repurpose vintage handkerchiefs into a quilt

After amassing a collection of vintage handkerchiefs, I wanted to group my favorites into a quilted wall hanging. Being a quilter and a lover of vintage textiles, I always try to incorporate vintage textiles into my quilts. This is the second post on the quilting phase of this project.  I’m having fun quilting different designs, mostly feathers, in ways which enhance the design on the handkerchief. Using decorative threads, and fancy stitches on my machine has made the tedious quilting fun! This quilt is the inspiration for a workshop I will be offering.


I begin by having the decorative corner of the handkerchief sewn into the block. I have also used a crochet trim I’ve sewn into the seam on two of the sides of the block.


Using painter’s tape, I tape the crochet edge out of the way so I don’t catch it with my sewing machine needle as I quilt. I stitch a “spine” with my sewing machine to establish the line for the feather.


I sew feathers along the line I stitched. Using a straight pin, I pin each side of the handkerchief to hold it in place as I quilt.


I snake feathers around both sides of the design. Next, I use variegated thread and a decorative stitch around two sides of the square. This is a great way to use colorful threads and the fun stitches on your machine.


Some of the crochet trim scallops didn’t want to lie flat. I used a tacking stitch with matching threadon each scallop to hold it in place. A tacking stitch is a repeated zig-zag stitch held in place, ie – the stitch length is zero, while the stitch width is set to 2 or 3. I allow about 6-9 stitches back and forth to establish this tacking stitch.


A final touch to this block is tacking the sides of the handkerchief down with a small basket stitch. I didn’t like how the sides were slightly puckering after quilting the feathers. This helped the block lie flat.

How about one more?


Using a small basket stitch, I stitched along two sides of the handkerchief using matching white thread, excluding stitching around the blue flower.


I stitched feathers around the sides of the handkerchief. I outline the blue flower in white thread with little curly cues at each “v.”


I continued the curly cues in the white space below the flower as well to help flatten out the rest of the block. I framed the block in a matching blue thread using a decorative stitch.

Want to see more?

View my previous post with other examples of quilting hankies with crochet butterflies in the corner!

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