This project was born from a personal need to get my grandmother’s handkerchiefs out of the boxes and baggies she had stored them in and out in the open where they could be appreciated. All you need is a moment or two to see how beautiful these lightweight fabric squares were. In fact so beautiful, I can’t really imagine using them for what they were intended. Perhaps most of them were there for emergency brow dabbing and neck patting on those sweltering August afternoons. That’s how I’m going to think about them!
Anyway, I’ve come up with a couple ways to showcase these beauties and you can watch some of the ideas on the coordinating video in the video section if you like, or read on here and see how all the projects are done.
Handkerchiefs Under Glass
ost of grandma’s handkerchiefs measure about 11” x 11”. Some are larger and many are smaller, but that’s about the average. In that case, a 12”x 12” frame works beautifully for them. I found just that at my local JoAnn etc. store. They are a very thin, black plastic frame with a clear plastic front so quite lightweight. They bend to remove the clear plastic so you can insert your object, in this case the handkerchief, and then you reinsert the plastic front.
Pretty cool. Goes together in a flash and really shows off the lace handkerchiefs because of the black background.
There are so many of these pretties that I couldn’t possibly display them all, so some of them I made into sachets for potpourri. This too is simple to accomplish. I first chose the handkerchief for its color, and then I bought 1/8th of a yard of colored netting to use to hold the potpourri.
It’s a simple process of laying down the handkerchief with the right side towards the table. Add a double layer of coordinating netting and add a scoop of sweet smelling potpourri in the center. Gather up the edges of the handkerchief and hold everything in place with a pretty ribbon. Matt wanted to embellish the ribbon with a pretty silver heart charm so we bought a bag of 6 and dressed up the sachets even more. These would be a very nice Valentine’s Day or Mother’s Day gift or keep it in mind for Sweetest Day!
Handkerchief Table Runner
For this project you’ll need multiple handkerchiefs that blend well together. Again, I had so many of them from my grandmother that I could divide them into color groupings. I found just what I wanted in the yellow group to put together a pretty table runner.
And, as quick as the other two projects were, this one takes some time because there is a lot of ironing and hand sewing taking place. Don’t get me wrong, I finished it in a couple hours, but it’s not a quick coffee break craft!
1. Begin by laying each handkerchief on the fusible interfacing and cut a piece of interfacing just slightly larger than the handkerchief.
2. Move to the ironing board and iron each handkerchief to remove as many creases as possible, then place the wrong side of the handkerchief on the shiny side of the interfacing and with a hot but dry iron, fuse the interfacing to the handkerchief. Place the iron as close to edges as possible, but don’t worry about making sure it is fused at the edges. You can come back later and go over the edge once you cut off the excess interfacing.
3. Cut off the excess interfacing right along the edge of the handkerchief. Be very careful not to cut through the sewn edge of the handkerchief. If you want to fuse the edges better, go back to the ironing board and hit the edges since you don’t have to worry about melting the interfacing onto your iron.
4. Now you need to spend some time arranging your handkerchiefs. Notice I tried to cover some of the intense yellow and let some of it show to keep it as even as possible along the runner. I also used white embroidered handkerchiefs at both ends. The ones in the middle were a bit larger in size as well so the runner tapered a bit at the ends. Just things to think about!
5. Pin the handkerchiefs together where they overlap. I worked two at a time and then put the pairs together.
6. When stitching the handkerchiefs together you are basically appliquéing them to each other. On the top I used the method of coming up from the bottom, through the bottom and top handkerchiefs, and wrapping the thread over the hemmed edge and punching back down through the bottom fabric very close to the thread coming up. Then I moved over about ¼” and punched up from the bottom again into both the bottom and top fabrics and continued in the same fashion all the way around the edge that was overlapping.
7. On the back, simply tack the bottom fabric to the top in three or four places. Try not to go through the handkerchief and just catch the interfacing if you can.
Once all handkerchiefs are sewn together, put your pretty new runner in place and enjoy!
Children and adults alike will enjoy putting together these great hostess or neighborhood gifts for the holiday. They solve the problem of turkey leftovers and can become a traditional decoration!