Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Cloth Hankies for My Boys

As I am sitting here getting ready to post this, I have the privilege of looking out my back window and seeing what appears to be several cardinals darting in and out of the still-blooming Camellias at the back of the property. Strangely, they are all the duller colored females, but still pretty to watch...

Spent petal carpets.
On the same day I bought fabric for my little one's baptism outfit, Joann's had their flannel prints on sale for $2/yard. Of course I couldn't pass this up, whether I needed flannel or not! While I was in that aisle, I noticed that the licensed character prints were 40% off. Though not as a good a deal, I had been wanting to get some fabric to make hankies for my boys.

While we don't usually succumb to the colds and flus of the masses, we deal with our fair share of allergies. As I was just mentioning about the Camellias, our house is surrounded by lovely blooming things year round all of which deposit layer upon layer of yellow pollen on our car, our house, our driveway, our patio furniture, it's everywhere! So just when we want to open the windows and run the attic fan, we are inundated with irritants. All I really have to do to have a sneezing fit is to sweep the nooks and crannies of our wood floor. So, hankies are handy.

My teenager enjoys drawing, and he loves classic Disney artwork. So when I saw the Mickey fabric I knew I had a print for him. And middle son was really easy too. Next to Legos, Star Wars is his very favorite thing. And the fact that this fabric was Star Wars with Camo colors, even better! I bought this cream colored flannel thinking to layer it with the prints, but decided not to.

My original idea was to sew two layers together on my serger (like I would with cloth wipes), but I really hate changing out the threads on my serger and it currently has pink and red on the spools which I will need to complete another project.

 I don't know what I was thinking in terms of size when I bought the flannel, but my shrimpy prewashed and shrunken half-yard wasn't much to work with. I measured the various hankies I had lying around the house and discovered that there seems to be no standard handkerchief size. I have hankies measuring 7", 10", 16", and a Kleenex measures 8".

For my teenager I decided on 3 12" square hankies with a pressed and top-stitched hem. First I eyeballed a quarter inch hem around the edge and pressed, steaming my fingers a few times as I went. Then I folded it over one more time and pressed. I then opened up the corners and cut off a little triangle to reduce bulk, and gave the corners another quick press. The last thing was just to top-stitch around the whole edge.

Three Nice Handkerchiefs!

I decided to make smaller, thicker ones for my middle son to be able to fold and tuck into his jeans pockets. I cut his squares 8x8 and got ten pieces. I used my cutting mat and rotary cutter for this, which I find so indispensable I hardly move it from my workspace. Then I laid two of those right sides together and sewed a quarter-inch seam around the perimeter leaving a small hole for turning right side out. I clipped the corners off to reduce bulk and turned them right side out. The first one I gave a little press and top-stitched all the way around, making sure to close up the hole I left for turning. The second one I just finger pressed and top-stitched. Either way works, but if you already have the iron hot, it only takes a second to give each hankie a little steam. The finished handkerchiefs came out slightly smaller than a Kleenex.

So what's the big deal about a couple of squares of fabric?

EXACTLY! It's not a big deal to sew up a few squares of fabric. Aside from being Eco-friendly, they save you on your paper products bill during cold and flu season. It's something that can be personalized to each member of the family. No more icky used tissues lying about with someone screaming, "Gross! Who left this here?" And another thing, cloth hankies do not leave gross bits of Kleenex stuck to faces after repeated use! Now when I have to blow my nose in public I don't wonder if I have white bits stuck to my nose.

I think all of these are GREAT reasons to make your own cloth hankies. And if you don't know how to sew, send a little love to someone you know can sew and pay them to make you up a few.


  1. I use cloth wipes, but I haven't thought about cloth tissues! Duh!

  2. I made some hankies for my niece for Christmas. She loved them! And with the extra pollen around here lately, I've been using my daughter's baby washcloths and cloth wipes for my nose as well as hers. SO much better and softer than using tissues!

    1. Yep, I've done that too. We have a stack of really thin french terry wipes that make great tissues!

  3. Such a good idea! Thanks for sharing.

  4. We use hankies too. I purchased some for about 60 cents a piece through a mail order catalog called GVS. They have cute farm prints. I am sure these are nicer though as ours are very thin and like to roll up when dry.

    1. I haven't washed these yet, but usually two layers prevents rolling up. All of our cloth wipes are one layer and I have to smooth each and every one to stack them after washing because they come out rolled up like a tube.

      $.60 is pretty cheap!

  5. Good idea. I already made my own cloth wipes so this can't be much harder. :)