How to Make an Heirloom Lace-Edged Hanky for the Bride-to-Be

comments (12) February 17th, 2016     

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JenniferStern Jennifer Stern, contributor
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My embroidered initial was an opportunity for a little something blue.
Youll be surprised how easy it is to make mitered lace corners!
My friend Pam sends this sweet note off with each hanky she gives to a bride-to-be...
My embroidered initial was an opportunity for a little something blue.

My embroidered initial was an opportunity for a little something blue.

Photo: Jen Stern
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Among my repertoire of handcraft techniques, heirloom sewing holds a special place in my heart. It seems to me that the only time I delve into my box of french laces, batiste, and fine cotton sewing thread is when I'm making something extra special...for someone else. My favorite projects have been the christening gowns that I've designed for my girls and my sisters' children, each an heirloom that will be handed down to their children. Another project I love to make is a lace-edged hanky for a friend who's getting married. I can pick my laces, stitch them together to create a fancy band, and use it to trim a plain square of cotton batiste in a single afternoon (unlike the christening gowns that are "slightly" more involved!). An embroidered initial of the bride's first name adds a final personal touch. I'm going to show you how to make a simple "fancy band" of french cotton lace, but feel free to get as fancy as you want. It's therapeutic to sit in front of the sewing machine and lace together, so you may want to add a few more rows. I machine-embroidered my first initial in the corner of this hanky...I might be needing it in the near future! If you don't have an embroidery machine, you can hand-embroider a simple initial.

One of my super-talented friends, Pam, sends a sweet note with each hanky she gives to a bride-to let her know that the lace hanky can be stitched into a baby bonnet. When her daughter grows up and gets married, the stitches can be taken out and she can carry the hanky down the aisle with her. If she had a son, it would make a lovely gift for his bride.

Here's what you'll need:

  • A 16-inch square of cotton batiste (I've put links to the Martha Pullen Co. above-excellent selection of fabric and lace!)
  • 2-1/2 yards of cotton lace insertion (both sides are straight)
  • 2-1/2 yards of cotton lace edging (one side is straight and the other side has a pretty edge)
  • Spray starch (I use Niagara, which you can get at the grocery store)
  • 60-weight white fine cotton sewing thread
  • A size 10 needle
  • Embroidery supplies and thread of your choice (I used wash-away stabilizer and baby blue rayon embroidery thread)
  • A CLEAN iron and ironing board (If you haven't looked at the sole plate of your iron in a while, check it out to be sure it's not dirty. You'll be amazed how easy "stuff" can get on white fabric and lace. If the board has seen better days, like mine, put a piece of white cotton fabric over it.)

Rip a 16-inch square of batiste. Press and lightly starch the fabric. Instead of cutting across the fabric to make your square, clip in 1/2 inch along the edge and tear the fabric.

rip on grain
Lightweight fabrics such as batiste will tear along the grainline; that way, the weave of the fabric will be straight across your hanky.


trim off edges
Press the square and use a ruler and rotary cutter to trim off all the little "hairs" that are left by tearing the fabric.

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posted in: , diy bride, something blue diy, wedding diy, brides, hanky

Comments (12)

kaykay7c writes: Did you pre-wash your batiste? I got mine from Martha Pullen. I went to another fabric store for other supplies and the lady there told me batiste didn't need to be pre-washed.
Posted: 3:30 pm on May 12th
Cteleisha writes: Just lovely....I'm so happy to find your post! Thank you
Posted: 9:59 pm on February 6th
BoHolm writes: Was just wondering if you wash your lace before you starch and sew it onto the hanky. Do you use any stabilizer between the lace and fabric when sewing
I made 2 hankies but was not happy with my mitred corners. Your instructions are clear however I am I wondering if there is another way to get a crisper mitred corner. Any tips you are able to offer would be appreciated
Posted: 9:31 pm on June 24th
kobochan writes: i love the idea... ty ty ty...
Posted: 1:30 am on June 29th
Lilyangel writes: *first attempt....
Posted: 1:07 pm on January 21st
Lilyangel writes: Needing to make a bride's hankie for my dil...just wondering, did you hem (rolled or otherwise) the hankie before you added the lace? I can't tell from the pictures and it doesn't say in the tutorial...Fist attempt here so I want to make sure I know what I am doing!! lol
Posted: 1:04 pm on January 21st
NeedtoSewBlog writes: Absolutely lovely! Just the perfect gift this time of year.

Thank you!
Posted: 1:45 pm on June 5th
tsailee writes: Brayden, I was able to find this online and thought it might help:

Martha Pullen also sells handkerchief bonnet kits at her store: Look at the menu on the left under "Kits".

These are also great gifts for older men who prefer monogrammed hankies to Kleenex. Just serge the edges instead of adding lace.
Posted: 1:22 pm on May 27th
Sweet_Dee writes: I am always looking for ways to make heirlooms, I love this! I love the words in the poem and the whole idea! LOVE THIS HANKY!
Posted: 9:21 pm on May 17th
Brayden4 writes: I love the hanky with the 'blue' initial embroidery. I will be doing that for my daughters wedding.
Does anyone have a pattern for a brides hanky that turns into something for a baby? I can't remember what it was, but I loved the idea, any suggestions would be helpful!!!
Posted: 10:31 pm on May 16th
JenniferStern writes: Hi Meredith, I like to use Aqua Mesh wash away stabilizer--it looks like paper (not the clear stuff). After the embroidery is done, I trim most of the stabilizer away and then the rest washes away. I almost alway use 505 Temporary Adhesive Spray to hold the fabric in the hoop--It makes it much easier to get the embroidery positioned exactly where I want it! (Never too many questions... :>)
Posted: 5:12 pm on May 16th
MeredithP writes: I love heirloom sewing, but really have no use for it. I like this idea very much. I assume you used a wash away stabilizer when you machine embroidered? What type do you like for this purpose? Did you use temporary spray adhesive to secure the hankie to the stabilizer, or perhaps sticky wash away? So many questions...:-)
Posted: 9:39 am on May 16th
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