I had seen the book online and put it on my wish list – Hankie Couture by Marsha Greenberg (Running Press Book Publishers, 2011). The author, a designer and sewist, has created dresses and other outfits for fashion dolls (like Barbie) from handkerchiefs, and also created this delightful book to tell about this adventure and share a few tips. “I have handkerchiefs,” I said to myself, sensing that I stood on the brink of another inspiring yet impulsive tangent. I was not the least deterred by a reviewer’s comment that the book did not contain patterns for every outfit pictured. Without even seeing the book, I immediately understood that the style of the outfit was going to depend on the hankie and one’s own creative sense. “All I’d need is a couple of bodice patterns and a few tips,” I thought to myself – not that I would ever be in this author’s league.
My plan was to wait until the price of the book went down, or possibly buy it as a used book – not because I’m poor but because that’s what I do. But one day on a refresher visit to Jo-Ann’s, I spied it on the book rack looking all new and appealing. I picked it up and leafed through it, silently ooh-ed and ahh-ed over the beautiful doll dresses, and then set it back on the shelf. I was able to resist momentarily, but as I stood in front of the remnant cart, I heard the book calling me: “Come on! I’m a brand new book – not even shop worn. My price isn’t so bad. Put me in your cart. You know you want to. You probably even have a coupon that will make me half price or something.” (It’s just a good thing I don’t have any serious addictions.) In six steps I was at the bookshelf and the book was in my cart.
So, the book came home with me and is every bit as charming as I thought it would be. Seriously, I would enjoy this book as leisure reading even if I didn’t have an interest in experimenting with hankies. But of course, I did want to experiment and that’s why my hankies came out of drawers, boxes, and trunks to be spread out on a bed and carefully considered.
The issue is, of course, do we want to cut up the vintage textiles? Or specifically, should I make doll clothes from my hankies? An online search proved what I suspected: you might find hankies at flea markets and thrift stores for cheap but online sellers seem to expect $8.00 to $12.00. While I’m not an online seller, the value of the hankies does influence my decision as to their use. Upon deliberation, I removed from consideration those that were identified as keepsakes and put them away. I also removed one designer handkerchief – a Faith Austin on a dragonfly theme. (I’ve never heard of her either but I found Faith Austin handkerchiefs online and they weren’t giving them away.) And then, not every handkerchief is appropriate for the project. Some are too small. A 12” by 12” is recommended.
In the end I still had plenty of hankies I could play with. I selected 8 or 10 good candidates for doll outfits, several of which were old or less appealing samples that would be great for initial experiments.
So it’s off to the sewing room. Let the experiments begin! KW
[Photo 1: Book cover.
Photo 2: Too large for a handkerchief, I believe this to be a small scarf or bandana. I love the vintage colors and would never cut it. I don't remember it, though, and don't know where it came from.
Photo 3: An example of a larger handkerchief, possibly a neck scarf like teen-aged girls wore in the '50s. It was probably left in some drawer I inherited from one of my sisters.
Photo 4: The "Faith Austin" designer handkerchief. While I'm not drawn to it, I recognize it as special. Dragonflies are meaningful to me.
Photo 5: Lastly, a selected collection for experiments.]