Now that crochet is popular again, some of the traditional projects are also popular again. While there is no practical use for doilies, they are great to make and very nice to display with pride. Of course, there was a time when doilies were useful. Back when everything had to be washed by hand doilies could be placed over the spots that were expected to become soiled frequently.
The little doilies were very washable and many of them could be kept on hand to make a clean, attractive area until laundry day. Now that frequently soiled areas are pretty much made of plastic so they can be wiped clean, doilies are simply a pleasant reminder of the bad old days. Still, those lacy little bits are challenging to make and should be displayed with pride. The best way to do that is to stiffen your crochet doilies.
There are many choices of modern stiffeners available. The reason that there is a choice is because there are different needs to meet – believe it or not. Most crochet doilies look best if the stiffener allows the stitches to show clearly. Different types of stiffener offer different finishes and you can choose shiny or matte.
If you want to stay with the traditional techniques, there are many kinds of stiffeners to choose for your crochet doilies. An early recommendation from an old magazine suggests using gelatin dissolved in hot water. It’s a little complicated. More modern solutions include hairspray or spray starch. Either can be washed out easily and reshaped if you like. Always use rust proof pins to hold the shape until the crochet doilies are dry. Be sure to keep them clean while they stiffen. Anything that can stiffen crochet doilies is sticky.
A bit more traditional is liquid or powdered starch. These have the advantage of being adjustable from soft to stiff. You can dissolve either corn starch or Epsom salts in boiling water to soak your crochet doilies before shaping. Remember that if you soak your crochet doilies in any stiffening liquid, the excess liquid has to be removed without twisting the doilies.
You don’t want to stretch or severely wrinkly them just before they assume a semi-permanent shape. A half and half mix of white glue and water is a popular choice. Surprisingly, the stiffener most sworn by is a solution of sugar and water. The look of the crochet shows through, it’s easy to remove and insects aren’t interested. However you stiffen your crochet doilies, display them with pride. You earned it.