Starching Doilies

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In past years doilies were often starched to best display some of their lovely ruffled edges or to create bowl shapes. This is a page about starching doilies.


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November 15, 2010

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.



January 2, 20114 found this helpful
Best Answer

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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ThriftyFun is one of the longest running frugal living communities on the Internet. These are archives of older discussions.

November 15, 2010

I have a beautiful old doily. It is obviously a treasure, but eventually it began to look grey and needed laundering. I did this very carefully. Now, the problem is that the edge, 3" deep is heavily ruffled. When finished correctly the lamp sits on the center of the doily and the edges stand up, starched, all around to a height of about 2-2.5 inches. I am making starch, but maybe I need to spray it rather than submerge it? Any help would be appreciated.




How to Starch a Doily with Huge Ruffles

I starch mine with heavy liquid starch and using push pins, shape it and pin it to my cutting board over an old towel. To get the ruffles to stand up, stuff them with wadded tissue paper and let dry naturally. I have a doily stretching board that was my mother's, but I don't know if you can buy them anymore. They work in the same way, but you use small nails punched into holes to stretch them. (01/23/2005)

By Jan Speheger

How to Starch a Doily with Huge Ruffles

My grandmother made many fancy doilies that were passed down to me. I washed the doily and then asked my mom how to make it stiff. She instructed me to make a mixture of water and sugar (yes, sugar). Lightly wet the doily with the mixture and shape as desired. Let dry completely. You will be surprised how well this works. (01/24/2005)


By Cynthia

How to Starch a Doily with Huge Ruffles

(sent in by email)
You have to use a heavy starch for the ruffles to hold their shape. Make up a cooked starch, following directions on the box. Immerse the doily in the starch and squeeze the excess out without twisting the doily. Spraying the starch will not make the doily stiff enough. Place it on wax paper, plastic wrap, or foil on a surface it can remain on for hours. I like to use the top of the washer or a plastic serving tray. Pull each ruffle into shape and support it with crumpled foil or wax paper. For tall ruffles you can use soft drink bottles or other containers of a uniform size covered with plastic or foil. After the starch has dried for a few hours, depending on the density of the crochet, check the ruffles and pull them into shape again.

The starch can be washed out, and should be, before the doily is stored. For a more permanent stiffness, you can use Aleene's Fabric Stiffener available at many fabric and craft stores. For the ruffles you probably want to use it full strength. I find that my white crochet snowflakes turn a little yellow after several years with the Stiffener.


Bettie (01/25/2005)

By ThriftyFun

How to Starch a Doily with Huge Ruffles

I read somewhere, some time ago to use ice cream cones, wrapped in foil or what you have to not get them moist for the ruffles. Or if you have time make cones to fit the ruffles needed.

I have to say, this site is very helpful with the things we need. Not long ago I also was looking for starching advice and received lots of help as I had never needed to starch what I was doing. Then I needed starch, got lots of help from people and from scrolling down this page to find more help. Thank you to all who helped in one way or another.

This starching stuff is quite the thing I am learning! Good luck and hope I've helped.

By Adele

How to Starch a Doily with Huge Ruffles

Soak doily in solution of heavy cornstarch and water. It should be the consistency of pudding. Let cool. Squeeze out excess. Lay flat and pin with rustproof pins. Do not pin the ruffles. Just flatten ruffle with your hands. I dry it completely with a fan blowing on my doily. Once completely dry, iron out ruffle, stretching ruffle in a counterclockwise motion. Shape as you go.


You can perk up the ruffle by ironing between each ruffle. (12/12/2007)

By Diane

How to Starch a Doily with Huge Ruffles

I agree w/moonbeam about wrapping cones. My tip is: I save those packing sheets of Styrofoam, cover with wax paper and secure with pins. Whatever I starch, I shape and wait until it's dry. (12/18/2007)

By Keeper

How to Starch a Doily with Huge Ruffles

I use Sta-flo ready made starch. (You can usually find it in the laundry section of the super market in a blue bottle)

I found my doily stretchers on eBay. When I want to do the doilies up I put a freshly laundered one in a bowl with some diluted Sta-flo, I squeeze out any excessive so it's not dripping, then stretch it out on the doily stretcher board and pin it how I want it to look. If my item has large ruffles, I sometimes put rolled up paper or envelopes to hold the ruffles' shape. I let it air dry completely before unpinning. It looks a bit strange, but it works. I hope this helps :-) (03/08/2008)

By Ladyfeathers

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