Crocheted doilies give your table a touch of old-time charm, making them an ideal complement to your shabby chic or antique decor. However, when you first crochet or wash a doily, it's soft and floppy. To allow the crochet stitches to really show, it is necessary to stiffen the doily with some kind of liquid starch. Buy liquid starch in the laundry aisle of the supermarket, or save your pennies and make your own with sugar.
Wash the doilies with laundry detergent to remove any old starch. Do not put them in the dryer. Instead, lay the damp doily on a sheet of thick cardboard -- a flattened cardboard box works well -- and spread it flat with your hands.
Pour undiluted liquid starch into a bowl or make a sugar-water starch by bringing 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup water to a boil in a saucepan. If you choose the sugar-water method, allow the mixture to cool to the touch, then pour it into a bowl.
Dip a sponge brush into the starch solution and paint the doily with a generous amount. Turn the doily over and paint the other side. Rinse the brush with water.
Pin the doily into place with straight pins. Stick the pins through the edges of the doily and into the cardboard. It will dry in the shape you pin it.
Check an edge of the doily after the starch has dried. If it's not stiff enough, paint on another coat of starch, coating only the front, without unpinning the doily. Repeat this step until the doily is as stiff as you want it.