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Delicate Dress-Ups

Delicate Dress-Ups

Give pieces of lace and crochet—from doilies to place mats—a new use with these delightful ideas.

Lived-In Style

Simple, elegant and monochromatic, old-fashioned crochet and lace is at home in modern environments. Let these seven sweet ideas inspire new uses for the airy and artsy fabrics. Trust us, Grandma will be happy to see her doilies that have been stashed away in a drawer put to new use!

DIY crochet wrapped around a glass wine decanter.

DECANT IT. Highlight the fragile webbing and medallion center of a piece of crochet or lace by cinching it around a glass wine decanter. Use strings of thin twine to hold it in place. A crafts-store tag framed in a string shade pull is a pretty flourish.

DIY lampshade wrapped with a table runner featuring connected crochet circles.

BRIGHT IDEA. Cover a lampshade with a table runner featuring connected crochet circles. Straight-sided drum shades work best. Use a small scissors to trim the crochet piece to size. Pierce holes along the top edge of the shade using an awl, then thread cotton twine through the holes to attach the crochet. Use the remaining bits of crochet as coasters or napkin rings.

"It is difficult to see why lace should be so expensive, it is mostly holes." —Victorian author Mary Wilson Little

LIGHT UP. Wrap crochet place mats around glass cylinders (above left) and secure with double-stick tape. Tuck in votive candles elevated on sand or glass floral stones to capture the glow in select areas.

PRETTY UNDER GLASS. Spiff up dresser trays (above right) with fresh pieces of lace framed between the glass. Used to set off pretty perfume bottles on a woman's vanity, they often have broken or missing panes when you find them at flea markets. For a few dollars, you can buy one, then insert a favorite piece of handiwork. Have new glass made to fit at a glass store.

Small doily draped over a glass of water with a slender-stem flower.

IN BLOOM. Draped over a glass of water, a small doily keeps flowers in place. Queen Anne's Lace, a common ditch weed, echoes the airy crochet, but any slender-stem flower would work if you remove the leaves.

Vintage lace and crochet tablecloth covering a vintage side chair.

SHEER AMBITION. Turn an imperfect tablecloth—a thrift-store bargain—into a slipcover for a seldom-used armchair, such as a bedroom side chair. Position any flawed areas to the back or hide imperfections under a throw pillow.

A vintage drying rack with circular doilies.

ARTISTRY ON DISPLAY. A vintage drying rack shows off the airy patterns of circular doilies. No drying rack? Hang them from a window or display them in frames. It's a breathtaking show of the artistry of late-18th and early-19th century women who crocheted doilies to use as pretty (and protective) layers for lamps, vases and centerpiece bowls.

PHOTOS Matthew Mead
WORDS Sarah Egge