September is two weeks away... which means you have just enough time to scurry around finding a few handkerchiefs to replace your Kleenex habit before your first autumn cold hits. Yikes, two weeks until the cultural end of summer, if not the calendar end of summer? What am I doing here typing away, instead of out being outside enjoying the last gasps of summer? Am I insane? Apparently for you, dear reader, I will do anything.
So, yes, fall, colds, handkerchiefs. If you're brand new to the handkerchief world and want a primer on how they work, why they aren't super gross, and more, go take a peek here first!
Today, I'm sharing how I acquired most of my handkerchiefs: handmaking them! Those of you who don't sew probably think this tutorial isn't for you, but you'd be wrong; stick around because I promise this is an easy project even for a novice. Sew four straight lines and you've got yourself a new zero waste tool that, if you're anything like me, you'll soon find indispensable. Although you may certainly use a sewing machine if you wish, I always sew mine by hand. It goes quickly and requires a minimum of fuss.
Step one: Gather your supplies. You'll need a piece of fabric, 10 - 15 straight pins, a needle, thread, and a pair of scissors. You can keep your supplies basic and choose whatever you have on hand, or if you're purchasing new supplies, a few notes you might want to heed:
Choose a soft cotton fabric for your handkerchief. Although I have made some out of quilting cotton, it can be quite stiff, and I find that I reach for the softest ones first. You can purchase new fabric, beg scraps off a crafty friend, or even use a piece cut from old clothing. As for thread: f you choose a 100% cotton thread over a polyester or a polyester blend, your handkerchief will be compostable many, many years down the line when it gets too well-worn to be of use any longer.
Step two: Cut your fabric to size. What size, of course, is all down to what you prefer. Play around with what you like - some people I know prefer larger handkerchiefs, some prefer smaller ones. A good rule of thumb is to cut your fabric one inch wider and one inch taller than you want the eventual handkerchief to be, as the hem on each side will use up about half an inch.
Step 3: Pin one side. Fold the edge under by about a quarter inch, and then under again one more time so that the raw edge is entirely enclosed. Pin as you go so that it holds its shape. True sewists may choose to break out the iron and ruler here to ensure a crisp, uniform line, but hey: I say we're just doing handkerchiefs here, no need to get too fussy unless you'd like to.
Step four: Once you've pinned the edge, sew along it by hand with a simple running stitch, taking care to catch all three layers of fabric. If your skills are failing you at this point, watch a few YouTube videos or ask a friend, then dive in!
Step five: Pin the side opposite from the first one you did, and sew that, too. Then, do the remaining two sides the same way.
That's it, you're done! No need to buy a handkerchief because now you have one made by your very own self. I found the process of making them to be quite fun, and after making a large stash for myself (on some winter weeks, I go through the whole lot), I made a few to give to friends, too.
One last thing to note: if sewing isn't your jam, there's no reason handkerchiefs need to be perfect. Grab a square of unhemmed fabric and call it a day - it will fray in the wash but remain perfectly serviceable. Other easy ways to stock up on these: use bandannas, find vintage ones, ask your parents or grandparents if they have extras in their stash.
Have you sewn your own handkerchiefs? Any beginning sewing questions I can answer? Happy handmaking!