I’ll have to start with a confession: I don’t like doilies. There, I said it. I’ve never seen the point of them, they remind me of dusty houses and an old lady who used to try and teach me maths when I was at school. And yet! I came across this inspired tutorial from Rachel Denbow on her brilliant blog Smile and Wave which got me thinking about doilies in a new, and much more favourable light. Rachel’s kindly agreed to share her tutorial with us, in which she turns a pile of old doilies into an adorable cushion.
In other DIY news this week, I have taken possession of a huge box of incredible craft materials. My mum’s friend Diana and her own mum had collected these bits and pieces over the years and has so generously donated them to the cause! Just look at some of these treasures, even the boxes are beautiful vintage designs. Now I’m sure there were some doilies in here somewhere…
Smile and Wave’s DIY Doily Cushion
Gather some doilies you picked up at your local flea market, on eBay, or your grandma’s and arrange them like so. You’ll also need two pieces of fabric 1/2″ larger on both sides than your pillow form, a needle, embroidery thread, sewing machine, and scissors. I used a 14″ square pillow form so I knew I needed to cover at least that much territory with my doilies. I made sure I didn’t have many gaps in between by overlapping edges. Once I was happy with my layout…
I spent about an hour and a half total stitching my doilies together by hand. I later realized I could’ve saved some time and just pinned them down to the fabric underneath and sewn them directly onto the fabric with my machine. However, I tend to do things the hard way the first time. To fill in one of the large gaps in between doilies, I cut up a smaller piece and patched it from behind.
Make sure your doilies cover the top piece of fabric and pin down.
It should look like this on the back.
Wrinkles won’t matter so much once the case is on your pillow so don’t spend too much time getting things too smooth. Once your doilies are pinned, trim off the excess doilies. Yes, I cut a doily. A means to an end, folks. Loosely stitch around the edges of your pillow to keep things in place.
Decide if you have enough doilies to cover the back of your pillow. You can repeat this process on the back or find a large enough doily to cover most of it. OR, just stitch a single doily onto the fabric so that it looks nice.
Pin your front and back sides together with right sides facing each other. Starting a little in from the bottom right corner, stitch along the edge until you’re a little in from the bottom left corner. This will give your bottom corners and easy time of things when you turn it right side out. See image below. This is the large doily I found and used to mostly cover the back of the pillow. It has a lovely peacock feather design.
Carefully insert your pillow form [or substitute form with poly-fil stuffing] and hand-stitch the bottom shut.
I attached my doily front at an angle to give it more visual interest and used doilies that were different shades of cream to draw attention to the various patterns involved. I chose yellow for the backing because it allowed the cream to show up nicely but wasn’t stealing the show.
You can always try this DIY with coloured Doilies too, or a different coloured background.
Author: Rohini Wahi
Rohini is a London based freelance journalist and trend forecaster for the design industries. She has worked for Elle Decoration, Living Etc, Houzz and Design Sponge amongst others.
She loves a period drama and keeps a tidy home. Launched in 2007 The Beat That My Heart Skipped focuses on home inspirations, design trends, lifestyle and food – coupled with an insight into Rohini’s work and home life – from key picks at trade shows to styled weekend soirees. To contact Rohini for queries, work for hire or just to say hi drop her a line at email@example.com