Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Dyed Vintage Doily Table Runner

On a recent trip to my visit my folks, my mom pulled out a big bag of doilies. They were yellowed and all had coffee or tea stains, but the loving hands of my grandmothers had made most of them, so my mom couldn't throw them out. She asked if I would like to try to repurpose them. 

You bet I would! I have seen some beautiful repurposed doily creations by crafters and decorators around the blogosphere: added to clothing, pillows, and pieced into table runners. 

Here in the greater Seattle area where I live, we have had one of the rainiest winters on record. I saw an article yesterday that said Seattle has had 3 sunny days since the start of October. THREE. So I shouldn't be surprised that I have been aching to brighten up my house with all the spring colors I can get my hands on. I have even considered painting my dining table white.  

So, naturally, I decided to make a bright, spring table runner with the doilies. I will walk you through the steps of how you can make one for yourself, and give ideas of where to purchase what you need--even the doilies if you don't have heirlooms from your grandmothers. 



Dyes/Dye Kits

These kits are so nice because they come with squirt bottles and gloves. I actually used some of these neon colors on my project, I just didn't leave them to "process" for as long as suggested so the colors would be more pastel.
Find this and other kits here.

Large trays/cookie sheets

Protective Gloves

Squirt bottles/ Mixing bottles

Mix your dyes in squirt bottles according to package directions. If some of your doilies are made of synthetic fibers, add a little vinegar to your dye for color sustainability. 

Lay out your doilies on trays. Large ones can be folded in half to fit.  I recommend taking everything outside. It was raining throughout this project, but I didn't let it stop me!


One color at a time, slowly squirt the dye on layers of the doily designs. This part was super exciting for me. I loved how the color contrasts really made the beautiful designs of my grandmothers' handiwork come to life!
Don't worry about the colors bleeding into each other. That should happen. It will soften up the look of the final product. 

Gently squeeze out excess dye from each doily and place them in individual baggies.  Let them sit for 4-8 hours (depending on how bold you want your colors). 

This was an exciting load of laundry to remove from the dryer!

Remove the doilies from the bags straight into your washing machine. Wash with a little detergent and cold water on a gentle cycle. I threw a couple of old towels in with mine as "padding" for the roughness of the machine's agitator.  Tumble dry on low.  Remove and iron. I used spray starch to stiffen mine up a bit. 


Lay out your doilies and decide how you want to arrange them for your table runner. I ended up not using 2 of mine. They may become pillows in the future. 

Pin and Sew
If you look closely, you can see my straight pins holding together the pieces. 

Use a ziz-zag stitch in coordinating thread to sew the pieces together. It will be virtually invisible in the finished product.  I ironed it one more time after sewing. 

My little dining room feels much more ready for Spring! I smile every time I look in at the happy color and think of my sweet grandmothers and the time they spent making beauty for their homes. I am so grateful these special pieces of art were preserved.