March 5, 2014

Tutorial: Quick Sew Handkerchiefs

As I posted in my current crafty ambitions post, we have a bit of a need for some handkerchiefs around my house. At least as a supplement to our tissue use. I have no fantasy that this first round of 36 handkerchiefs will last us a full week, especially when multiple family members have colds. But it is a start to being a titch more sustainable. And besides, they are very cute!

These handkerchiefs are sewn in much the same way that flannel burp cloths are done, if any of you are familiar with that. Only instead of both sides being flannel, one side is cotton. The softer flannel side is, of course, the side your nose gets to enjoy.

Step 1: Choose your size and your fabrics
I chose to do 7-inch squares not after extensive research on the most pleasing and functional handkerchief size but merely to accommodate the scrap flannel I already had on hand. You will need an equal number of flannel squares and cotton squares. Iron as needed and place them right sides together (fronts facing each other). I didn't bother to pin these but you may do so if you prefer.

Step 2: Sew around the edge but leave one opening
My stitch line is 0.25-inch from the edge. I left an opening that is oh, maybe 3 finger-widths wide. Keep in mind you will be sticking your thumb and index finger in there when it comes time to turn these babies right side out. Notice that I back-stitched on either side of the opening. This keeps the stitching from unraveling later.

Step 3: Clip the corners
This removes bulk and makes tidy, pointed corners much easier to achieve. Just be careful not to cut through your stitching!

Step 4: Turn the handkerchief right side out
As I mentioned, I put my thumb and index finger into the opening and grab for the farthest corner. Gently pull that corner through the opening and continue working the handkerchief right side out.

Step 5: Use a blunt tool to poke corners out
Generally the corners won't be crisp without a little assistance. The little wooden tool in the photo came with a package of batting (the stuffing you put in things like stuffed balls or mermaid dolls). A not-too-sharp pencil would work too. Poke it in through the opening and push into each of the corners. Be careful not to stab completely through the corner.

Step 6: Sew around the edge again
Before you begin, make sure the little fabric edges near the opening, lips if you will, are folded in and laying flat. This last go round of stitches should ideally catch those tiny flaps of fabric in it. This would be a good time to use a fun stitch. My sweet old machine keeps things simple with a straight stitch so I don't have that option.

Tah-dah! You've completed a homemade handkerchief!


  1. You finally got your hankies! :) These are cute, might have to whip out my machine sometime soon....brush the cobwebs off.

  2. Let me know if you want to haul it over and have a sew-fest. Mine is not portable so you'd have to come to me!