A handkerchief is a classic accessory that has multiple functions. You can fold it up and tuck it in your jacket or blazer pocket for a fashionable touch or just keep it in your bag if needed. While you can easily buy one, there's nothing wrong with making your own handkerchief. Choose the right fabric, cut it to the desired size, fold and flatten the edges, then sew so that the folds don't open.
Part 1 of 3: Choosing a Fabric for a Handkerchief
Step 1. Choose cotton material to make a functional handkerchief
If you need a handkerchief to blow your nose or wipe your face, cotton is a good choice. You can choose plain or patterned fabrics. In addition, cotton is inexpensive.
- Try choosing a patterned cotton that is tailored to a particular celebration to make a beautiful handkerchief that can be worn all year round, such as a diamond-patterned fabric for Eid, red and green fabrics for Christmas, or red and white fabrics for independence day celebrations.
- Choose cotton fabrics that match the outfit, such as pink fabrics to match a pink outfit, or yellow fabrics to enhance a purple suit.
Step 2. Choose a special fabric for an intricate design
Handkerchiefs to be used as accessories are often made of lightweight and/or soft materials. If you want to make a handkerchief that will look great as an accessory or decoration, choose a light, sheer fabric such as:
- thin muslin
Step 3. Try a thicker material to make a more durable handkerchief
If you need a handkerchief that is strong and durable, choose a thick material, such as flannel or linen. Make sure you choose a fabric that is washable and won't pill or shrink.
- Wool, tweed, flannel, and cashmere are traditional fabrics commonly used to make pocket handkerchiefs for winter clothing in four seasons countries.
- You can even use flannel pajamas or old linen tablecloths to make handkerchiefs. Cut the cloth into a rectangle and make it into a handkerchief.
Part 2 of 3: Folding and Pressing the Fabric
Step 1. Iron the fabric first before you start folding the fabric, if needed
If the surface of the fabric is wrinkled or bubbly, it's a good idea to iron it first. This step will help ensure that the resulting handkerchief will be neat. Spread the cloth on a flat surface, such as an ironing board or on a dry towel placed on a table or counter. Iron the entire surface of the fabric several times to smooth it out.
- Place a t-shirt or towel over the cloth if you're worried that the heat of the iron will damage it. This step is especially important if you are using delicate fabrics, such as silk, chiffon, and lace.
- Set the iron to the lowest setting for the type of fabric you are using.
Step 2. Cut the fabric with a size of 30x30 cm
Once folded, you will get a handkerchief measuring 27x27 cm. You can make the handkerchief larger or smaller as desired. Just make sure you cut the fabric 2.5 cm larger than your desired handkerchief size. Some common handkerchief sizes include:
- The dimensions 30x30 cm are the standard size for pocket handkerchiefs. If you intend to make a pocket handkerchief for a suit, cut the fabric with a size of 33x33 cm.
- If you want to make the edge crease wider or narrower, or want to fold the edge more than once, make sure you increase/decrease the required width when cutting the fabric for the handkerchief. For example, if you want to make 1.25 cm wide pleats on each side of the handkerchief, add a total of 5 cm on each side of the fabric as you cut it.
Step 3. Fold the edge of the fabric on one side 1.3 cm wide
Lay the fabric with the inside facing up. Take measurements from the edge of the fabric on one side of the handkerchief and fold the fabric 1.25 cm wide.
If you prefer smaller or wider folds, fold the fabric as desired. For example, if you like a 2cm wide edge fold, fold the fabric to that size on all four sides of the fabric
Step 4. Pin the pin if you want
If you don't mind punching holes in the fabric, pin a pin in the folds of the fabric to hold it in place. Pin the needle perpendicular to the crease making it easier for you to remove it when you start sewing. Pin 1 pin every 5 to 7.5 cm along the edge crease.
It is recommended not to use a pin for delicate fabrics, such as silk, chiffon, and satin
Step 5. Iron the crease of the edge to make a firm line
Run the iron over the crease of the newly created handkerchief. If you are using a delicate material, it is recommended that you lay the shirt over the folds before ironing it. Don't forget to choose the lowest heat setting.
Keep in mind that this step is optional, but will result in neater creases on the handkerchief
Step 6. Repeat the same process on the other edge
When you've finished folding and pressing one edge of the handkerchief, do the same on the other edge. Repeat until all four edges of the handkerchief have been folded and pressed.
Part 3 of 3: Sewing Handkerchiefs
Step 1. Choose a thread that matches or will beautify the fabric
The thread to use will depend on the color of the fabric and the type of stitch you want to use. If you prefer yarn that will blend into the fabric, choose a yarn color that matches the color of the fabric. If you want the yarn to stand out, choose a yarn color that will enhance the color of the fabric or look contrasting.
- For example, if you're making a light blue handkerchief and want the yarn to be invisible, choose a light blue yarn as well.
- If you're making a red handkerchief and want the yarn to look contrasting, choose white or black yarn.
Step 2. Sew the folds of the handkerchief with straight stitches for a simple design
Select the setting for making straight stitches on the sewing machine and sew a pleat about 0.65 cm from the edge on all four sides of the handkerchief. This step will secure the folds of the fabric in a simple way and is perfect for making functional handkerchiefs or handkerchiefs with invisible stitches on patterned fabric.
For example, if you want to make a simple cotton handkerchief, you might opt for straight stitches to keep the design simple and clean
Step 3. Choose a zigzag stitch for an artistic touch
A zigzag stitch will stand out more than a straight stitch, even if you use the same color of thread and fabric. Choose this type of stitch if you want to create an eye-catching stitch along the edge of the handkerchief. You can make a zigzag stitch along the edge of the kerchief or over it. Sew the hem on all four sides of the kerchief to secure it.
For example, if you're making a yellow handkerchief with blue thread and want the stitches to stand out, a zigzag stitch could be an ideal choice
Step 4. Sew the hem manually for a smooth fabric
Slide the end of the thread through the eye of the needle, then pull it until it reaches a length of 45 cm on one side and 7.5 cm on the other. Make a knot at the long end of the thread and start sewing along the crease of the edge of the handkerchief. Pin the needle to the fabric about 0.65 cm from the edge of the fabric fold and pull it through both layers of the folded fabric until the thread feels tight. Then, bring back the thread of the other side of the fabric about 0.65 cm from the first stitch.
- If you want to ensure that the seams are completely invisible, it is recommended that you sew the handkerchief manually.
- Sewing by hand can also be a good option for delicate fabrics as using a sewing machine is likely to damage them.
Step 5. Add embroidery to the handkerchief as a decorative element
Once the handkerchief is complete, you can add embroidery of initials or other designs if you wish. If your sewing machine has an embroidery setting, you can use it to embroider the design on the handkerchief. Otherwise, you can embroider it manually.
- Try adding embroidered initials to the corner or center of the handkerchief for a personal touch.
- Add floral embroidery to the corner or center of the handkerchief for a pretty touch.
- Don't forget to add embroidery to the edges of the handkerchief as a final touch.