Heirloom Doily Throw Pillow – Project Notes

When my mom called to ask if I’d like some lace tablecloths and doilies from my great aunt, I was thrilled! The origins of each specific piece are unknown, but some are rumored to have come over from Germany on the boat with my great grandma. Textiles with family history? Count me in!

I’m a big believer that heirlooms don’t do any good shut up in a box in the basement. Not each piece of history needs to be kept, but at least some of the ones that are should be proudly displayed or even made to be functional in a modern sense if possible. I set about deciding what to do with my “new” treasures.

My first thought was to make myself a Christmas tree skirt with one of the tablecloths and a stocking for myself. One of my kids caught me before I cut into the tablecloth, though, and her dismay at me repurposing it caused me to set the lacy fabric aside. I’ll ask her again in a couple of years if she still wants it when she grows up :).

I turned my attention, instead, to the doilies and my Christmas stocking plans. Never having sewn with doilies before, I wanted to try some out on a low risk project first- a simple throw pillow. Hopefully my “Heirloom Pillow” notes will help you tackle some lacy, doily projects of your own!


Project Notes on Heirloom Doily Throw Pillow:

Pattern:

  • 16″ square throw pillow with a covered zipper back (self drafted)
  • Zig zag applique method to attach doilies

Materials:

  • Faux suede remnant from Seattle Recreative
  • Ticking (backing material) from a local antique shop
  • Vintage doilies from my great aunt’s collection

Method:

  • If the doilies are crocheted, tatted, or otherwise stretchy, consider starting with a couple applications of spray starch for stabilization.
  • Once you decide on placement, use spray basing on the backside of each doily and affix to your fabric. This step makes a big difference when it comes to sewing! Since doilies have holes, just make sure to spray baste on a surface you don’t mind getting sticky. I used an old cardboard box.
  • It’s okay for the doilies to overlap if you’d like!
  • Sew the doilies to your fabric using a zig zag stitch. Go slowly, stopping to shift the fabric as necessary around the curves. If you use matching thread, you’ll be amazed at how the zig zag stitches disappear into the doily!
  • I used my open toe foot (that’s what I call it anyway!), so I could clearly see where the needle was going with each stitch. Because these doilies were large, I stitched around the outsides first, then did another round or two of stitching on the inner parts as well. When deciding where to stich the inner rounds, I chose the places that had the most yarn for my stitches to camouflage into.
  • You can see on the backside of the fabric below that I treated the doilies as one whole unit, stitching around all three, then adding more layers to make them extra secure on the pillow.
  • Once I was satisfied that the doilies would be secure on the throw pillow, I added a simple covered zipper on the backside and stuck an insert inside. This vintage ticking from a local antique shop was the perfect finishing touch.
  • Even if you look closely, you can barely see the zig zag stitching I used to attach the doilies. It really was that easy to nicely attach these lacy, stretch, heirlooms!

I’d love to hear if you’ve ever used doilies in your crafting endeavors or if you have an heirloom stash waiting for a purpose like I did!


Together we can find more ways to reclaim fabric
and breathe meaning, joy, and life into our days.


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