Men's Handkerchiefs

Updated: Jan 14

How the author made simple handkerchiefs using cotton block-print fabrics from India.

Since returning from India last month, I had been itching to sew using the fabrics I bought there. Although, my plans with them will have to be put on hold until I complete my on-going project (a huge one - figuratively and literally!).

I did, however, manage to squeeze in a quick project to make a set of men's handkerchiefs. The husband chose two half-meter strips of block print fabrics from the shop's remnant stash, each with selvage-to-selvage widths of about 130cm. One fabric had motifs of elephants on black background, while the other had motifs that reminded me of bunga mas (if you are a product of Malaysian national education system and had paid attention in Sejarah, you would know what these are!).

The sewing process was extremely simple. Starting with one of the fabric strips, I simply trimmed its edges to create a clean "long" rectangle. The dimensions weren't important, as long as all edges were straight and corners were at right angles.

Then, I halved the "long" rectangle to create two "short" rectangles that turned out to be about 45cm by 65cm (again, exact dimensions were unimportant)

Two "short" rectangles ready to be sewed into men's handkerchiefs.

Here's where I wished I had learned to make rolled hems.

I have read so many wonderful things about rolled hems, how much time the rolled hem foot on the sewing machine saves, and the immaculate outcome it produces.

Alas, learning a new skill (or procuring a rolled hem foot for the sewing machine) would have taken way too much time from my above-mentioned major project. So, with no rolled hem foot or the skills to make rolled hem, and wanting to complete this project as fast as possible, I decided to make do with double-fold hems by folding in about 0.8cm twice and then straight stitch.

Double-fold hems to finish the edges of the handkerchiefs.

Then, I simply repeated the process with the other half-meter strip of fabric, and I have four pieces of men's handkerchiefs!

I see this project as a pilot project for the fabrics I bought from India. It has given me a preliminary feel of how the fabrics behave, so I can know what to expect when I actually use them for bigger and more complicate projects. Currently, I am thinking maybe a bag, some shirts for the husband, and some baby-doll tunics for myself. Let's see what I end up making!

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