When we were kids, our grandparents always carried handkerchiefs. Because these were kind of considered “old fashioned” by the time we were older, however, we never got into the habit of carrying them ourselves. Even so, we’ve always had a fond nostalgic feeling for them because of how often we saw our grandparents using them. That’s probably why we have such a soft place in our hearts for crafts and DIY projects made out of vintage handkerchiefs! For the past few weeks, we’ve been combing the Internet looking for pretty ideas to stock up and make at our leisure.
Just in case you’re as in love with the beautiful vintage aesthetic of a DIY handkerchief project, here are 15 of the best ideas, designs, and tutorials that we came across in our search!
1. Envelope style handkerchief clutches
Speaking of pretty vintage things and pieces that people don’t necessarily use as commonly anymore, we’ve also always had a penchant for making and carrying DIY clutches! We like to thrift, embellish or entirely create fancy little hand held purses and keep them for special occasions or when we feel like dressing slightly more vintage inspired than usual. Imagine our excitement, then, when we came across this tutorial from My Favourite Crafts for a project that combines two things we enjoy so much! Check out how they made these cute little pouch clutches from vintage handkerchiefs, lace, and buttons.
2. Upcycled handkerchief bunting
As weirdly specific as this sounds, we’ve always been big fans of reusable party decor. It started years ago when we first got our own apartment after college and we hosted and decorated for a housewarming party. When the celebration was all said and done, we loved the festive way our home looked so much that we kind of just left the decor hanging for weeks extra, just because it made us happy! That’s how we became obsessed with the idea of reusable bunting that’s generally decorative enough to leave up year round. These adorable bunting flags made from vintage handkerchiefs are the perfect example of what we mean. See how they’re made in more detail on Old Sweet Songs!
3. Embroidered handkerchief doll dress
Perhaps it’s because we loved playing with dolls when we were little just as much as our kids do now so we have a bit of a bias, but we think making doll clothes is one of the most fun crafts we’ve ever done. We’re especially big fans of the idea when we can upcycle something old or unused and turn it into doll clothing to save it from the trash and give it a new lease on life. That’s why we thought this absolutely adorable handkerchief doll dress was such a good idea! Get the full instructions for creating one of your own on Craftsy.
4. Vintage hankie table runner
Did we really catch your attention when we started talking about permanent decor pieces made out of vintage handkerchiefs but you’re just not sure that hanging actual bunting is quite the aesthetic you’re going for? Well, we think you’ll be pleased to learn, then, that bunting isn’t the only thing you can make to incorporate upcycled handkerchiefs into your home decor scheme! We’re massive fans of the simplicity and old fashioned style of this table runner made of vintage handkerchiefs that have been quilted together. Find out how it was created on Dishfunctional Designs.
5. Handkerchief trinket bowl
Not long ago, we came across the idea of structural fabric crafts. These are DIY projects that let you create something that has form and shape out of fabric, even though fabric is usually a draping, flowing material that doesn’t really stand up on its own. We started out by looking up projects using fabric decoupage techniques and discovered all kinds of awesome things from there! Imagine our excitement, then, when we came across this adorable little trinket, change, or jewelry bowl made with not just any fabric, but a vintage handkerchief! Take a look at this tutorial from Miss Vicky Viola to see how they gave this simple handkerchief some body of its won.
6. Vintage handkerchief quilt
Did we really catch your attention when we mentioned the concept of handkerchiefs pathed together, only to let you down a little when you realized it was mostly just edge joining and not actual quilting, which you’re an avid fan of? Then here’s another quilting based project to redeem ourselves in your books! Check out how you can make an actual quilt from all different pretty vintage handkerchiefs in this tutorial featured on Zeedlebeez. We love the way they added a fringy border between and around each patchwork piece for extra detail!
7. Handkerchief dress craft
Perhaps you’re the kind of enthusiastic crafter that enjoys making your own favours, decorative trinkets, and invitations no matter the occasion and you’ve been collecting old handkerchiefs for a while now so you’re looking for a way to use many at once (but you don’t have quite enough for a whole quilt)? Then perhaps making them into a series of little handkerchief and paper dresses that make really great wedding shower invitations or engagement announcements is the best project for you! They’re simple enough to make even just by looking at the photo but, just in case you feel like you could use a little more guidance, here’s an awesome tutorial from My Favourite Crafts.
8. Hand stamped handkerchiefs
We know we’ve been primarily talking about ways to upcycle vintage handkerchiefs to save them from lying around unused or being thrown out, but what if you’re interested in handkerchief related crafts before you’ve built up a collection of old ones to work with? Then we think maybe you’d prefer to make your own handkerchiefs from scratch instead! Most of the old fashioned ones you’ll find in stores (or in your grandma’s dresser drawers) are embroidered, but that doesn’t mean you can’t try a different technique to make a modern version! We love the way E-Vite made their DIY handkerchiefs from simple plain fabric stamped with fabric ink and any shape they please.
9. Hand drawn handkerchief gift
Are you actually an artist whose skills lie primarily in hand drawing or painting and you love using unconventional tools in your art because you enjoy working with different mediums? Maybe you’re actually looking for a handkerchief based craft that your kids can get involved with. In either case, we have a feeling you’re going to love this hand drawn handkerchief gift idea! Martha Stewart guides you through the process of creating hand drawn images on plain pre-made (or hand sewn, depending on your comfort levels with stitching) handkerchiefs. These make fantastic gifts because they’re unique and completely customizable!
10. Handkerchief angel ornaments
Did you ever spend chilly winter afternoons making Christmas angel ornaments our of your grandma’s old fabric scraps when you were a kid? We sure did, and by the end of the season our Christmas tree was always covered in them! Now, we’ve taught our kids how to make them because they make such cute ornamental pieces, even if it’s not Christmas and you’re not going to hang them on a tree. Hallie’s Collectibles, however, suggests using vintage handkerchiefs rather than just fabric scraps, which we think makes crafting these with our kids a beautiful full circle moment; we used some old fashioned handkerchiefs we got from our grandma to make the same craft she taught us without our own kids, like an homage to her and the afternoons we spent together.
11. Scented bowl fillers made from handkerchiefs
If you’re going to make something out of vintage supplies and upcycle something old fashioned, would you prefer to sort of stick with that theme, rather than trying to evolve the handkerchiefs too far, into something too modern, so that the finished product looks a little bit incoherent and weird? In that case, we’d definitely suggest taking a look at these little scented packets that Kitty and Me Designs made from lavender pot pourri and vintage handkerchiefs! We love these because they make the room smell pleasant and look adorable no matter where you put them, but they’ll also keep closets and drawers fresh and keep moths away from your expensive or handmade knit wear.
12. Handkerchief wrapped necklace
Okay, we know that technically the necklace in the photo we’ve shown you here was made with a classic paisley patterned bandana rather than a handkerchief, but the technique would be the same in process and would work just as well for making you a beautiful piece in the end! Check out the steps that Happiness is Homemade has laid out for you and learn how to cover large beads using fabric wrapping techniques.
13. Hankie recipe envelope
Did we really catch your attention when we started talking about party and special occasion invitations that are homemade and involve handkerchiefs in some way, but you’re just not sure the dress design we showed you earlier is quite the design for you? In that case, we think you’ll be happy to hear that we’ve got an alternative idea so you can get those handkerchiefs involved in an alternative way! Check out how Bumblebee Linens folded theirs into a classy, beautiful envelope that a regular paper invitation will slide right into perfectly.
14. Tied handkerchief wreath
Once again, we know that the picture for this project looks as though it was actually made with classic bandanas rather then vintage handkerchiefs, but we just couldn’t resist putting it on anyways because the techniques are totally applicable and the finished product is so cute! Check out how Swift Shopper used their little squares of cloth to create a knot tied fringe all the way around a circular crafting frame. Replace bandanas with your vintage handkerchiefs and voila; a beautiful handkerchief piece!
15. Vintage hankie burp cloths
When our kids were still babies, some of the most beautiful and most useful gifts we received from family and friends were handmade and upcycled things that were made to be practical but still created with some fancy flare. Out of those things, a set of burp cloths made from vintage hankies, just like the ones you see in this photo, might have been the thing we used the most. In fact, we liked them so much that we’ve followed this fantastic tutorial featured on Melanie Ham to make the same cloths for other friends and family countless times since!