How to Starch a Doily with Huge Ruffles

Remember the stiff crochet doilies our grandmothers used to make? The ones that they starched and formed the fluffy and decorative edges.


Well I found a second hand store where I was able to find several crochet doilies, but the edges are flat. Does anyone know how the edges were formed. I know that they were dipped in a starch and water solution, but beyond that I am not sure.

Please let me know if you have any information. I would love to put these under my Tiffany inspired lamps.
Thank you and have a wonderful holiday season.

By Linda from NYC

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Back in the good old days, we would use sugar starch for ruffled doilies:

1/4 cup water

3/4 cup sugar

Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly until mixture is clear, hot, and all sugar is dissolved, but do not bring to a boil. Remove from heat, let stand until cool enough to handle.

Place a towel on a table, dip the doily in the starch, wring out the excess. Stretch the ruffle with your hands so it fans out as much as possible. You should also stretch the part of the doily a little that is supposed to lay flat. Lay the doily on the towel and smooth out the flat part. We would place loosely wadded pieces of waxed paper under the ruffles to prop them up. Make sure the ruffles are even. When it is just the way you want it, leave it until completely dry, then remove the waxed paper, of course.

Be forewarned that starch, whether it be regular or sugar starch, shortens the life of crochet items. Also, when you stretch, don't get too rambunctious about it, you don't want to break the thread.

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Some doilies aren't meant to have the ruffled edges. My late Aunt used to make a lot of them, and she just plain used the liquid starch full strength, an then ironed them. I don't know if she ironed them when they were wet or after they dried. I don't think the ruffles will form with just a stiffening solution, I think it will take the ironing to form the ruffle.

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Years ago (1950s) we used to solve this problem by making up a strong solution of hot Argo Starch and then immersing the freshly washed and rinsed doily into the starch solution. Then we'd wring the excess starch out of the doily and place it on a flat surface. Then, here's the surprise, we'd use empty CoCa Cola bottles or some other similarly shaped containers around the outer part of the doily and form the ruffles over the bottles. The center was left flat. When dry, the bottles were removed and the ruffle was ready to grace my mother's favorite lamp as it sat on a table in front of our living room picture window. Hope this helps!

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Crafts AdviceNovember 15, 2010
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