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New Project/Hanky Quilt

goodstudent's picture

Hi everyone,

I would appreciate advice for my attempted project - a quilt using vintage hankies - I have collected enough to make at least a single size bed.  What should I consider before starting?  What materials should I use? Should I hand or machine sew?  I am a sewer, however, have not made a quilt. Any advice would be most appreciated.

Edited 1/26/2003 8:33:51 AM ET by goodstudent

mjean23's picture

(post #24456, reply #1 of 13)

I also have a nice collection of fine linen handkerchiefs that I've been saving for a quilt. I'm not much of a quilter, either, but my plan is to sew them onto consistent-sized squares of cotton batiste or some other Swiss cotton, and then to assemble the quilt top using lovely ribbons along some or all of the seamlines. I'd use a bias binding of the same high-quality Swiss cotton. My only indecision is whether to use a puffy batting or my regular all-cotton batting that will shrink a little an make an antique look. I think I'm leaning toward a soft, puffy batting if I can find something in cotton. Only as a last resort would I use polyester.

Good luck! I, too, would like to hear if someone has already made a quilt like this and what they would suggest.

goodstudent's picture

(post #24456, reply #2 of 13)

Thank you Nick.  This has given me a starting point.  I like both of your ideas for the seams. Should further helpful information come my way, I'll be sure to pass it along.  Thanks again.

bwineland's picture

(post #24456, reply #3 of 13)

I have made a hanky quilt using my Mother's handkerchiefs from her collection.  I appliqued them on blocks all of the same size, then put alternate blocks of the solid background in between.  I used soft fluffy polyester batting.  I quilted it on the center of the hanky block with my embroidery machine quilt design then quilted the rest also using my embroidery machine's quilt designs. 

My mother passed away 3 years ago in October and the quilt was made from my sister's half of the hanky collection by me,  for my sister's 50th birthday.  My sister was surprised and thrilled.

Yours will be beautiful too!

goodstudent's picture

(post #24456, reply #4 of 13)

Thank you Barb for your suggestion.  If my sister were to give me a quilt with as much meaning as you gave, I would be just as thrilled as your sister was.  My collection of hankies almost tops 300.  They are various sizes and a number of them are quite delicate because they are truly antique.  These are the ones that worry me. I probably will not use them unless there is a way of treating them first.  This I haven't explored yet. Your suggestion for the alternate squares is a good idea.

Regards,  goodstudent

sarahemily's picture

(post #24456, reply #5 of 13)

How about a framing some of the most delicate, old hankies?  Perhaps they could be folded in such a way that several could be in the same frame.  I framed a pulled thread piece from my great aunt that was truly gorgeous.  I backed it with dark velveteen so that the design was truly enhanced.  It hung in my mom's bathroom until she passed away and now it is mine.  I cherish it.  It was framed professionally to protect the fibers, etc.  If you have several children that someday would need to divide and/or share, framing some of the hankies would be easier to distribute (and enjoy) then only one very fragile quilt.  (It was my idea to "divide"  Mom's wedding band and the rings that she always wore so that every daughter (2)and niece (5) had a ring or stone that Mom wore every day and loved.  It also required a very understanding jeweler!)  I also have some hankies from my mom but am not ready to make any decisions yet.

goodstudent's picture

(post #24456, reply #6 of 13)

I will consider framing the delicate antiques, thanks.  Your distribution of your mother's ring is a wonderful way of honouring your mother.

homebody's picture

(post #24456, reply #7 of 13)

I have seen a lot of hanky quilts in my decorating magazines. The hankies are usually backed with a light muslin square the same size as the hanky, then these squares are sewn together as a quilt. For your most delicate hankies, have you considered framing each one under glass and making a wall display of them?

goodstudent's picture

(post #24456, reply #8 of 13)

The decorating magazines you referred to, would I be able to purchase any now?

I am seriously considering framing the delicate ones, thank you.

In your travels through the decorating magazines, have you ever come across a quilt made of crochet doilies?  I have collected around 400 or so, thinking one day, if my hanky quilt is a success, I would do the same with doilies.

homebody's picture

(post #24456, reply #9 of 13)

Yes I have seen quilts made of doilies. I subscribe to tons of decorating magazines for sewing ideas. The doilies are hand sewn onto muslin squares and the squares put together by machine. I collect retro tablecloth materials from the 40's and 50' and like to cut these up to make quilts. They look great in a "cottage style" decor. I will keep my eyes open as I browse through this month's collection of magazines and get back to you.

goodstudent's picture

(post #24456, reply #10 of 13)

That's very thoughtful of you, thanks.

Baker_ia's picture

(post #24456, reply #11 of 13)


I am more of a quilter then a clothing construction but wandered into the web site and found your notes. There are several books out on using doilies in quilts. One is a heart design cutting the doily in such a way that it looks like a heart on the background .   If you go the and do a search for doily quilt. They did a show on Simply Quilts about this.

Have fun


goodstudent's picture

(post #24456, reply #12 of 13)

They say one learns from their mistakes.  Wrong. I'm computer illiterate and did something to the computer (I don't know what), consequently I couldn't submit a reply to you right away.  Even this site is a challenge to me.

The fact that there are sources for quilts made from doilies is very encouraging.  I attempted to follow through on the address you gave, however, I failed in locating anything regarding doily quilts.  I would appreciate the name of a magazine or book with directions for this type of quilt.

Baker_ia's picture

(post #24456, reply #13 of 13)

Hi  Well the Simply quilt show that the doily quilt was on was Simply Quilts Episode 565 Romancing The Quilt

So if you go to HGTV's web site and put in that episode number you will find info about doing doily quilt Hope this helps out more in finding the info.