Sunday, August 28, 2011

Cloth handkerchiefs

I seem to have a lot of leftover fabric after making aprons, capris and other projects. So, instead of throwing it into the scrap bag I've used the larger pieces to make handkerchiefs.

For this project, you will need a sewing machine, matching or contrasting thread, a seam ripper, pins and scissors. And, of course, leftover fabric. I recommend old t-shirts or dress shirts.

First, use the large pieces of fabric and cut out squares that are about 11 x 11 inches.

Throw the scraps into a scrap bag (if you have one). As you can see, I still haven't ironed this shirt but it doesn't matter. Take the large squares and double-fold the edges over one by one. Pin the seams down.

Now you can sew the seams down on the sewing machine. I tend to sew the seams close to the edges so that it can never come undone later. I also sew one edge, keep the needle in the fabric and turn it to the next edge so that I don't have to stop and start.

Here is the finished result:

Estimated time for this project: about 1 minute to cut out, 3 minutes to pin and another 2-3 minutes to sew (6-7 minutes).


  • As always, pressing seams before sewing does help but it is not necessary: the results are still excellent. They are going to be washed anyways.
  • These handkerchiefs are machine washable and last for a long time. I am still using some that I made three years ago and they are as good as new.
  • These handkerchiefs are replacing disposable kleenexes in our house. 
  • I made some handkerchiefs out of old jersey t-shirts as well. For those, I did a zipper-stitch around all of the edges instead and they wash just as well.  I don't recommend just cutting jersey fabric though - if the edges are not serged or sewn in some way then the edges tend to roll up.

  • Try using thread that is a contrasting color to the fabric. 
  • I don't have a serger but you could simply serge all of the edges instead of double-folding the seams down and leave these handkerchiefs like that. 

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