Hankies — Collecting

On my wedding day, I carried a hankie made for me by my great Auntie Gert.  On my tenth birthday, Auntie Gert gave me my first fancy lace and Irish linen hankie.  She explained in her card that she wanted every girl in the family to carry a hand crocheted linen hankie on their wedding day with her best wishes for a long and happy marriage.  Lovingly crocheted with a different lacy pattern for each hankie, given on the niece’s 10th birthday; she hoped each wedding hankie would bring a bit of luck to the blushing bride.  Auntie Gert knew she could not possibly live long enough to see all her nieces and great-nieces married so she gave each of us a little piece of herself that we could carry and remind us how intensely she loved each one.  Auntie Gert lived into her 80’s but not long enough to see me marry.  I carried that lacy hankie to dry my tears of happiness and thought of her carefully stitching the linen hankie, embellishing it with hand-made lace, and loving me unconditionally.

This one hankie started a love of hand-made lace for me. In the spirit of Auntie Gert,  I always seek out lacy hankies to give my nieces and friends’ children for their future weddings.

Once I started looking for and collecting them, all bets were off….Oh boy! There are thousands of styles; different colors, fabrics, makers, embroidered, not embroidered, lacy, not lacy, printed, plain, crocheted lace edges, tatted lace edges, and many uses.feb-2014-105.jpg

This dark gray hankie with white embroidery came from my former neighbor’s estate.  Originally bought because of the “N” to remind me of Nettie, I later learned it was a mourning hankie, used for funerals and wakes. How interesting that earlier ladies thought to carry a subdued color hankie for somber occasions.  The thought of only using it for that one purpose made me wonder how many other hankies carry particular meaning or purpose.

If you love the look of hankies but don’t know how to use or repurpose them, go on my hankie board on Pinterest and you can find ideas for using hankies for décor, sachets, headbands, flowers, quilts, etc.

The only problem is deciding which ones to use.  Do you choose a collection of similar color, similar style, similar size?  Do you go with a Bohemian style of all different colors, sizes and styles to add as much variety as possible?  Or do you decide on a monochromatic look with only white lacy hankies?  The possibilities create quite a quandary.

I prefer to collect, clean and press, gift or sell the hankies I find and let someone else rrepurpose these little treasures into home decor and personal items.

I intend to continue Auntie Gert’s gift of hankies for all our family’s brides.  The softness of a delicate linen hankie cannot compare to the roughness of a tissue when a bride sheds tears of happiness.

Do you still use hankies?


  1. I do! I inherited a bunch of very fine ones from my grandmother, and I continue her tradition of choosing only white on white worked ones. You’re right that it’s easy to go off on all sorts of lovely possible tangents (and I am frequently tempted) but so far I’m allowing her preference to guide my collection.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. So much time goes into pulling threads and stitching them, let alone creating the borders. Definitely a labor of love. I make them edged with bobbin lace and end up using them like little doilies. Your aunt’s love for you is evident in her work.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s