DIYdiy projects

diy project: jane’s doily bowl

by Grace Bonney

designer jane schouten’s lace doily bowl was a bit hit during this year’s d*s diy contest– and today jane is sharing her instructions for making your own doily bowl at home. it’s a great way to spend a steamy summer day (when staying inside with your air condition is the only option) and allows for all sorts of personal customization. click here for the full instructions or just click “read more” below. also, you can click here to view jane’s portfolio, here to visit her new online shop packed with vintage finds, and here to view her last diy project, an incredible patchwork chair.

[ps: thanks to domino for posting the d*s scholarship winners on their homepage today!]


-fabric doily
-masking tape
-interesting pieces of paper
-anything else you want to sew on the bowl
-embroidery thread
-a large bowl to use as a template
-paint brush
PAVERPOL (online here) or a similar fabric hardener.

1. “Mend” the doily with masking tape and paper (add tape and paper where you like)

2. Stitch the paper (machine stitching is easiest) and masking tape to the doily

3. Sew on everything else (an extra paper, fabric, etc.) making sure both sides look interesting

4. Add some embroidery and a few buttons.

5. Cover the template bowl with plastic foil to protect it, then lay the doily over it.

6. Apply a layer of Paverpol with the paint brush. Correct the bowl form and let it dry for at least a day.

7. When dry, remove the doily bowl from the template bowl and apply a layer of Paverpol on the inside. Dry again for a few days or until the bowl is hard enough.

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  • i am definitely making some of these. actually they might be a nice addition to the centerpieces for my upcoming nuptials. thank you so much jane, and grace for posting.

  • Cool project – I like the idea of mending with paper and sewing, not so much with the masking tape, though.

  • HOLY SMOKES. I really want to try this – thanks so much for the instructions! I love the idea of threading other various materials into the doily!

  • I don’t remember how she did it, but my grandmother used to make what I called “petrified doilies” by dipping them in something that resembled papier-mache’ glue. As a kid, watching it harden was a fascinating process. ;-D

    She filled them with buds and petals from her flower garden so there were beautiful, aromatic little bowls of flowers in every room – great for combatting the stuffiness of her unairconditioned farmhouse.

    Thanks for the memory! :-)

  • so pretty! christine, i love the idea of using these for centerpieces.

    i don’t know what paverpol is, but could you just use liquid starch? I wonder if that’s what Holly’s grandmother was using?

  • Angela/Holly: I’m sure it was liquid starch. My great-grandmother used it to stiffen lacy cotton crochet doilies in star shapes by the dozen – we still use them every year on the Christmas tree.

  • Stupid question–but why would add paper, tape etc to the doily? Is it to strenghten it somehow? Is it to make it more visually interesting? Is it to hide holes/stains etc in the doily itself?

  • one doesn’t have to add tape and buttons do they? I’d love to make these for my upcoming wedding, as baskets to hand out programs, put candy bags in, etc… but i like the idea of simply the doiley.

    i ordered the paverpol!!

  • It’s not really quite clear to me whether the tape and paper serve a functional purpose or it they’re there as decoration. anyone?

  • the tape and paper are all decorative touches jane chose for hers- you can obviously leave those out if you’d like ;)


  • Question: Does anyone know about paverpol’s ingredient label? I was curious about whether it is foodsafe (wouldn’t a doily bowl look cute full of apples?) and generally non-toxic. I checked the site and didn’t see anything on content.

  • I don’t want to be a wet blanket here, but when I hear “vintage doily”, I don’t want to dip it in glue substances or put masking tape on it, any more than I’d want to set fire to it. Those doilies were likely made by women working by firelight after they had plowed the fields during the day. That makes me want to cherish and protect their work.

    • They sell cheap doilies at most dollar stores. They look pretty and nothing that you would cherish will be ruined.

  • I have to agree with Linda on this one. I believe the vintage doilies should be treasured and not used in crafts. I have spent many hours crocheting doilies and I’ve even crocheted baskets before. But, I would be horrified if one of my Grandmother’s doilies ended up this way.

  • I believe my Grandmother used sugar water. It really siffens the doilies and will wash out. So nothing gets ruined…

  • Why? The paverpol is weather proof…pretty much everything proof. I would think if someone did this to my doily they must really like. It will last MUCH longer this way. AND it can be displayed in many more ways than just tucked under a vase, or worse yet, hidden in a chest for fear of damage. I think this is such a great idea!!! :) Thank you so much, it gives me so many more ideas for my paverpol (which I have been using for 2yrs now) :-)

  • Displaying a cherished item under glass, as in a frame on a wall, or under glass on a table top preserves and protects the fine stitchery and colors from further damage. The examples shown on this website obscure the intricate stitches under the stiffening agent, especially the one that uses crystallized salt. These are interesting craft techniques, and I wouldn’t hesitate to use either of them on something new, like a factory made doily from a foreign manufacturer, but not on my vintage doilies from my mother and grandmother.

  • I think it is a great way to preserve the doilies. It’s a mistake to think anything can be literally “preserved” forever exactly the way it was originally, IMO, and I think that probably most of our grandmothers and great-grandmothers would be happy to see that their beautiful handwork is given modern uses and modern adaptations, rather than preserved as museum pieces. To change it slightly, to re-use it in a different form, is a form of appreciation.

  • This doilie came from a flea market so I have no idea who made it. If I hadn’t bought, it would certainly have been thrown away.
    It was also worn and full of holes – that’s why I mended it with the paper and tape – and stained.

  • Brilliant idea, now I know what to do with those doilies I love from grandmom but don’t like using on my tables.
    PS Grace would it be possible to make the DIY’s downloadable as PDF’s?

  • heather

    if we ever have patterns or things to download i always have those available as pdfs but i’m afraid that the main posts are only in web form right now.



  • this is completely brilliant. totally girly and funky at the same time, i have never heard of the fabric hardener and i’m anxious to try it on all of my vintage fabric remnants i have from various projects… patchwork bowl anyone?

  • The bowl is sweet and so much more beautiful in it’s rescued manner. I personally would not do this to a fine handmade family heirloom but like others mentioned, it’s sad to see the pieces deteriorate or become bug food in a box in the attic.

  • thanks for sharing !

    I have a lot of this stuff laying around, but this is a great project to use them in !

    greetings from belgium

  • Just an update, as I’ve almost finished one of these. Yes the tinfoil does stick a bit but I pried it off while it was semi dry and then replaced it back on the bowl. Also the key – i’ve discovered the hard way – is not to put a lot of the paverpol on. My lace was quite holey so I have bits where the paverol is now a bit visible. I’d go in stages next time – less is more at a time.

  • Liz: you sure can make a lampshade the same way you make the bowl. I’m not sure about using Paverpol with it (haven’t read the label, maybe it’s flammable? or not?), but liquid starch will come a long way as well. ;)

  • I really love this. Thanks so much for sharing!! I have tons of doilies which I buy from op shops and garage sales for next to nothing. I was just lent a paverpol book yesterday. I was just wondering how strong the bowl would be. I wouldn’t think it would be heavy enough for a fruit bowl??

  • I appreciate this idea a lot. Starching the doilies and shaping them does not destroy them. I have a large box of doilies that were made by my aunt and my grandmother and there’s no way I can use them all as they were intended to be used. I want to keep them in the family and I’m trying to find different ways to re-purpose them. They can also be stitched over a contrasting color fabric and made into pillows or quilts.

  • I like this idea for ‘found’ items, not sure if I would use my Grandmother’s lace. I also have a suggestion for mending holes before stiffening. I would use Vilene or WSS, and closest color cotton thread to match lace, and use decorative stitches to ‘mend’ holes. Then wash out WSS, then use stiffener. I’ve also heard that regular starch and sugar water attracts bugs, so if I use either, I hand wash before storing lace items in a cotton pillowcase or home-made cotton bag, that can be embroidered to remind anyone as to what is in the bag. Hope these hints are useful, and many thanks for new ideas.

  • I have seen dollar store dollies that are machine made that can be purchased for a dollar making this a get idea for Easter gift baskets especially for nursing home patients.

  • I like the idea to use the doilies like this, nice way to protect and preserve it. Going to make saome myself