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Collecting Vintage & Antique Doilies
 
Vintage, Handmade & One-Of-A-Kind Linens, Lace & Hankies

INTRODUCTION TO VINTAGE, ANTIQUE & COLLECTIBLE DOILIES

Selections of vintage & collectible doilies may be found on:
Vintage Doilies - p.1        Vintage Doilies - p.2        Vintage Doilies - p.3

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A Sampling Of Hankies

Hankies Medley

Designer & Novelty Hankies

Embroidered Hankies

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Irish Linen Hankies
With Handmade Lace

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Novelty & Holiday Hankies

Vintage State Map Hankies

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vintage antique doily doilies heart   Linens For Your Home

Vintage Towels

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(large doilies & small tablecloths)

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New Monogrammed Pillowcases

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vintage antique doily doilies  heart   Articles About Linens

The Charm Of Vintage Linens

Linen, Queen Of Fabrics

The Wonderful Buttonhole Stitch

  Figural Lace

Elaborate Monograms

Needle Arts

Society Silk Embroidery

Care Of Linens

All About Hemstitch

Care of Long-Fringed Towels

Collecting Vintage Hankies

Collecting Vintage Cocktail Napkins

Collecting Vintage Doilies

Home Decorating With
Vintage Linens & Textiles

Recognizing Marghab Embroidered Linens

How To Make A Vintage Pillow Cover

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vintage antique tambour lace doily
Vintage Doily
Tambour Lace
Pink Embroidered Flower
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3 piece doilies dresser set cutwork lace
3 Vintage Doilies
Dresser Set
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vintage antique figural lace doily
Vintage Figural Filet Crochet Lace Doily
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Beginning With Grandma's Doilies.....

When I see or hear the word "doily" the phrase "Just like Grandma used to make" automatically attaches itself; I can see a pair of twisting hands, a white thread looped around her slender left index finger and a silvery hook flicking in and out.
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vintage antique handmade crochet lace doily
Vintage Handmade
Crochet Lace Doily
A plain ball of cotton thread is being transformed into a perfect larger-than-life snowflake for the home. In Grandma's house a lacy pattern encircled the base of each vase, knick-knack, teapot, etc.; amacassar sets protected every upholstered back or armrest. Her hope chest could have supplied a small hotel.

Contrary to my personal opinion, my Grandma wasn't that unique. Women the world over have poured their creative talents into needle art, and the most versatile and fun pieces are doilies.
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vintage antique bedroom doilies set
Vintage Bedroom Set
Dresser Scarf, Doilies, Pillow Cover
Arts & Crafts Shading
Handmade Crochet Lace
Embroidery

Originally doilies performed useful functions, protecting fine finishes from scratches or dampness, protecting fine textiles from natural body oils, protecting bread or rolls from cold air and insects. Decorative value was secondary. Today we appreciate doilies as little works of art.

Doilies range in size from a 2 1/2" coaster to an 18" to 20" sofa-back amacassar doily. Round, square and rectangular doilies abound; irregular, asymetric and figural shapes keep things interesting. Almost any handmade doily you find will be vintage. Our lifestyles, TVs and computers have replaced needlework in the rocking chair by the fireside.

Choosing Your Vintage Doilies

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vintage antique handmade Hardanger lace doily
Vintage Doily
Handmade Hardanger Lace
When choosing a vintage doily, your first consideration should be how it will fit in with your decor, the style of your home and the placement you have planned for it. Next consider the overall "look" of the piece. It should have pleasing proportions and design. In general, the degree of intricacy, delicacy and time-consuming techniques determine the desireability (and usually, but not always, the price) of the doily.

Examine the doily's workmanship closely, with a magnifying glass, if you like; the stitches should be precise and crisp. Avoid a fuzzy effect; it is not only less appealing but also less likely to withstand even careful use and laundering.

Check the condition just as carefully. A vintage and handmade doily may be expected to show some variations and wear; but the fine line between "normal wear" and damage must be decided in each individual case. Only if you are truely in love with an exceptional doily should you tolerate any real damage.

Basic Elements of Vintage Doilies

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vintage antique petit point rose doily
Vintage Doily
Metallic Lace
Petit Point Rose
There are four basic elements of doilies: fabric, lace, applique and embroidery; many doilies combine two or even all four. Fabric is a woven piece of material, the most commonly used in doily-making is linen, because of its superior durability and attractive texture. Lace is decoration achieved by threads, textures and open areas forming patterns; figural lace is lace that shows figures, such as cherubs, birds, etc. Applique is made by cutting designs from a contrasting fabric and applying them onto the basic doily; occasionally embroidered designs may be appliqued. Embroidery is designs made by sewing over fabric or lace; often with colored flosses and fancy three-dimensional stitches.

Lace Doilies

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vintage antique Limerick lace doily
Vintage Doily
Limerick Lace
Embroidered Net
I consider lace doilies to be those made entirely of lace. Purists insist that handmade lace is more desireable than machine-made and that dates, places of origin and names matter. There are some very good illustrated lace books and online articles, if you are interested in an in-depth lace study. If you are interested in the decorative aspects of lace doilies, simply choose the style that fits your decor and individual taste and base your purchases on quality of workmanship.

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vintage handmade crochet lace and linen doily
Vintage Doily
White Linen Center
Handmade Crochet Lace
The most readily available of all vintage doilies are crochet lace, including plain, filet, Irish, Cluny, Vietnamese crochet and many other variations. These are the types made by our grandmothers.
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vintage antique figural lace doily
Vintage Doily
Figural Lace
They will create a cozy, old fashioned ambiance in any room of your home at a very reasonable price. Some figural crochet doilies are even suitable for a boy's room or Dad's den.

Lace that is created by embroidery or applique on net, such as Tambour, Brussels or Limerick lace will enhance feminine areas, such as the bedroom.

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vintage antique figural Carrickmacross lace doily
Vintage Doily
Figural Carrickmacross Lace
Figural lace doilies, by any lace-making technique, come in two designs. Those with a plain center and a figural lace border are to be used like most other doilies, to underline and border a decorative piece. Others are not designed to underline; but to be appreciated in their entirety. They will be best displayed on chairbacks or arms, pillow fronts, framed, or as the "showing" parts of a collection. They add an extra touch of interest to your decor.

Embroidered & Appliqued Doilies

In general, more colorful and bolder design doilies fit in with less formal living styles. Vivid, hand-printed, shaded cotton appliques come from the back-to-basics arts and crafts era. Thick, brightly colored wool or cotton embroidery is associated with folk art.

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vintage antique pair whitework doilies
Vintage Doilies Pair
Classic Whitework
Filet, Cutwork & Eyelet Lace
Satin Stitch Embroidery
The all-time classic doily...white embroidery on white linen, called whitework or white-on-white, complements any style.

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vintage antique organdy applique doily
Vintage Oval Doily
Pink Organdy Applique
Sheer organdy applique creates a more feminine effect.

Silk embroidery flosses add a soft glow and are used in especially fine embroidery, society silk doilies and many of the best oriental items. Silk embroidery is mostly used on smaller pieces and those that will receive gentle use and TLC.

The more desireable embroidery found on doilies incorporates some buttonhole, satin, 3-D padded satin stitches, French knots and Madeira seed dots.

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vintage antique doily doilies society silk embroidery
Society Silk Embroidery
There are two special embroidered doilies styles that you will wish to examine: society silk and Marghab. Both display the most exquisite needle art ever performed. Although these may be a bit expensive for the beginning collector, you should look carefully at the workmanship. Once your eye becomes familiar with these, you will be equipped to judge the quality of embroidered doilies.
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pair vintage antique white linen and Schiffli lace doilies
Pair Vintage Doilies
White Linen
Deep Schiffli Lace

Your Vintage Doily Collection

These are only the basics and these are only a few examples of vintage doilies; the variations are endless; but you get the idea. Choose the doily to suit the situation, and you can't go wrong.

You may wish to further explore a few of the terms used here to describe vintage doilies. In the Articles About Linens box to the left you will find articles about: Linen, Marghab, Society Silk, Buttonhole Stitch, Figural Lace, Etc. There are more in-depth books and internet articles than I can possibly mention. You should be able to pursue any detail that interests you. Collecting doilies can be a never-ending fascination and the more you know, the more interesting your collection will become.

The doilies described above are just a few of those displayed at Hearts-Desires. Doilies illustrating this article are available at the time of writing.

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pair Irish linen damask vintage doilies
Pair Vintage Doilies
Irish Linen Damask
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vintage antique figural lace doily
Vintage Oval Doily
Hungarian Buzak
Figural Lace
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Set of 3
Vintage Linen
Leaf-Shaped Doilies
Lace Edge
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Updated 02/25/2016