Why are they called Doilies?

 

Moms_Doily_01

image from Needleandthread.com

Doilies have been around for as many years as most of us know. Lace doilies were used on the back of chairs to protect the chair from the Oil of Macassar that men used on their hair. (They were called anti-macassars in the Victorian period). Their practical use moved into the realm of decoration and women used their needle skills to show how successful they were as wives and mothers (yes, that has always struck me as being very sad). Idle hands were frowned upon so women knitted and crocheted…

But where did the word “doily” come from? According to the BBC’s magazine “Homes and Antiques”, the name originated “from the surname “Doily”, a London firm of linen merchants who made fringed napkins in the 1700’s. From 1711 a doily was a small ornamental napkin used at dessert”. Over the years it evolved into other uses.

Doilies are still useful today. They protect table tops from scratches that occur when moving things around or damage from wet glasses. Many people treat all wood furniture as though it was encased in plastic as so much furniture is made today. Of course anyone who owns antiques knows you can’t do this. I personally like doilies because their typically light colors break up the plain, often dark, surfaces of antique furniture.