Recycle antique hankies and doilies | February 11, 2011 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

Real Estate - February 11, 2011

Recycle antique hankies and doilies

Why let them languish unused in the drawer?

by Kit Davey

Do you have a drawer full of antique handkerchiefs and doilies you don't know what to do with? Don't let your linens gather dust in the closet!

Why not haul out those lacy heirlooms and try a few of these quick and easy projects for your home?

* Frame a small, ornate doily in an old picture frame. The piece will stand out more if you place it against a dark background.

* Recover an old pillow. Stitch two handkerchiefs together and slip the old pillow inside. Embellish with buttons, ribbon and lace. If you have a solid-colored pillow that is still in good shape you can fancy it up by stitching a doily on the pillow face.

* Use a handkerchief as a blanket or sheet on an antique doll bed.

* Insert a large circular doily or a special handkerchief under the glass of a skirted table.

* Set an old jewelry box, cigar box or wooden recipe box on your dresser. Fold a stack of hankies with the best sides facing up and place them so that they peek out of the open box.

* Doilies are ideal "unifiers": A group of objects appears more related or pulled together when placed on one. Try grouping the following objects on top of one of your favorite doilies: a collection of pretty perfume bottles on your bathroom vanity, several black and white or sepia-toned family photos in ornate frames on an end table, a bundle of dried lavender or miniature roses atop a stack of small leather-bound books or a mixture of brass candlestick holders on top of your mantel.

Collections of miniature boxes, porcelain figurines, silver spoons, crystal or thimbles all can be enhanced by careful placement on a starched bit of linen.

* If you have tattered linens you might be able to recycle the parts in good condition as doll clothing. You can also incorporate pieces into a quilt. Handkerchiefs look charming when tied around a stuffed bear's neck, like a bandanna.

* Fill a bowl with potpourri bundles. Place a scoop of potpourri in the center of a hankie and tie with a length of satin ribbon. Add a button or single earring to the bow. Place several in a basket, or put one on your guest-room pillow.

* If your daughter likes to play "tea time," why not let her use several hankies as napkins?

* What's an antimacassar? Your grandmother probably had a dozen of them. They were used to protect chair backs from hair oil and armrests from the oil in one's hands. If you like a cozy, Victorian look, why not place a few of your doilies on the upholstered furniture in your living room?

* Create a saw-tooth valance by draping a few square handkerchiefs at an angle over a curtain rod.

* Neatly fold several fresh towels and place them on the vanity in your guest bathroom. Add one or two handkerchiefs or linen guest towels to the top of the stack. Tie together with a wide satin ribbon. Complete the look by placing a doily under the soap dish.

* Soften a bookcase or étagère ledge by letting the corners of several hankies drape over the ledge. This effect also works well on a mantel, windowsill or on top of the toilet tank.

* Make your own cafe curtains. Stretch a length of ribbon across your guest room or guest bath window. Use antique wooden clothes pins to hang a row of linens or frilly hankies across the opening.

* You can always use your hankies as originally intended!

Kit Davey, Allied Member, ASID, specializes in re-design, staging, design consulting and professional organizing. E-mail her at, call her at 650-367-7370, or visit her website at


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