How to Make a Personalized Handkerchief for Him

comments (3) December 12th, 2008     

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_nikki_ Nicole Smith, contributor
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Make your mark with hand embroidery.

Make your mark with hand embroidery.

Photo: Nicole Smith

Creating a gift for a special guy in your life can be a tricky process. They always seem to gravitate toward items of the electronic variety and hardly ever truly understand the labor of love behind a handmade gift. However, when a present idea fits the giftee perfectly, giving a slaved-over item is much more satisfying than receiving.

I recently had to come up with a gift idea for a certain boy who spends most of his time studying for his degree in Shakespearean literature. After a couple of conversations of slyly trying to dig what to make for him, I decided to embroider a Shakespearean quote onto something. My original idea was to crossstitch it in a kitchy fashion and frame it; however, after discovering that one of his favorite characters was Othello, the frame idea was nixed.

I read the play, decided on a quote I liked, and with the help of a wonderful friend (I'm looking your way, Michaela), discovered that I could use Shakespeare's First Folio to find the original old English spelling and grammar and embroider it onto a hanky—the most pivotal prop in the whole play.

To make a long story short, deciding how to embroider on something so fragile and so close to an edge proved to actually be a bit of a challenge. Here's how I finally ended up making it, step-by-step:

You'll need:

  • Embroidery floss
  • Embroidery hoop
  • Water-soluble stabilizer
  • Temporary spray adhesive or pins
  • Handkerchief
  • Embroidery needle
  • Pencil or water-soluble marker
  • Iron
  • Towel
  • Press cloth

1. Prewash your handkerchief and embroidery floss. Prewashing the embroidery floss will keep it from bleeding onto the handkerchief later, just in case he washes it (he's a boy, who knows what he'll do with a hanky).

2. Iron your floss. This will help keep it untangled as you stitch and is especially important after you wash it to get rid of any kinks.

3. Draw your motif onto your handkerchief using a pencil or a water-soluble marker. I wrote mine out with a pencil, but you can also use your computer monitor as a light box and trace directly from a computer font onto your handkerchief.

4. Hoop your water-soluble stabilizer. Be careful not to rip it.

5. Secure your handkerchief to the stabilizer in the hoop using temporary spray adhesive or pins. This will keep the fabric stiff as you stitch.

6. Hand-embroider your motif. There's a great tutorial by the oh-so-talented Erika Kern here. I used a backstitch for the entire quote and French knots for the dots on the I's and the period.

7. After you've stitched the entire quote, remove the stabilizer from the hoop. Follow the stabilizer manufacturer's instructions to wash away the stabilizer.

8. Let the handkerchief air dry. After it dries, lay it face down on a towel and press with a dry iron using a press cloth, and voila! Your guy now has a hand-embellished handkerchief made lovingly by you.

posted in: embroidery, guy gift, shakespeare

Comments (3)

viakrm writes: Help! I am overwhelmed by stabilizer options. What kind did you use? I really want him to be able to use and wash his linen handkerchief when it's done.

Thanks so much. Best tutorial I have found!
Posted: 6:34 pm on July 4th
LIVINGSTONBeulah28 writes: Set your life easier take the home loans and everything you require.
Posted: 10:14 am on October 24th
CalPatch writes: this is fantastic nicole! what a perfect gift. he must have been thrilled!
Posted: 11:38 pm on December 12th
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