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  • Writer's pictureLonda

Vintage Hanky Curtains

Updated: Jun 20, 2022

For my ‘Memory’ guest bedroom, I decided to make use of precious hankies from my childhood. ‘Secret Pal’ hankies that I’d received each year on my birthday in a card from my ‘Secret Pal’…always an exciting envelope to open, are important hankies evoking fond memories on these curtains. Many of the other hankies are ones I played with while sitting at my mom’s vanity. I distinctly remember opening her upper right vanity drawer and the cloth-covered box full of beautiful hankies inside.

finished curtains

I also made the sheer curtains themselves, deciding on a pure white, as it set off the colors in the handkerchiefs better than the very cream-colored option.  

After constructing the curtains themselves, I laid them side-by-side in our family room on the carpet. It became obvious at that point, that with varied sizes of the hankies that there could be no regular spacing between the hankies. My oh my, this took alot of pinning!

My decision to place the hankies ‘on point’ led to infinitely more work than I ever imagined. placed diagonally, ‘on point’, the ‘drag’ of the woven fabric on the bias made each and every one of them, regardless of fiber, stretch mercilessly, as you can see in the photo at the left. I found the only way to manage this tendency was to stitch (artfully, of course) with monofilament thread in the needle (Microtex 60), through the entire centers of each of the hankies. Even complete, upon close inspection, you would see some diagonal bias ‘drag’. 

The center side hemming was completed after the hankies were stitched on. This double-turned side finish is shown in the photo below.

I wish I had handled the other side hem similarly, but I had already stitched those outermost side hems before stitching on the hankies. One learns as they go when sewing without any directions.

The lowermost doubled hems were also turned and stitched before I placed the hankies. I cut the hankies longer by 1″, allowing for turning in twice and hand-stitching to finish.

The tie-backs feature yet another precious textile, as they are tulle I had kept from my mother’s wedding veil. I actually just even found the (somewhat melted) orange blossoms from the headband that held her veil, and added them to cover the cup hook that holds the tiebacks to the side window. I have a memory of her giving me her wedding gown, saying “You’d be the one to do something with this someday.” And, indeed, I have! Some hand-crocheted ecru lace from my vintage collection finishes the look.

While designing these curtains, I had the idea of using solid hankies that had hand-crocheted border edgings for the upper rod pocket and headings. Here is a close-up, but stay tuned for the step-by-step directions in my next blog post.

In future posts, I’ll share more of my ‘Memory Room’ components. As I’ve worked on my room, I’ve often had the thought:  “If only I could have my Mom back from heaven here with me – for just an hour – it would be a precious time to share with her what I’ve done with things she gave to me.”  I know her heart would be warmed and that I’d get a big ‘Atta Girl’ hug, but also I chose to believe that, that visit being impossible, that in some way …. from up above…. she ‘sees’ and appreciates my memories and what I’ve done with the sewing skills she gave to me.

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