I am not good at hiding my distaste when I don’t like things. I make a face that Joelle affectionately calls “the Molly Meter” when I come across something that doesn’t appeal to me.  One day at Purl Patchwork we received a box full of fabric from Yuwa that contained bolt after bolt of what I felt were beautiful prints, until I pulled out a bolt of sheer fabric from a line called Feather Garden and the Molly Meter went off. I thought it looked so old-fashioned, fussy and busy…  I put it away on the shelf with my nose in the air.

But as the days passed I found myself continually drawn to the sheer texture and intricate print of the fabric. Instead of thinking, “eww it’s so old fashioned and busy” I started thinking “ooooo, it’s so reminiscent and detailed.” To make a long story short I started to love it. Like really love it. Like I wanted to buy it in every colorway and sew a bed out of it. 

Instead of doing that, I decided to make handkerchiefs. I am a big proponent of the handkerchief. They are lovely and useful, they reduce paper waste and they are soft and easy on your nose. Much like the fabric they’re made of they are very “reminiscent and detailed”.  I used a delicate herringbone stitch around the edge and cross stitched my initial on the corner, and even though they are entirely hand sewn they didn’t take very long. -Molly 


Cut and Press


Wash, dry and press your fabric. 

Cut four 12-inch squares from the Feather Garden fabric. (It is possible to cut six 12-inch squares out of a yard but you will have to be really exact. I find it much more realistic to cut four. If you’d like some advice on using a rotary cutter, be sure to visit our rotary cutting tutorial.)



Iron a 1/4-inch fold at the top and bottom of the square. Then do the same for the left and right sides as pictured above.

Repeat this ironing and folding once more. There will no longer be any raw edges showing. 


Instead of using regular pins to keep the seam in place, which would be painful during the embroidery process, secure the corners and centers of each side with safety pins.

Prepare Thread


Thread the embroidery needle with a 20-inch length of embroidery thread. Tie a simple, one loop knot leaving at least a 3-inch tail. You will hide this tail later.


Put your needle through the bottom edge of the hem, from the wrong side, coming out on the right side.


Pull your thread through. Above is a picture of the long tail on the wrong side. Again, you will hide this tail later.

The Herringbone Stitch 

The herringbone stitch is worked from left to right, however the needle is often stitching from right to left. Even though that may seem a little counterintuitive it’s quite simple once you get the hang of it. Remember to take your safety pins out as you come to them.


Turn your work around so the right side is facing you.

Push the tip of your needle through your fabric approximately 1/8-inch from the top of the hem and 1/4-inch to the RIGHT of where your needle came out in the last step.

Take a stitch that is approximately 1/8-inch long horizontally to the LEFT. Pull your thread through, but do not pull it tight. Since you are not using an embroidery hoop it’s up to you to keep the tension even.


Next push your needle through the fabric approximately 1/8-inch from the bottom edge of the hem and about 1/4-inch to the RIGHT from where you last pulled out your needle. Then, poke the tip of your needle 1/8-inch horizontally to the LEFT of where you stuck it in. Pull through the thread through, again make sure it’s not too tight.


And now just start again from the beginning. 


Above is a picture of the herringbone hem after a few stitches.


And here you can see how the herringbone stitch is catching both the top and the bottom of the folded hem.

Below is a demonstration of the herringbone stitch on graph paper.  The odd numbers represent where the needle comes out and an even numbers represent where the needle enters:






Oh and here is what the back should look like:











Make sure to sew through all the layers to secure your corners. 

And start a new left to right row at the beginning of each side.




On the back side of the hem make a small knot right at the point where your thread comes out of the fabric.


Pull the needle through the bottom edge of the hem, making sure it doesn’t poke through to the front of the handkerchief.  Snip your thread.


Now find the tail you left at the beginning of the row and thread it. Pull your thread through the bottom of the hem and snip it, just like you did for the end of the row.

Once you’ve hemmed and finished all the sides the back should look neat and tidy, like this:


And the front should look like this:



The cross stitch monogram on the corner of the handkerchief is entirely optional, but it’s a very easy way to personalize something. I put an “M” on my handkerchiefs but you could certainly try any letter or number you please.

Cross Stitch 

Below is a brief lesson on how to do very simple cross stitch. I am by no means a cross stitch expert so this may not the official way to do things, but works for me.

On the graph paper below, the odd numbers represent where your needle comes out and the even numbers represent where it goes in:

Here is how to cross stitch if you’re making a row that’s going up:





Repeat this in the next square above until you have a row of your desired length.


The back should be two neat vertical rows, no crosses.

And here’s how to do rows that go down:



The Monogram 

Draw a 1-inch letter at the corner of your handkerchief with a water soluble fabric marker.


Cross stitch the letter using the pen mark as a guide. It’s a lot harder to cross stitch on something that doesn’t have a grid so take your time placing each stitch. To cross stitch diagonally just follow the instructions for either the up or down row (depending on the direction you’re going) but place your #1 point diagonally from your #4 point instead of above or below. Make sure not to pull too tight. 

Once you’re done with your monogram carefully weave in the ends in the back. Spray with water and iron to get rid of the blue marker.


All done!