get all that?

I found it interesting that Johnson went on to say that when doilies were not being used in their intended “service” role on the table, it was suggested they be placed on the shelves of china cabinets and cupboards to better show off the china and glass stored there.  Hmmm… I think Blogland already got that memo, don’t you?

My own history with doilies began the day I was born.  Rare are the memories of my maternal grandmother when she did NOT have a crochet project going … and quite often it was a doily. (I shared her crocheted snowflakes with you last Winter.)  I have several beautiful doilies and a tablecloth that she made … and I use them.

But for many people I know, this was more common …

Over the past few years, I’ve been very happy to see the resurgence of the crochet doily. (Cue music.)

Well, well Hello, Doily,
Well, Hello, Doily,
It’s so nice to have you back where you belong.
You’re looking swell, Doily,
We can tell, Doily,
You’re still glowin’, you’re still crowin’
You’re still goin’ strong.
While the sweet little piece of history is still used by many of us in the “old-fashioned” way, there are some fabulous new-fangled ideas circulating.  Have you seen these?

What about you?  Have you done — or seen — any great doily projects lately?

I’ll be joining Metamorphosis Monday at Between Naps on the Porch and
Mosaic Monday at Little Red House



  1. Fun and informative post…I have some in a box somewhere that were made for me years ago, I need to get them out!

    I thought of you today in our pastor’s sermon, I will send you a link to it when it is up…it goes with one of your past post!

    Fun, fun post…enjoyed!

  2. I just draped a doily over my own nightstand lamp. I love it! Wasn’t sure what to do with her, but she’s gorgeous there. I’m working on “The Love Lamps” which I’ll share on my blog as soon as I’m finished with them! It’s been fun! The doily just added a special touch of femininity.

    And I love my DIBBLE doily– a doily Twila Zink of Perryton, Texas made for me for $5 each initial back in 2002. You know– it’s a doily that spells a word or name. I wish I could find someone to make me some more of those! I would hire her in a minute! I just made myself a new pillow the other day and stitched the DIBBLE doily to the pillow. It’s precious!

    Your cupid dish filled with doilies is spectacular!

    • Kelley, your nightstand lamp doily sounds pretty — and I know just the kind of doilies you’re talking about with the letters, too. I wonder if anyone sells those on Etsy?

      As I said in my post, I’m downsizing… and I’m going to sell that gorgeous cupid dish. If you’re interested in knowing more, send me an email.

  3. I make a TON of them!! I use them under vases and under some of my Christmas decorations… Making them is kinda like therapy for me 🙂 I use all different colors.

  4. These are wonderful doilies. Had no idea about the history of the name. My grandmother crocheted many gorgeous doilies, scarves and tablecloths.

  5. Wonderful doilies. Great post. Have a great week.

  6. First I’ve ever read about the history of doilies! Yours are beautiful! My grandmother crocheted and always kept some laying out too. I loved having my hair combed in front of the dresser and playing with the doilies in front of me. Funny how you don’t think of these things until someone triggers your memory. I’ve noticed a big surge of crochet becoming popular again. At Christmas my teenage nieces had pieces they were working on.
    Have a great day!

  7. I am just seeing this post. I almost missed it when I started to click to the newer one.
    Now, I have a powerful hankering to go to my mom’s house and dig through her vintage linen trunk. I know there are doilies in there that she’s not using. My grandmother ALWAYS had doilies out. I honestly am not in the habit. Now, I want to be.