Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Lace doilies

The round lace mats that we call doilies, are reputed to have been named after a London draper called Mr Doily, Doyley or D’Oyley who had a linen drapers shop in the Strand in London. There is a reference to him in the Spectator magazine of 1712 selling ‘stuff as might at once be cheap and genteel’. Another writer mentions that the draper’s shop existed until 1850. Originally, doily may have been a woollen material, the name being derived from dwaele, the Dutch word for towel. However in the eighteenth century, the usage changed to denote a small piece of fabric known as a ‘doily-napkin’, placed between the dessert plate and the finger bowl at the dining table. In 1854, Miss Leslie, an American writer, described doilies as ‘small napkins intended for wiping the fingers after fruit’. In the twentieth century doilies lost their association with towels and became decorative or used to protect furniture. Doily now seems to be collective term for all types of lace mat regardless of size or the technique used to fashion them and the general public are probably more familiar with paper doilies than textile ones.

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