Hot! The “Dynamic Doilies” Skirt

The Facts

  • Fabric: made-by-me teal dress that just…didn’t…work; thrifted doilies
  • Pattern: none
  • Year: 1930-1980 meets 2012
  • Notions: thread, shortened invisible zipper from dress
  • Time to complete: 5 hours
  • First worn: July 8, 2012
  • Wear again?: Yes
  • Total price: <$10

Take one dress that was a little too big and had sleeves that fell at just the wrong place… (Give me a break here, ladies–it was only the second or third dress I ever made.)

Cut off the top, fold the midriff down to make a waistband (add interfacing for structure), cut a few inches off the hem. Add a bunch of old doilies dyed various shades of teal (different fiber content in the doilies accounts for the different shades).

And voila!

Great for those who love hand sewing and reclaiming the forgotten and discarded handwork of generations of women.

While thinking about a place to take photos, my husband and I realized REO Town (pronounced Ree-o Town) would be perfect. Mostly just because the sign has gears and my doilies sort of look like gears.

This sign marks the spot that R. E. Olds began producing automobiles. It was Ransom E. Olds (not Henry Ford) who is credited with producing the first car using an assembly line, the Oldsmobile Curved Dash in 1901. Henry Ford rightly gets the credit for streamlining and perfecting the assembly line process at the Ford Motor Company in Dearborn, Michigan, which would help to make Detroit the world leader in car production, but it all truly began in the state capital of Lansing. You’re welcome, world.  ;)


Erin Bartels

Erin is a copywriter by day, a novelist by night, and a wife, mother, dressmaker, quilter, zoo docent, painter, poet, and photographer in between. She only gets paid for the copywriting.


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  1. What a brilliant idea to use the doilies! I was thinking of doing something similar with scraps of lace but couldn’t quite figure it out. This is inspiring!

  2. This looks great! I have inherited a stash of lace, including doilies- I might try something similar…

    • Sometimes dying and repurposing is really the best answer to things like this. Otherwise, wouldn’t everything just stay tucked away in boxes and cupboards? Bring the doilies into the light! :D

  3. So fabulous! I may have to copy this idea, there are so many delightful old doilies pining away at a thrift store local to me.

  4. Fantastic skirt! I love that you saved your me-made dress and you’ve inspired me with a use for doilies. I only have one, though.

    • I was really happy to finally have a use for it. I loved the color and the fabric so much. Try thrift shops, garage sales, and old ladies at church for doilies. They usually have a ton and most of the time you can find them cheap or free.

  5. Love your skirt. The doilies was a great idea.. Happy sewing.

  6. My Nana gave me a whole pile of vintage doilies aaages ago. I think she thought I would use them on my furniture but that’s not my thing. Still I couldn’t bear to part with them, they are so pretty. Now I know what to do! Great idea xx

    • Glad I could help inspire a use for them. There are so many pretty things in this world that just don’t work in most modern women’s decor. Why not wear them instead?!

  7. That skirt’s much better Erin. Nice upcycle. The doilies look great. I have a stash of embroidered doilies with crocheted edges that I am saving up for a special project. I have seen them made in to a bias cut dress which looked amazing on the supermodelesque beauty I saw it on! Maybe I could do a blouse of some kind!

    • I’d love to see something made entirely of doilies. I had thought to do that, but I just didn’t have enough. I’ll keep acquiring them, though, and someday do a dress. :)

  8. I think the dress is pretty but the skirt plus doilies is really beautiful! Much better!

  9. WOW! I never thought to use those things to embellis! it looks very pretty!!!

  10. It’s so pretty, and looks absolutely fabulous on you. Great skirt!

  11. That is genius! I love the way that came out. The skirt is a very pretty color and I think you placed the doilies in all the right places. Thanks for the idea-I may use it sometime. Love it!

    • I had some help with placement from a friend who sews and crochets. I actually left some off that I had dyed. She was right that less was better.

  12. Oh I love a doilie Erin, I’ve made collars from them, your skirt is fantastic and a perfect photo opportunity in front of the Reotown sign. Well done, gosh that colour looks great on you.

  13. Wow, cool photos, I just love the color of the skirt. Teal is a great color for you.

  14. Wow! very inspiring!! I totally loved the idea of the doilies and what a rescue of the dress, which in my opinion looked great too!

  15. Love this skirt – what a wonderful refashion. The length looks great on your legs. And my eldest saw your pics and now wants me to make her one as she thinks the doilies look like steampunk cogs.

  16. OMG! When I was brain storming for ideas, one idea I came up with was to make a denim skirt and crochet a few doilies to sew on as embellisments. It would have looked very similar to yours. Your skirt is lovely.

    Thanks for the history facts,I come from a line of autoworkers and did not know that. However the first Ford Plant was on Mack Ave. in Detroit, he later built the largest production plant in Dearborn, MI

  17. Lovely Erin! I adore a good upcycle and this certainly doesn’t disappoint. I love doilies and have wondered how to use and display them. THey usually just end up in a drawer. You’ve given us a great idea.

    • Such a shame, isn’t it, when you can tell they would have taken forever to make! I’ve seen them on decorator pillows too, and mean to try that sometime.

  18. Nice work! The dye-job and placement of the doilies is perfect!

  19. I love the placement of the doilies, what a good idea! The skirt is beautiful.

  20. I am in love with this idea. I knew I should have bought those doilies at that garage sale over the weekend. Fantastic job Erin!

  21. Very cool. Did you see the doily wedding dress circulating pinterest lately? Someone stitched together a bajillion doilies to get married in, the result is quite cool… I LOVE your re-fashion!

  22. ah-ha, there it is… :) It’s older than I thought, but still cool…