Sunday, July 11, 2010

Hanky skirt: Celebration or desecration?

OK, I've been wanting to try one of these out for YEARS. I'm sure I'm not the first one to come up with this. Oh, the lonely pile of hankies. $1, $2, maye $3 each, hanging out in their pristine pressed-ness with their crocheted doily cousins and tea towels aunties. Times are getting tough in the antique market, and though I'm not finding 6 yard pieces of 1940s rayon any longer, there the hankies sit. And sit. But they are just so sweet, begging to etch out a home in our not so delicate modern lives.

As a disclaimer, I too shudder at the scads of "jewelry" made out of epoxied bakelite buttons, permanently locked into a crafty death grip for the rest of eternity. I don't feel guilty about using vintage buttons for the clothes I make because of course they can be cut off and re-used. As for the vintage fabric, I try my very hardest to replicate the authentic garments with the original patterns and everything.

But I've always eyeballed those piles of dainty hankies at the flea markets: their adorable scalloped trimes, embroidered details, delicate flower and geometric designs and thought, darn, how can I use them to show off their wonderfulness?

This skirt has the practical pockets, the large horseshoe design that is double topstitched onto the front of the skirt. The hankies would also make darling patch pockets also, especially the children's hankies that are a bit smaller.

So what do you think, is there a possibility here, or is it offensive to cut these lovelies up and sew them onto a skirt? I would love to say that people are using them for other purposes, but I've been watching them for over 10 yrs now and I just don't think they're going to make a big comeback. I've tried to show them off as an accessory--I've actually made several garments specifically to showcase a little hanky pocket-- a black wool 40s jumpsuit and a slim pencil skirt to feature a color coordinating hanky peeking out. But permanently attaching it, am I committing a sin? They are all so unique and fabulous, I just love that.


  1. Go for it! It's a great idea. It seems to me that hankies are very rarely used, anymore, and most people would prefer to use a tissue. So, chances are they're not going to be used for their original purpose, anyway. And I think they look great!
    -Andi x

  2. I vote celebration! They look adorable on the skirt, and as Andi said, no one really uses hankies anymore (but they're all so pretty I buy them anyways...)

  3. They do look adorable, and it's true that they aren't doing anyone much good sitting unseen in a drawer somewhere. What if you photographed them and had them reprinted using That way, the hankies would be preserved, and the prints could be used in garments and appreciated. You could get quite a few hankies onto a yard of fabric.

  4. Oo, that reminds me of this quilting cotton I ran across recently on ebay--I think it was Marcus Bros or something, where they had a border print with all these cute hankies! It would make an adorable sundress. Wish I could find a photo to show you!

    I tried to organize a Spoonflower print of some of my feedsacks about 6 mos. ago and it fell through-- I've been working on another with Miss Deco Darlene, computer whiz. I love what you did with that sombrero print!! So fun.

  5. Oh nice! It's so hard to find nice border prints nowadays. I've actually been pondering how I would have to set up the image to do a border print with Spoonflower.

    That's too bad. You have some lovely fabrics, and it would be fabulous if they could be reprinted. I hope the one you're working on with Miss Deco Darlene works out! Thanks!

  6. There's another Darlene rocking the vintage out there in the world?! WOW.

    I love this look. I wear my hankies that way in my skirts and dresses, without sewing them as such. So I can change them up depending on my mood. Anyhoo, great minds think alike.

  7. I love the hankie skirt idea. There are just so many hankies in the world, going un-used or being devoured by moths! At least this way they can be admired!