Love Old Hankies

I absolutely love old hankies. And I love to dye them. There is nothing like pulling a bit of color out of my purse or pocket on a cold dreary day to wipe my nose!



They remind me of my dad. He carried white ones like these. When I find a bunch of these at thrift shops I grab them. I can always use another hankie. I’ve been using cloth hankerchiefs for years now. I can’t believe I ever carried around disposable ones.




The other day warmed up so I got together my stash of these old hankies, and dyed them.




I found out quickly that all but one were a cotton/poly blend. The one that is cotton really took the colors well. The colors were deep, and what I expected.




Polyester was invented in 1941 by two British scientists in England. In 1950, Dupont bought the rights to make it in the US, and it was introduced to the American public in 1951. It was advertised as a miracle fiber that could be worn for 68 days straight without ironing, and still look presentable!

I’ve found in the past when dyeing hankies, many of the ones I thought were vintage, were not that old and are part polyester. If you are not familiar with fiber reactive dyes, they do not dye polyester. If you look closely you can see that some of the fibers didn’t dye, and so the colors are more muted than the cotton hankie.



Here is an all over shot of one of the above hankies.


It’s pretty, but not as vibrant as I was expecting. Also, the red and orange took over all of the space so very little of the blue dyed the piece. Reds are known for being the “bullies on the playground” in that they strike or hit the surface first and don’t allow the blues any space.

This hankie I had stamped on years ago. I never really liked it white so I overdyed it with Mustard. Now it is really my favorite of the batch!


Now I have more hankies to add to my stash. Even though they didn’t turn out as bright as I was hoping, they still are colorful.



I was interviewed recently by Cate Coulacos Prato for her article, Bit by Bit, in the newest issue of Quilting Arts Magazine. Cate interviewed four of us about how we use scraps in our projects. She included two of my pictures: one of my storage area and a bag of scrap projects. It was an honor to be interviewed for this article.

I’ve written several articles for this magazine over the years, including the very first article on ice dyeing. If you’ve never seen Quilting Arts, check it out. There is always a lot of inspiration in those pages.





We are having another cold spell – this last one was “blackberry winter.” Tonight there is a freeze warning so luckily Dave didn’t plant any tender plants yet.

Hope you are staying safe and healthy. See you next time. For more inspiration, check out Off The Wall Friday.