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Beyond the T-shirt

Doily Quilts - What You Need to Know

February 10th, 2020

By Andrea Funk

Doilies used to make a quilt.

A Brief History of the Doily

quilt made with doiliesThe historical use of doilies and our cultural changes in grooming habits has a shared history. During the Victorian era, homes were being decorated with more stuffed furniture and decorative wooden tables. During this time period, our methods of cleaning were much different than they are today. This was in the time before vacuum cleaners.

During this same era, our cultural norm on personal hygiene was also very different. This was the time of the once a week (at best) bath. Today, very few of us have gone an entire week without a bath. And if you have gone that long, you know what a week’s worth of B.O. smells like and what your hair feels like.

So, you are a young man and you are going courting and want to look your best. What do you do? You wash you face and hands and use a product called Macassar Oil for your hair. This popular grooming product would keep your hair in place. Slicked back!

Hair jell on the back of a couchRemember that Eddy Murphy movie “Coming to America”? In the movie, the boyfriend and his family made a hair product called Soul Gel. When they visited, they left oil spots on the back of the couch. This is what Macassar Oil did to couches and chairs during the Victorian era. There wasn’t a cleaning solution to the Macassar Oil problem.

The solution? The antimacassar, AKA the doily. Doilies were draped on the back and arms of fabric chairs and couches to protect the furniture from oils and dirt. The doily could either be laundered or replaced and the furniture kept clean.

Doilies also were used to protect wood furniture from being nicked and scrapped from vases or other nick knacks. Doilies are typically crocheted in round patterns. They are a take off of crocheted lace – which was used to keep clothing clean from bodily oils. Today you are more likely to see paper doilies used in the presentation of cookies or other desserts.

About This Quilt

quilt made from doiliesOur Too Cool T-shirt Quilt's® seamstress Dana Morales, who works in the Charlotte, Michigan location, made this doily quilt. Dana inherited doilies from her grandmothers, mother, in-laws and aunts. These important women in Dana’s life made many of the doilies that are in this quilt. Each doily has its own story and if you point to a particular doily, Dana can tell you the story.

Dana plans on displaying the quilt on her bed and using it for napping. The quilt will be passed down to one of her two sons or to a future grandchild.

By sharing the stories of the women who made the doilies in this quilt with her sons and grandchildren, she will be keeping her family history alive for future generations.

A quilt can do that.


Why A Too Cool® Style Quilt Works So Well With Doilies

Doilies don’t come in just one size! There are large ones, small ones and every size in between. Thus, a quilt that can be made from many different size blocks works perfectly.

In this quilt, Dana used all white blocks for the background of each doily. She began by measuring each doily and determining what size backing-block it needed. Then she sewed each doily to the backing-block. And from there, it was made just like any of our other T-shirt quilts.

Another option would have been to choose a different colored backing-block for each doily. That would have made a much different quilt. With the white backing, the quilt has a classic older feeling. If there were different colored blocks behind the doilies, the quilt would have had a much more modern feel to it.

How to Have a Doily Quilt Made

We are happy to make a quilt for you from your doily collection.  Here's what you need to do:

  • Please wash and iron your doilies before you send them to us. 
  • Let us know what color palette you would like for the background of the doilies.
  • Then follow the directions for having a T-shirt quilt made. Here's how...

The cost doily quilt is the same cost of a T-shirt quilt of that size. There is an additional small fee per block to cover the extra work to sew each doilies onto the background material.

To get started with us making your doiley quilt, click here to link to the direction page.

The quilt below was made with wool skirts and 5 very important doilies. 


Andrea Funk

Andrea Funk is the inventor of T-shirt quilts made with multiple blocks sizes. The modern method of making T-shirt quilts. In 1992 she founded Too Cool T-shirt Quilts. Her life has been immersed in T-shirt quilts ever since.