Collecting and Repurposing, Vintage Floral Print Handkerchiefs

Vintage floral handkerchiefs are/were another one of those lovely items which grandma had and I coveted.  From time to time I would be gifted one or two of them which I would use as, little girl “fashion accents”, or flashy “scarves” for dancing, magic tricks, or juggling acts. One of my favorite things to do with them was to lie flat on my back with a hanky draped over my face, inhale as deeply as possible, and slowly, blow a strong steady stream of breath which would lift the sheer floral wonders into the air like a graceful bird, and I would lie still and watch as it came back down, just as gracefully as it went up.

I have a collection of them now, so I started thinking about all the things you can do with these floral beauties. I’ve seen them used to make baby bonnets, small handbags, children’s clothing articles, dream pillows, quilt tops, lavender drawer sachets, and my favorite is a window treatment with each hankie joined to it’s neighbor with a vintage mother of pearl button at each corner. As much as I would love to have a window treatment made from them I could never bring myself to put the delicate cotton in a window to be exposed to the daily rays of the sun, and be forced to watch as they deteriorate, Nooooooooo!!!!
I have used them in my reconstructed clothing designs but have never used one which was in perfect condition, I just can’t bring myself to cut them if they are in good shape.

Here are a few from my collection, these are the ones which are in “near perfect” to “good vintage condition”

It’s said that looking at gardens and quilts (and other stuff like babies and puppies) can give a serotonin release, or endorphins, or dopamine or one of those brain chemicals that make you feel good and contribute to your well being both mentally and physically. I imagine grandmas hankies fall into that list, at least they do fr me.


I knew a woman in the late 1970’s early 1980’s who started a line of lingerie using vintage hankies, she made bras, camisoles, baby doll PJ’s and panties from the squares and triangles.

Below, is an example of my use of a, not so perfect, hanky to make a dress bodice. The imperfection was cut away from the center.


I had a vintage wrap around skirt made of vintage scarves, which I had found at a garage sale, most of the scarves looked to be from the 1940’s. Judging by the “garment” construction the wrap around was probably made in the 1960’s or 70’s. It was lovely! I attached it to a vintage slip and added a halved hanky to the top bustline then positioned some vintage cotton lace trim for straps. This dress became a wedding dress in a hand fasting ceremony.


This is the back view… The vintage scarves were so scrumptious!!


I also added another almost matching hanky to the hemline.


This is a camisole top made from lots of sweet, vintage floral print fabrics, including a vintage hanky as the “featured” top ruffle.


Here are some partial pictures of another scarf dress I found thrifting. It is from the 1970’s or very early 80’s. I found it, as is, in such good condition I had to scoop it up.

This dress is a great example of a gorgeous bohemian style 1970’s or 80’s halter dress made from rayon, and vintage scarves. The bodice of the dress is a soft rayon, with adjustable shoulder ties, the waist band is a stretch cotton band, and the skirt is made from vintage silk and nylon scarves, set on point to create the beautiful handkerchief or butterfly style hem line.







Thanks for reading…




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