Wednesday, November 4, 2015

A Gift a Day Gift Two (and Three): Embroidered Handkerchiefs

This is a gift that will be being given to my husband and son.  I embroidered two handkerchiefs with the first letter of our last name and tried to make them decorative but more "male oriented" colors, so they wouldn't be too girly for the men in my life.

I made one handkerchief with a bigger B than the other to show, in my own special way, not only which handkerchief belongs to who, but also to show my love for my husband and little man.

When it comes to embroidery some people will hold a print out of what they want to embroider and put a piece of cloth in front of it at a sunny window and trace the design onto the cloth with a quilting pen or something similar.  I can't really call myself "artistically talented" but one thing I can do well is copy by eye what I'm looking at (I call myself a natural forger ;), so I just free hand my embroidery designs onto the cloth with a ball point pen, as lightly as I can so it'll wash out without any problems.

Also, you can note above the difference between DMC embroidery floss and the "other guys".  I got the embroidery floss for my husband's handkerchief as part of a big batch of embroidery floss from the used stores.  My son's I went and matched the colors as closely as I could using DMC floss.  The DMC floss didn't shrink at all.  My husband's handkerchief I washed in cold water by hand and the floss shrank, so I have been working on reducing the wrinkled appearance of the embroidery.  Annoying, but not much to be done about it (the darker parts of the handkerchief that has wrinkles is where I wet the fabric down pressing it to try and get the wrinkles to be less obtrusive).

I got the design for the letter B from HERE and like I said I just free handed it onto the handkerchiefs.

I outlined the B's with stem stitch and then filled the letters in with varying lengths of satin stitch.

If you are just beginning in embroidery, don't worry about filling in your work.  Work on getting stem stitch down and just outlining the letters and such to make them pretty.  Trust me, stem stitch isn't hard and to stop your work from puckering, use good embroidery floss (exhibit A above) and get yourself a good embroidery hoop to hold the work tight and you're good to go.

For a quick visual on what some basic embroidery stitches are you can check some of them out HERE.

For the handkerchief's themselves I used some blue fabric scrap that I had and cut two squares that were 9x9 inches (when done they were 8" squares as I added 1/2 an inch on each side for a seam allowance).  I then did a double folded quarter inch hem seam on the sides (fold the fabric 1/4 inch over and then again, to hide any exposed ends within the fold) and stitch as close to the edge as possible.

You can, if you have time and patience, make a really super thin seam around the handkerchief by hand, but since these were going to be handkerchiefs that will be used in regular rotation with other handkerchiefs, I didn't see the point in doing that and went for a more functional tough seam instead.

If you want a more in-depth tutorial for making a handkerchief you can go Here (although they use a 1/2 inch seam allowance instead of my 1/4 inch).

Total Cost to Make Gifts:  Nothing as I already had the material.

Total Time to Make Gifts:  About 2 hours per handkerchief between cutting them, sewing them and embroidering them with distractions (read kids) in between.  Oddly enough I found I'm pretty quick at embroidery.


  1. Beautiful embroidery work, Erika! I love that you copy by eye...that is quite a talent! I just made an embroidered handkerchief for my SIL this week, using a piece of white flannel (I thought soft and absorbent might be nice for a tender nose). It turned out nice but it was definitely more difficult to embroider on flannel than cotton sheeting.

    I used to cross-stitch but I taught myself to embroider a couple summers ago and picked it up very easily. Since then, I have taught many others how to embroider (not bad for a self-taught person). Personally, I love the freedom of creativity I get when I embroider. I often go on Pinterest and find pictures of embroidery I like, then look at the stitching they used to create it. Then I trace out a very simple free-handed outline (with pencil) that I embellish and add to as I stitch. The outline is mostly for positioning, a general guideline to follow and to give myself an idea of sizing. Everything I create is always a one of a kind piece this way!

    Thanks for sharing your beautiful creations and the link. I'm sure your husband and son will love them!!!

  2. Soft flannel I would think would DEFINITELY be appreciated on a sore nose :). I can imagine trying to embroider it though. Well worth it in the end I'm sure.

    I actually started cross stitch when I was 12. A lady who got her hair done at the same place as my grandma struck up a conversation with me about cross stitch and I told her I'd love to learn. So she brought me in a cross stitch kit for "Footprints" and a lot of things to get me started. I owe her a lot for making me realize how much fun it could be.

    I then went into counted cross stitch heavy for years and started making my own designs on graph paper that I wanted to do. I've done some pretty intricate things in counted cross stitch over the years (including a full cover of a book complete with sunset!), but when I found embroidery THAT's when I found true love because like you I found it so freeing creativity-wise. I'm no longer limited by the need to stick to a graph and can just out and out create with the embroidery. Love it! I think I learned about the same time as you did as well :).

    I normally just do drawings and then shade them in with embroidery and such when I want to make something, but of my big weaknesses and always has been? I can't do lettering worth beans *laugh*. It used to stump my art teachers terribly as I would struggle with letters but could draw out a face in ten minutes or so. So until I can somehow grasp how to make my own lettering that looks awesome, I just use the templates online ;).