5.10.2007

vintage handkerchief pillows

About a month ago I got an email from Donna who had recently posted about a shopping bag full of old hankies that were her mothers and grandmothers. She didn’t know what to do with them. Robbie, one of her blog readers and also one of mine, commented and referred her to my post about hankies. Thanks Robbie!

After some discussion in which I agreed to make four pillows for her, Donna sent me the hankies—all 144 of them—and I got to work. First up was a good soaking and washing. I figure that any hankies that don’t make it intact through the washing/drying process aren’t fit to make pillows from. Not that I expect my pillows to be thrown around or become the weapon of choice in pillow fights, but I don’t want them to fall apart either.

I lost about 20 of them along the way. And lots more have stains that didn’t wash out or holes in the corners. That’s OK—I’ll cut out the damaged sections and use them for sachets. There were still plenty of good ones left for pillows.

Donna didn’t give me too much guidance, although some customers do and that's fine. One was to be for her son so it shouldn’t be too feminine; the others could be as girly as I wanted them to be. She liked purple.

So, here’s what I came up with:

From a hanky with flower bouquets in the corners, I cut it into quarters and reassembled it so the edges faced inward. I added some yellow vintage buttons (in the center of one of the flowers) and a border of new coral/white floral cotton.

vintage handkerchief pillow

From a hanky with a bouquet of roses tied with a blue ribbon in one corner, I cut it in half diagonally and layered it over another hanky with a crocheted pink and blue edging. A turquoise and pink vintage button stack and two coordinating fabrics complete the design.

vintage handkerchief pillow

This was the most challenging and also my favorite design. I took a more masculine hanky with autumn leaves in gray and orange, added a border of orange and red striped cotton, a sprinkling of orange buttons in one corner, and finished up with a vintage gray and white print outer border. There’s no getting around the fact that hankies are feminine by nature, but I think I succeeded in not going too girly with this one.

vintage handkerchief pillow

Last but not least…the very purple one. From a hanky with bunches of violets, I cut it into quarters and reassembled it, added a purple-striped border and another of purple polka dots, and kept it from being "too" purple with the addition of eight green buttons in the same shade as the background green of the hanky.

vintage handkerchief pillow

As of yesterday, they’re on their way to their new home. Thanks Donna—hope you love 'em! Next up, one of my embroidered bird pillows for my friend Jenny to give as a baby gift. I planned the design (fabrics and buttons) last night and also started on the embroidery. Yesterday afternoon (which was gorgeous by the way and almost 80 degrees) I photographed lots of vintage goodies for my web site so look for more vintage aprons, linens, buttons and trims in the next week or so.

24 comments:

Carrie S. said...

Just lovely, as usual!

jennicakes said...

Incredible!

Abby said...

They look so good. I really like the one that looks like an evelope. Who new hankies were so pretty. I have only seen white with white embroidery.

Brenda@CoffeeTeaBooks said...

Those are beautiful!

I rarely take time to comment but I do enjoy your blog very much. :)

** Terramia ** said...

Adore this idea... looks fabulous!

Shelley said...

Gorgeous pillows! Even though my fav color is purple, I like the first one pictured the best! Just lovely!

Patty said...

Wow, those are gorgeous!

Stephanie Coop, said...

Really, really neat. You put these together in such a cool way. The buttons add a lot too. Awesome!

tlc illustration said...

Janet, these are terrific. I'm sure she'll be thrilled - and what an equitable trade! :-) That's bartering at its best.

Donna said...

You did great! I couldn't be more pleased. I love what you do with the buttons.

Janet Bernasconi said...

I just wanted to say that I absolutely love the pillows! I also design pillows and I must say your idea is unique and beautiful.

So glad I came across your blog by chance!

All the best to you,
Janet Bernasconi
www.janetscreativepillows.com
www.makeminepink.com

Robbie said...

You are most welcome! I only regret not negotiating some kind of finders fee for myself. ;-)

Your work is beautiful and speaks for itself. I'm glad the suggestion to Donna worked out for both of you.

I enjoy your blog tremendously.

Carol R said...

Your pillows were so lovely and clever. What a lucky girl she is going to be. How sweet will be her memories when she looks at those graceful pillows. Carol

amandajean said...

these pillows are so beautiful. what a great way to use the handkerchiefs. I have a bunch sitting in a cabinet that I should use someday....

how do you attach them? do you stabilize them or just sew the edges of the hanky to the base fabric? or do you fuse them?

June said...

I finally figured out why I haven't been able to comment with Blogger for about a million years it seems and hope this comment goes through. Anyway, wanted to say I think the pillows are awesome.

weirdbunny said...

Oh I need to go and het lot's of hankies to make some of these !

janet said...

Wow, look at all the comments—I should post pillow pictures more often! Thanks everybody!

Robbie, email me your mailing address and I'll pop a little surprise in the mail for you :)

June, welcome back—I wondered where you'd been!

Amandajean—the hankies are simply sewn in along the seam and then secured with just the buttons. I like the loose layered look and don't think it's necessary to stabilize the back. Although really sheer hankies don't work very well for this purpose.

Kanwal Jit Kaur said...

I find your site and creations very interesting. I am doing fashion designing from LASALLE College of the Arts Singapore. As part of my Level 2 task I need to write creative process journal on "Where are all the handkerchiefs of yesterday".

I have also started blog on this topic http://yesterdayhandkerchiefs.blog.com.

I will appreciate your remarks/suggestions on this topic.

Donny said...

PRECIOSO LO QUE HAS REALIZADO ,MUCHAS IDEAS LINDAS.
ESTA BUENO PARA HACERLES A MIS AMIGAS DE REGALO.

vikki said...

Thanks for such good ideas. I too was given a pile (but not 144) of hankies from my aunt. I have kept them wondering what to do with them. I will get to making some cute pillows for my sisters, my daughter, and my granddaughters. Thanks again.

Gaynor said...

You are so clever!,wish I could sew!

Home Furnishing said...

Lovely they look fabulous

Sarah said...

This was on pininterest and I just had to take a look- such fab idea! I am just starting sewing projects this year and plan to make a cushion for my sister's birthday, this would be a fab idea, she loves vintage and I am going to an antiques fair this wknd...I will be lookingout for hankies!!

janet said...

Hankies are one thing you can still buy cheaply at flea markets and antique fairs - sometimes by the boxful! Good luck!