Nothing to Sneeze At

Obsess much girly? Yes.

If you have been keeping up with my recent listings in my etsy shop, The Unique Bird, you may have spotted my new found affinity for vintage handkerchiefs.
It is no secret that I love to combine vintage printed fabrics in quirky ways but the handkerchief angle was a direction I had yet to explore.

It all started one day when I was trying to come up with centerpiece ideas for my little sister's wedding reception.

Photo by Jill Thomas and styled by Amorology Weddings found on Style Me Pretty Blog.

Of course, vintage hankies centered under the flowers on the tables. Each table will have a different one and it will save me from having to sew something for each table, because the edges of the handkerchief will already be finished or have a pretty trim.
So, a few bids on Ebay and I became the proud owner of a lot of lovely hankies.

I couldn't stop there because I knew I was going to need quite a lot...

Who knew vintage handkerchiefs were such a big business. There are loads of lovely ones out there but wow can they get pricey. I have been out bid on so many lots but I have to keep the wedding decor budget in mind.

So I want to know is, who is buying all of these handkerchiefs and what are they using them for?

I know that the obvious use of the handkerchief is to blow you nose or wipe away a tear, wash and reuse. I salute those who still do this but I can't bring myself to
a) shove a piece of fabric back into my pocket that I just got snot all over.
b)I can't bring myself to get snot all over these pretty little pieces of fabric.

Image from JennyDee's etsy shop.

In fact, since I am such a nerd I even looked into the history of the handkerchief.
Their use has been documented as far back as (87-57 BC) according to this article by The Crafty Wench.

But The handkerchief didn't become a lovely fashion accessory until the 16th century.
I also found out, from this online article from Fashion Encyclopedia, that it is rumored that in the 1700's the fashion icon Marie Antoinette was frustrated that this chic accessory was offered in so many shapes: round, oval, rectangular, etc. so she had her husband, King Louis XVI of France, make a law that handkerchiefs were to be made in the shape of a square only.

This is an image of Marie Antoinette and her children from Wikimedia

I guess I have always had romantic visions of the handkerchief. Ladies waving adieu to their loved ones...not sneezing all over them.

Above image is a lithograph from a book that I have from 1928 by the Colgate-Palmolive-Peet Co.

So what could I make these little beauties into so they weren't sitting unused, sad and alone in a drawer somewhere.
(Who knows though, with their current popularity on Ebay, I might be able trade them like currency at the grocery store.)
I came across this group on Ebay. I thought the colors and patterns were fantastic so I bid on them and won.
I knew they weren't quite right for the wedding decor so I am thinking about some little pillows.

When I saw this lot I instantly knew I had to have them. The colors are so spectacular. In the Ebay photo they almost looked like sun faded brights or garment dye, but no, these colors are original and look perfect together.

So the question was, what to do with this great group? They had to stay together to maintain the impact of these colors. I was then inspired by this photo.

How beautiful is this table runner composed of layered various doilies that I also found on the blog Style Me Pretty?

So I thought why not give it a try with my hankies.

I was so happy with the way that it turned out. This is a perfect, one of a kind spring/summer table runner.
Next on the agenda...incorporate the hankies into my design for reusable vintage fabric wine bottle wraps.

They were a perfect fit. This one is called "Easy Being Green"

This one is called "Soft Sophistication".

Each one of the wine bottle wraps using the vintage hankies are also one of a kind handmade creations because you can only make one tie from each handkerchief.
See more of these wraps in my "Hostess Gets The Mostest" section in my etsy shop.

This is another idea that I have been working on. A lovely little clutch, using a hankie.

I added the wrist strap and really think the concept is cute but it still needs some work to make it a little more production friendly.

Last up is this listing, "Okey Dokey"
The concept of framing the hankie is a bit more conventional but I think that this particular piece isn't something you will find just anywhere.

I found this fun little rosette created from vintage printed hankies sold by Daffodildoll on etsy.

And this cute tote using a vintage handkerchief is sold by Gramasattic also on etsy.

So many lovely new ways to use these vintage handkerchiefs, and I am sure there are loads of other great ideas out there too!
In my opinion these great repurposed pieces are nothing to sniff or sneeze at.

Adieu for now!


  1. I want to live in Prettyville! It's not so far! :) Your blog is so cute, Sarah, just like you! :)

  2. I didn't know vintage handkerchiefs were a hot commodity either! Using them for wedding decor is a great idea.

  3. Beautiful!!! Love the table runner - it's so fitting for the weather that we're just starting to get a peek of!!