Tissue or handkerchief, which do you prefer?

Jul 20, 2014 | 11 comments


This week, I was cutting out bias strips to edge the quilt my Mum made for me. I was using a double white sheet I got from a charity shop for £1.50. As I was cutting out the strips, I was thinking how soft the fabric was and started wondering if they would make handkerchiefs

Personally, I love to use a fresh crisp white handkerchief every day. I know many people prefer to use tissues. Myself, I don’t like the way they disintegrate in my pocket/bag and I’m also not fond of single use products.

So I thought I would give it a try. I measured one of my handkerchiefs and cut out four.


Then I made a small hem and sewed all around the edge….job done! How many could you make from a double sheet? Hundreds. So the cost of each handkerchief is as good as nothing.



After that, I fancied having a go at drawn thread work. Something that I think is elegant and very pretty. So, I measured off a hem, maybe in retrospect, a little big. And using some tweezers, I teased out ( haha, see what I did there) the end of a thread. Pulling gently with the tweezers and keeping the tweezers very close to the fabric, ease the thread out. Each gentle pull will pull out an inch of thread, concertina the fabric, push the rest of the fabric back so the end of the thread advances towards you, and pull again.


Eventually the fabric will look like this, with one thread drawn out.


Do it again, and it will look like this.


I now had to hem the edges, creating the little drawn wedge shapes.



To do this, I had to pick up a few threads and pull the needle through, then putting the needle back through the same place, pick up a few threads of the hem edge to secure it. As you can see, I am still learning this technique, and the hem is rather uneven at this point. I shall carry on, and if it looks too awful, I just won’t use it. It’s taking quite a while to do right now as I am learning, and I have not mastered the art of embroidery, so this type of thing is unfamiliar. But I’m enjoying the learning and anticipating that I will master it and be able to make something lovely.

I may make another four, and that would be plenty to top up my supplies. I keep the existing ones in a very pretty box. Some of them are extremely fine and not for everyday use as they are not particularly practical, but oh so pretty, and I like to take them when out for the evening.






  1. Lesley

    thanks for that, it will help me work it out

  2. Joy

    To mitre, before you turn the seams over just fold the triangle in the corner over to about the width of the 2 overturns for the hem and it will automatically mitre it for you.
    I tried to add a picture to show what I meant but it didn’t let me

  3. Lesley

    ok, I’ll see if I can do it. It would look nice

  4. Joy

    Looking again at the photos of the one you’re working on, what about mitering the corners for a more professional finish?

  5. Saraband

    I always use men’s cotton handkerchiefs as I find the women’s size too small.

  6. Lesley

    Oh yes, that’s a good idea, they would be great for gifts. They used to be a classic gift when you couldn’t think of anything else didn’t they. Not now. A handkerchief or two, possibly prettied up with embroidery or edging would be a lovely gift.

    I hadn’t thought of putting lace around either. I might try that

  7. joy of quilting

    I have some old handkercheifs that are for ‘best’ as well, for everyday I use bought mens ones that are sold in packs of 10/$20 or there abouts, I prefer the white but they’re a lot dearer. I might try making some myself. If you want to make fancy ones, mine have one corner of lace like the antique one in your last picture, but only the one corner cut off. Looking at your photo made me think, I have picot edging stitch on my machine, so maybe this could be a nice Christmas giftm maybe even with an initial in the corner? Thanks, the creative juices are starting to flow.

  8. Linda

    I have a box of pretty hankies and no idea of what to do with them. I had thought about sewing them together to make a tablecloth or a curtain.

  9. Charlotte Clark

    I love hand-drawn thread-work. Where are you learning this? Any chance of a tutorial.

  10. Marion

    Very elegant, so much nicer than paper. Must look at my own supplies!

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