How to Make a Handkerchief: by Hand or Machine

Last Updated on December 31, 2023

As a passionate sewer with a box full of fabric scraps, I understand the difficulty of discarding beautiful fabrics.

In today’s project, inspired by the sentimental value of handkerchiefs passed down by my grandmothers, I decided to create something special and environmentally friendly – embroidered handkerchiefs.

Here I will guide you through the process of making handkerchiefs and introduce new embroidery stitches along the way.

How to Make a Handkerchief


  • Turn fabric scraps into cherished handkerchiefs inspired by the sentimental value of family heirlooms.
  • Explore the therapeutic benefits of hand-sewing, offering a more relaxed and mindful sewing experience compared to using a machine.
  • Learn new embroidery stitches like the bouillon stitch, stem stitch, and scrap boss running stitch to add a personal touch to your creations.
  • Embrace the eco-friendly aspect of reusable handkerchiefs, contributing to a more sustainable and mindful lifestyle.
  • Create unique handkerchief designs that reflect your style, preserving memories with every stitch.

How to Make a Handkerchief

How to Make a Handkerchief

To make a handkerchief, cut a 25 x 25 cm square from cotton fabric scraps, iron the edges, and either machine or hand-stitch the seams. Add personalized flair with embroidery stitches like bouillon and stem stitch, creating a unique and eco-friendly accessory.

Materials Needed

  1. Cotton fabric scraps (25 x 25 cm square)
  2. Needle and thread (matching or contrasting)
  3. Embroidery floss (optional)
  4. Scissors
  5. Iron

Step 1: Cut and Prepare the Fabric

Cut and Prepare the Fabric
Cut and Prepare the Fabric

Start by cutting a 25 x 25 cm square from your chosen scrap fabric. This size is ideal for a standard handkerchief. Once cut, iron back the edges to create a neat and clean foundation for your embroidery.

Step 2: Machine or Hand Stitching

Machine or Hand Stitching
Machine or Hand Stitching

Decide whether you want to use a sewing machine or hand-sew your handkerchief. Topstitch the edges by machine or use a running stitch for a handmade touch.

Secure the open edges with a running stitch for a hand-sewn handkerchief and use an invisible stitch to close the seam.

Step 3: Embroidery Stitches

1. Bouillon Stitch:

Bouillon Stitch
Bouillon Stitch
  • Decorate the corners of your handkerchief with a bouillon stitch.
  • Wrap the fabric around the needle around 10 times and secure with a single stitch.

2. Stem Stitch:

Stem Stitch
Stem Stitch
  • Draw a pattern in the corners and use the stem stitch to outline it.
  • Perform a back stitch, pulling the thread through the loop with each stitch.

3. Scrap Boss Running Stitch:

  • Use a brown embroidery floss to enhance the top stitching with scrap boss running stitches.
  • Combine scraps, running stitches, and cross stitches for a textured effect.

4. Cross Stitches:

Cross Stitches
Cross Stitches
  • Create a cross stitch secured with a back stitch for a classic touch.
  • Repeat cross stitches and running stitches until reaching the last but one stitch, finishing with a scrap boss.

Step 4: Final Touches

As you complete your handkerchief designs, take a moment to appreciate the unique patterns you’ve created. Feel free to experiment with different embroidery stitches and colors to make each handkerchief one-of-a-kind.


Can I use other fabrics besides cotton for making handkerchiefs?

 While cotton is a popular choice, you can experiment with different fabrics based on your preference. Just ensure the fabric is soft and comfortable for everyday use.

 Is hand embroidery difficult for beginners?

Not at all. The embroidery stitches in this tutorial are beginner-friendly. Start with simple stitches like the running stitch and gradually move on to more intricate ones as you gain confidence.

How do I secure the ends of the embroidery floss when using the running stitch?

To secure the ends, make a small knot or weave the thread through nearby stitches on the reverse side of the fabric. This ensures a clean finish without knots showing on the front.

Can I personalize the handkerchiefs with initials or names?

Personalizing your handkerchiefs with initials or names adds a special touch. Use embroidery floss in a contrasting color and employ stitches like satin or backstitch for clear and legible letters.

How do I care for embroidered handkerchiefs?

 Hand wash your embroidered handkerchiefs in mild detergent and lukewarm water. Gently press out excess water and air dry. Avoid using bleach or harsh chemicals as they may damage the embroidery.

Can I use pre-cut fabric squares instead of scraps?

Pre-cut fabric squares work well for this project. Feel free to explore different sizes and colors to create a variety of handkerchiefs.

Are handkerchiefs only for personal use, or can I gift them?

Handmade embroidered handkerchiefs make wonderful gifts! Consider gifting them for special occasions like birthdays or weddings or as a thoughtful gesture to friends and family.

How long does it take to make one handkerchief?

The time it takes depends on your sewing and embroidery skills. On average, completing one handkerchief may take a couple of hours, making it a perfect weekend or evening project.


Whether you choose to sew by hand or machine, crafting handkerchiefs allows for a personalized and relaxing sewing experience. Embrace the nostalgic charm and environmental friendliness of reusable handkerchiefs. Share your thoughts in the comments, and happy sewing!

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