Sorry to disappoint anyone, but our grandmothers and great grandmothers had the concept down to a fine art, long before the idea was resurrected in the 1990s and I am reminded of it each time I find a new batch of vintage linens and accessories.
This group of doilies is a perfect example. You can see that the linen centre to each doilie is actually a piece rescued from a damask cloth or napkin that has most likely been damaged. Rather than discard the linen, the frugally minded lady of the house has cut out the undamaged pieces and crocheted or knitted a deep edging so that these precious pieces could still serve a useful purpose and look delightful at the same time!
Going through boxes and cases from an estate sale recently I came on the usual box of pieces of lace. I think just about every house had one of these boxes, usually it had contained silk stockings but was used to hoard the precious pieces of lace which were being saved to rework into different garments and hankies. Often the pieces I find are actually a loop of lace, most likely rescued from a petticoat, saved so that it could be used for something else. Here is one such piece, a pretty loop of ivory filet lace with a scalloped edge.
Searching further through the same box of treasures I found a bodice in the most gorgeous peach coloured crepe de chine and along the top was an edging of exactly this design of lace! All hand sewn with narrow ribbon threaded through it to gather it to shape. Even the waistline was finished with a running stitch of the finest elastic thread. This must have made a lovely set of lingerie, shame that the petticoat didn't survive.
So this particular loop of lace was never recycled by its original owner, but I hope that now it will find a new home and become part of another project.
At the very bottom of the box was a small blue card, "ERL" Brand Lace is the title. ERL standing for Equals Real Lace! The advertising slogan at the bottom tells us that "ERL equals real lace but Costs Far Less"! The card also tells the buyer that "If you are well satisfied with "ERL" Brand Lace, kindly recommend it to you friends. In doing so you will be helping to support an ALL-BRITISH INDUSTRY."
There is even a returns policy on the reverse worded in a most charming fashion:
"Any lady, having JUST CAUSE to complain, who sends the whole 6 yard length with this card to the manufacturers A. Herbert Woolley & Co., Nottingham, will receive a perfect length in return, without charge, and post free"
Weren't these guys well ahead of their time with their marketing strategies and customer satisfaction goals!