Old Lace

Saturday, January 15, 2011
Unashamedly, I love old lace. I am especially drawn to old crocheted edgings and doilies. Maybe because I crochet edgings and doilies and know the work involved in making them. I simply cannot leave them behind when I find them. Recently when I was digging thru my seasonal goodies looking for Valentine’s themed things I found a pink doily that I had stored away last summer. It is a garage sale find. I think I paid .50¢ for it. I rarely am asked more than that for these beauties.

Since I needed to wash and starch this it before it could go on my table I thought I’d share a couple thoughts on the care of old lace.

Old lace must be handled with the greatest of care because it is fragile in nature. Age weakens the threads so even the gentlest agitating while washing can cause a break and I don’t even want to think of the damage that can be done by harsh detergents and bleach. No machine washing. The way I clean them is to use warm, soapy (homemade laundry soap but Dawn dishwashing liquid is also very good for this purpose) water in a wide-mouth canning jar.

Tuck the lace inside the jar and simply turn it around and shake it. Rinse using the same method and clear water.

Do not wring or squeeze the wet lace as you can really stress the threads.

Instead lay flat on a towel and roll it up. Gently squeeze the roll. Unroll and allow to dry flat. When almost dry press with a warm iron remembering to put a piece of muslin between the iron and the lace.

Some crocheted pieces really need starching or stiffening so the items will hold shape. There are many recipes for “stiffeners” including some using glue, sugar, flour and shellac. Avoid those. I use old-fashioned laundry starch. Although I have heard of people using spray starch, I don’t see how you can get the same penetration of starch in the threads. You can buy laundry starch in both powdered or liquid form although I have to say that the powdered starch is getting harder to find. Too bad because it really is the best product. Some day I need to do a post on all the wonderful products you used to be able to buy and now cannot. I starch between hard and medium, which gives the doily nice body but doesn't feel like it is too rigid. Using liquid starch, that is a solution of 1/3 starch and 2/3 water. Use the same method as above for wringing out and drying but use rust-proof pins to block your doily into shape.

Stop by again this next week to see what my plan is for these beauties!

Sharing at Beverly's Pink Saturday, Laurie's Favorite Things , Marty's Tabletop Tuesday and Lady Katherine's Tea Time Tuesday. Please visit these inspiring ladies and their lovely blogs.