Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Hand Sewn Doily

Beautiful Summers Day 

Today I am going to show how to make one of these easy round doilies. They are useful for protecting furniture from sun-stains or scrapes or just anything that occurs when you have a lamp or hard object on a table. They absorb water if you have a little vase of fresh flowers. 

Above is one made from muslin and gathered lace.

The Victorians insisted on using crochet and tatting, and various types of cloths to protect their furniture. Until recently, women used pieces on the sofa and chairs in the living room, to protect the head area and the arms, where it would become the most worn or soiled. It is partly due to this extreme care, that so much of the furniture of that era is still so beautiful and durable. I have a few small tables from that era, that have barely a mark on them, because they protected with women's lovingly hand made place mats and doilies.

You will notice in the previous post, that I still have one of those crocheted pieces from the 1940's, on the back of  sofa chair in the back ground. These little things you are making are a quicker way to provide protection and beauty to your furniture. Try them in different fabrics, such as tapestry, to give an old-world feeling, or even that sparkly butterfly fabric from the fabric store, for a country cottage appeal. 

As in previous projects, be sure to press the fabric with a hot, steam iron. You will need all cotton for this project.  You can use muslin or anything else from clothing, sheets, and even dishtowels, if they have no "nap."  A nap is anything that sticks out in a fuzzy way, such as terry cloth or velvet or corduroy. I am working with no-nap fabrics, meaning, they are smooth and flat. 

You can make this any size you want, depending upon the size plate or bowl you use to trace around. I used a glass plate so that I could make sure that one of the brightest roses was in the middle of the doily. In this case, you do not have to turn the fabric over and mark it on the "wrong" or more faded side. It works better to mark it on the right side.

Then, cut out around your pencil marks, and iron the edges in toward the wrong side, one- fourth inch. If your circle is really large, you can iron again one-fourth inch. Since mine is just small, I will only be able to crease it one time.

 Now thread your needle and make a knot. Put the first stitch under the hem, to hide the knot, and take a few stitches in the same place over and over to secure it. Then stitch around the hem, as you see here. Fasten off. If you are unsure of things like threading and knotting a needle, running stitch, over cast stitch, fastening off, etc. you can find instructions on the web. However, it is better to get someone to show up up-close and personal.

After you have stitched it, press your stitching. Then, turn it over and press again firmly on the other side.

Your project can be completed right now, if you like, and you can use it somewhere in your house...

...however, I am going to add some lace. To get the right length of lace, just leave it on the roll or hank, and stitch it around until you meet the beginning. Then, continue stitching and sew the two end pieces together so that you can't tell where the beginning or end is. I always like to match up the floral design and then cut it.

 In a future post, I will show you how to embroidery a piece like this, using matching embroidery threads. Since the colors will already be stamped on the fabric, all you have to do is use a satin stitch and co-ordinate the threads to the rose parts.

Here is what mine looks like so far. It is not necessary to do any of these things, but it helps you learn and it leaves some pretty evidence behind. Someday you will be able to show some little girl the things you did when you were young. In future posts, I will show you how to make a matching box to store these things in.

Remember, you can click on the pictures twice  to get larger details.

It is not all indoor activity around here. Sometimes I fly a kite,

..and yesterday I renovated an old metal tricycle that no one wanted. The basket came from a junk store and is tied on with pink wired ribbon...

...and found another treasure, which I traded for something I made.  It looks old, and it has a heavier base than the modern lamps, so it does not knock over as easily.

Future easy projects: handkerchiefs, stuffed pig, pillow, pillow case, wall hanging, garden flag, yo-yo quilting project, doll, apron, girl's skirt, scarf, place mat, purse, tea towel, fabric toys, and more.

Note: these projects are for beginners, and those who may feel a bit awkward with a needle at first. I used three threads in the needle, which has a large eye, to stitch the rose. I prefer the larger needles when showing someone who has never used one before, but if you want to advance, just reduce your needle size and use less thread. I am not trying to be perfect in these projects, because I want it to be easy for people who want to learn quickly and easily.  I do not intend for any of this to look professional.


Anonymous said...

Oh, this is lovely, Lydia!

Anonymous said...

My 7-year old granddaughter wants to sew a doll with me. She has been talking about it for weeks. I have some ideas and am looking forward to seeing what you come up with.

Anonymous said...

I love the way you've used a clear plate to help you do what we call in the quilting groups as "fussy cutting".

We often use a template with a window cut out of the center to place it over a piece of print fabric in order to find and center a print before we trace around the template and cut out the pattern. Whole quilts have been done using this method.

I love the fabric you've chose, so feminine. Thanks for sharing.

Gail said...

Lydia that lamp is a "relative" of milk glass lamps my mother got around 1962. I have a bedroom lamp from the same time. Love milk glass.

Anonymous said...


Using an existing fabric print as an embroidery template is a stroke of genius!! All a person needs to know are the stitch techniques and everything else is laid out - the colour, the shading, the design... This is a wonderful idea!

I am blesed to have collected an assortment of handcrafted items like these over my travels; as a curious aside, the Dutch use gorgeous little 'persian rugs' as furnishing protectors, even table cloths; I have a darling little one that needs a couple of companions for one of the chairs here...

Lydia said...

would enjoy seeing those little rugs!

If the embroider is being done by a beginner, a young girl, it might work better to choose a bit of fabric with a brighter, bolder print. I enjoyed the corals in this one and am looking forward to embroidering the shades of greens.

Anonymous said...

LOVE the pink tricycle!!!! Adorable! It made me laugh with delight!
And embroidering the fabric terrific!

Anonymous said...


here is a link to 'The Dutch Shop' where I purchased my little rug nearly 20 years ago now; it is still going strong, and they still sell them...

Take a look at their table-rugs (many sizes) as i do not have an opportunity to get a photo of mine for you.

I do like them very much. I think you will find many other wares on this site of interest, either to purchase or as inspiration to make your own.

Anonymous said...

I love the idea of embrodering over the flowers! It gives the project an even more handmade feel and more demention. I will do that on robes and nightgowns I make and such now too. I have seen many things made using the pretty floral hankies too. They make very pretty pockets on your aprons too. I have seen them centered in the middle of a pillow top and so many other uses for such pretty things and even put under glass and used as pictures. I use mine for their intended purpose mostly! You have rekindled my imagination to work on more projects to pretty up our home. Thankyou again Lady Lydia!! Sarah

Anonymous said...

These are very pretty. My girls were not allowed to say they were bored, because they could always knit, or sew or paint. I would like to see some crafts that use a yard of fabric. Love the table runner and doily. It is something I can quickly make in sets for a community orgainization in either Thanksgiving and/or Christmas prints.

Lydia said...

These projects, though not perfect stitching, give quick and easy things that a beginner can complete and still having something pretty. Remember to look up stitch instructions. The stitched flower is perfect to practice your stitches on. It does not have to be perfect! The point is to enjoy the project and experiment with different kinds of threads and stitches.

Anonymous said...

You say you did not intend for these things to look professional, but to me, they do! They are very pretty. I am a little more experienced at sewing but I like the idea of embroidering the flowers on fabric a lot. That is a great idea!

I'm also glad you shared the bicycle idea. It is adorable.

Anonymous said...

I love these posts. This week I bought a half dozen old Ponds Jars for keeping small items in. They are all milk glass and the day after I bought them and was wondering what they were made from my current issue of MaryJane's Farm magazine came with an article about collecting milk glass. Today's Jars of Ponds Cold Cream are huge compared to yesteryears. I am sanding a tricycle thats over 50 years old for my son. It even has real rubber wheels. Much nicer than the modern tricycles, too and free. There is a book out now that is about using only a yard of Fabric. It's called "One-Yard Wonders" 101 sewing projects. I love mine. Most of it is home projects, with some toys, and kids clothes thrown in. There is a nice section on bags and hand-bags too. The only thing is all the cloths for grown-women are not very modest, except of course for the aprons and smocks meant to protect your clothing. I would still buy it for everything else though well-worth the $25.

Anonymous said...

Dear Lydia,

What a wonderful idea to use beautiful fabric to make doilies and table runners! I can crochet these things,given enough time. However, sometimes having zillions of crocheted items (as is the case in my own home - eek!) is just, well... too much. A mix of crochet and fabric would seem to give a better balance, decorating-wise (if that makes any sense).

Recently I received a crochet/needlework catalog which featured a pattern for a crocheted tea set - complete with cups, spoons and fake cake. This, I feel, is taking crochet where it was not meant to go. No offense to anyone who may, at this moment, be crocheting a German chocolate cake.

A mixture of craft media (crochet, sewing, quilting, paper and scrounged items lovingly painted, etc.) is probably the most aesthetically pleasing when decorating the home.

Thank you for continuing to publish your craft tutorials. I appreciate having such a valuable resource for low-cost decorating ideas.

Kind regards from,

Susan T.

Lydia said...

Re--one yard sewing: I work better with half yard sewing, but I am finishing a one yard project to show. I saw the book you mentioned, and thought it was a great idea but there were too many immodest tops and things that could have been left out. I think you can make a lot of one yard things that will be loved and used many years from now and not be faddish. Among them are: pillowcase, pillow, cushion, apron, table cloth, window valance or curtain, table topper, sheet for baby crib, door draft stopper, plastic bag holder, protective sleeves to match apron, purse or bag, Bible carrier, basket liner, quilt squares, and for some people, one yard is enough for a blouse.

Susan, yes, a mix is very nice. I suppose if you love a certain kind of material or yarn, there would naturally be more projects of that sort, in your home.

I am mainly doing this series for a lady in Italy who emailed me with a request to show simple projects for women who had never sewn. Some people have written me to say it looks less than professional, but in an effort not to make the new learner absolutely miserable and stressed out while trying to get everything perfect, I am making it more relaxed, fast, and easy. None of these things shown here will last a long, long time, and if you want to keep them, they should be hand washed and hung to dry, instead of using the washer or dryer. They are practice pieces that also have some fun in them. You can use projects like this on vacations or quiet times.

Another lady that I am writing this for has begun a girls home making class, and I wanted to give her a variety of things to choose from, if she wanted to teach sewing. Each girl should take home a project so that she has some kind of success in her first try.

If a beginner can complete a small project, she will not tire of it. These are simple projects which also make it easy on the teacher.

If you know how to do something, it is one thing, but it takes a lot more thought to show someone else how to do it in a way that will not frustrate them and will make them love sewing. I knew girls who never sewed, because of the rude way in which they were taught, or the dull fabrics or dumb project that meant nothing to them. These projects might not always have a use but they are pretty to look at. You can also start a little shop and sell small things like this. There are a lot of possibilities if you sew. You can have just about anything you want, without spending a lot of money. If girls learn to sew their own things, then they can afford a pair of matching shoes when they go on sale for five dollars, and not feel they are over-spending. Sewing is a way to be frugal. Not everyone has to sew or wants to sew, and that is fine, but for those who really want to make their own things because of the greater personal choices they will have, I am providing these small tutorials. If you wish to see more advanced, neater sewing, there are a lot of online instructions to be had.

Anonymous said...

I love the round doilies-I'll be making some of them. I have been buying crocheted doilies at the thrift store and I love them but sewing up a few of my own will be a nice change! Thank you for the ideas!