How to Make a Handkerchief – Easiest Method

Learn how to make a handkerchief. Fabric handkerchiefs are great for the environment and are lovely to make for presents. Handkerchiefs are really easy to make since they are essentially a square of fabric which small hems on the edges. Use up some of your scrap fabric to make handkerchiefs of all sizes and colors and give lots away!

How to Make a Handkerchief

How to Make a Handkerchief

Best Fabrics for Handkerchiefs

The best fabric from which to make a handkerchief is anything soft and natural. Cotton is the most commonly used fabric along with silk. You will find that anything with a polyester blend will not be as absorbent which essentially defeats its purpose.

Choose a lightweight and soft cotton such as cotton voile. Fine linen is also popular and may be labeled handkerchief linen in your local fabric store. Make sure you pre-wash the fabric to remove any stiffening agents or chemicals which may irritate your nose. You don’t have to buy fabrics, look at what you have in your cupboard to upcycle.

There is no best color to use although white of course will show dirt more easily. On the other hand, white handkerchiefs can be soaked in bleach to return them to a brilliant white. Consider interesting patterned fabric or fun colors that match your mood. Plain fabrics are best if you want to add embroidery or monograms.

Supplies To Make DIY Handkerchiefs

Here are the other supplies you will need to make a handkerchief

  • Thread – All purpose thread works well for a large variety of fabrics
  • Scissors
  • Ruler or tape measure
  • Sewing pins
  • Iron
  • Sewing machine or hand sewing needles

Handkerchief Sizes

A standard handkerchief size is 12×12 inches (30.5×30.5cm) but any sized square will do the same job. Many store bought handkerchiefs can be larger or smaller.

CUTTING – Choose the size you would like to make and then add a ½ inch (12mm) seam allowance all the way around.

Suggested Cutting Sizes for Handkerchiefs:

8×8 inches (20x20cm) 9×9 inches (23x23cm)
9×9 inches (23x23cm) 10×10 inches (25x25cm)
10×10 inches (25x25cm) 11 x 11 inches (28 x 28cm)
11 x 11 inches (28 x 28cm) 12 x 12 inches (30.5 x 30.5cm)
12 x 12 inches (30.5 x 30.5cm) 13×13 inches (33x33cm)
How to Make a Handkerchief Cutting Chart

How to Cut a Perfect Square

If you have a rectangular piece of fabric and want to cut a square here is the easy way to do it.

  • Fold one edge up into a triangle, making sure that it is a 45-degree angle.
  • Measure the side to make sure it is the correct size.
  • Cut off the excess.
  • Open and you have a perfect square.
How to Make a HandkerchiefPin
How to Make a Handkerchief – Cutting a Square

How to Make a Handkerchief

If you are really in a hurry or adverse to sewing, the edges could even be left raw. Otherwise here is how to make a handkerchief with either a sewing machine or by hand stitching.

Step 1 – Press the Hems

Press the raw edge up by ¼ inch (6mm) and then ¼ inch (6mm) a second time to form a narrow double fold hem. For cotton or linen, if the hems are a little stubborn, use a water spray to set them flat. Silk should only be pressed with a pressing cloth in between as direct contact may leave marks.

Step 2 – Pin the Edges

Pin all the way around to hold the hems in place.

Step 3 – Stitch the Edges

Machine or hand stitch around the edge of the hem.

Machine Stitching – Using an all-purpose presser foot, stitch with a short stitch length of 2.5 close to the inner fold. For the best results, use a matching thread so your stitching will not be noticeable. I only use a contrast so you can see my stitching.

How to Make a Handkerchief with a MachinePin
How to Make a Handkerchief with a Machine

Hand Stitching – The easiest hand stitch is a running stitch that uses a simple up and down motion. The smaller your stitches, the stronger your hem will be. Use a matching color thread for best results.

Start by threading a needle with double cotton and knot the end together. Bring the needle up in the fold so the knot will be hidden. Stitch in small running stitches – up, down, up, down.

How to Make a Handkerchief by HandPin
How to Make a Handkerchief by Hand

Decorative Hand Stitching

Blanket stitch can be used to make an attractive contrast hand stitched border.

Blanket Stitch EdgesPin
Blanket Stitch Edges

Decorative Options for Handkerchiefs

Once you know how to make a handkerchief you can leave it plain or decorate it. The 2 most common ways to decorate a handkerchief are using lace trim or embroidery.

Embroidery for Handkerchiefs

Embroidery can easily be done using a small hoop and some inexpensive embroidery floss. You will need an embroidery or crewel needle for the thicker threads. Monograms, names and phrases can easily be sewn using a running stitch or backstitch.

Read more about embroidery letters and the best stitches to use. Letters are popular to add to handkerchiefs for weddings and special occasions.

embroidery lettersPin
Embroidery Letters

Embroidery Roses are a popular theme and can make a feminine handkerchief for yourself or for a gift. Common stitches to use are satin stitch, seed stitch, backstitch for outlining and blanket stitch.

How to Make a Handkerchief with Embroidery RosesPin
How to Make a Handkerchief with Embroidery Roses

How to Make Lace Handkerchiefs

Lace edging is a popular option for handkerchiefs. Learn how to sew lace trim. As well as on the edge, lace can be sewn on the surface of the handkerchief. Cotton laces wash better and are softer than polyester ones. (Types of Lace). Lace is best attached using a zig-zag stitch that catches in the edges.

How to Make a Handkerchief with LacePin
How to Make a Handkerchief with Lace

How to Make a Handkerchief – In Conclusion

Making a handmade handkerchief is inexpensive and easy and makes a beautiful personalized gift for your loved ones. Know you know how to make a handkerchief you can make a small bundle and tie them up with a ribbon.

How to Make a HandkerchiefPin

How to Make a Handkerchief

Easy tutorial on how to make a handkerchief with a machine or by hand.


Difficulty: Easy Beginner

Keyword: Sewing Patterns


  • 1 Square of Fabric 13×13 inches (33x33cm)


  • Cut the fabric in a square. Your square should be 1 inch longer and wider than your desired finished size.

  • Press over the raw edges by ¼ inch then ¼ inch (6mm) again to form a narrow double hem.

  • Pin the edges.

  • Stitch around the edges with a machine or by hand sewing.

  • MACHINE – Use an all-purpose foot and a short stitch length.

  • HAND STITCHING – Stitch the edges using a running stitch or backstitch.

  • Optional – decorate the handkerchief with lace or embroidery.

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