Making your own lace tablecloths and doilies is an age old tradition. Often these heirlooms are passed from generation to generation, and are a source of pride when displayed in the home. Modern times make creating your own unnecessary, but the handmade aspect of such a treasure will add value and history when you've created it yourself.
Determine the size of the area you want to cover. If making a tablecloth measure the table itself and allow for 10 to 20 inches of additional drop on all sides according to your preference. Doilies can be sized to your liking or to fit a specific area.
Find a pattern, create one of your own, or use a pre-existing piece as a guide. You can look at flea markets, garage sales or fabric shops that specialize in these type of projects for a pattern or use a favorite piece you have as a guide. Take sections of newspaper or roll paper and make a paper version of your tablecloth by cutting it to fit either the piece you already have or the table you wish to cover. This will be your pattern.
Choose your materials. Lace comes in many patterns and styles; some are more delicate and some have specific themes such as stars or flowers or even animals. Decide if your entire piece will be lace or perhaps have a linen center with lace edging. Spend time at your fabric outlet choosing your materials. Purchase enough lace to make the project, with a margin for error. If you have a pattern it will tell you exactly how much you need; if you created your own, calculate it based on your measurements and confirm with the fabric clerk. Look at embellishments such as small flowers or cut outs that can be added to give the piece depth and character.
Cut and assemble the pieces in a mock up of the final piece. For a table cloth, lay out the lace and be sure it fits the area with room for a hem along the cut edges. If sewing lace edging to linen or another fabric, tack the lace to the material as it will appear when it is finished. Begin at one corner, lay the lace around the edge and tack as you go, but do not cut until the lace has been tacked completely around the piece. For a round doily, cut the pattern of the lace as you wish it to be laid out. Tack any edging or embellishments as they will appear in the finished piece.
Iron the materials. For a table cloth with a linen center, press the edges under 1/4 inch all around and repeat this process, so you have a doubled over layer of fabric along the entire edge. This will keep the edges from fraying when the lace is sewn on. For a doily, press all pieces to be sure there are no wrinkles or bumps that will interfere with sewing.
Sew the hem of the lace table cloth. For a linen panel with lace edging, re-tack the lace to the bottom of the ironed edge, 1/4 to 1/2 inch in from the edge, then sew along the line where they come together. For a doily, sew the lace to the linen panel or sew the lace edging around the center piece. Use small even stitches; either use a close setting on your sewing machine or hand-sew small stitches.
Be sure to measure carefully. Consult the clerk at your fabric store for additional advice. Look at some vintage pieces as examples to get an idea what you would like your project to look like when you are finished.
Avoid cutting anything until you are sure it fits.