This post first appeared on Homespun Seasonal Living where I am a contributor.
These DIY flannel hankies are sure to become favorite homemade and frugal resources around your home for cold season and everyday use.
Upcycle Flannel Shirts Into Handkercheifs
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Handkerchiefs, also known as hankies, are hemmed squares of fabric. People carry them for hygiene reasons, or display them in a suit jacket pocket as a fashion accessory.
Making them yourself from flannel shirts is a wonderful sewing project for beginners. Practice sewing straight lines by following the lines on the flannel. There’s no problem if you go astray because the edges will fray over time to hide any imperfections.
The most common use for handkerchiefs to to blow your running nose. Men traditionally carry hankies and offer them to ladies as a chivalrous act. Here are some more handkerchief uses you may not know:
- A soft cloth to clean your glasses
- Cover your mouth for a makeshift dust mask
- Wipe sweat from your brow
- Coaster for a hot or cold drink
- A washcloth for bathing
- Sustainable toilet paper
Reasons to Use a Handkerchief
Handkerchiefs are more sustainable than tissues, especially if you upcycle them from flannel shirts. Give the flannel new purpose, and use them over and over again.
They not only save on waste, they save money too. Tissues, and toilet paper if you use hankies as a replacement, are expensive to purchase. This quick sewing project will reduce your shopping expenses.
Hankies are also more gentle on the skin than paper tissue. The flannel is soft, and you can be assured there are no chemicals or unwanted additives on them.
Supplies to Make Handkerchiefs from Flannel Shirts
- Flannel shirt (Used or Thrifted)
- Coordinating thread
- Rotary cutter
- Cutting Mat
- Acrylic Ruler
- Ironing Board
- Sewing Machine
Choose a flannel shirt from your closet or the thrift store. The larger the shirt, the more hankies it will yield.
How to Upcycle Flannel Shirts into Handkercheifs
First, you will need to take the flannel shirt apart to get the most fabric squares possible out of it.
Begin by cutting off both sleeves where they meet the rest of the shirt with sharp scissors. Set these aside for now.
Then cut the front where the buttons meet the collar and straight across the shoulder. Repeat for the other side.
Next, cut straight across the back of the top of the shirt.
Cut up both side seams to create three panels of fabric.
Now cut off all hems. These can cause the fabric to bunch and pull, so it doesn’t lie flat for cutting squares.
Take the sleeves, and cut along the seam all the way down. Then cut off the cuffs.
Look at your pieces and think about how you can cut as many 8″ x 8″ squares as possible from the fabric. A men’s size large shirt will yield 8-10 squares.
Now your hankies are ready to sew. Stitch around the perimeter of each square with a 1/2″ seam allowance. If your machine can do special stitches, a stretch zigzag stitch will allow the fabric to lay flat and hold up best over time.
Continue sewing the perimeter of each square until they are all stitched.
You successfully upcycled a flannel shirt into a set of handkerchiefs! You can follow a similar process to make rice hand warmers out of flannel shirts too.
Caring for Your Handmade Handkerchiefs
Wash and dry your handkerchiefs as you normally would. This process will cause the flannel to fray around the edges over time.
The more you use them, the more rugged look they will take on, but the hankies will not fray beyond your line of sewing.
Don’t forget to pin this project for later, and check out the other zero waste sewing projects listed below.
- Flannel Shirt
- Coordinating Thread
- Cut off sleeves with scissors.
- Cut down seam of sleeves.
- Cut off cuffs.
- Cut across shoulders from buttons.
- Cut across top back of shirt.
- Cut up side seams.
- Cut off all hems.
- Press all fabric pieces.
- Use a rotary cutter and cutting mat to cut as many 8" x 8" flannel squares as possible.
- Sew around each square with 1/2" seam allowance.
These hankies are meant to be rustic. The more you use and wash them, the more the edges will fray.
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Brother XM2701 Lightweight Sewing Machine, White
BEAUTURAL 1800-Watt Steam Iron with Digital LCD Screen, Double-Layer and Ceramic Coated Soleplate, 3-Way Auto-Off, 9 Preset Temperature and Steam Settings for Variable Fabric
OLFA 1135484 RM-MG NBL Cutting Mat, 24x36, Blue
Fiskars Classic Comfort Loop Rotary Cutter (45mm), 1, steel and orange
Gingher 8-Inch Knife Edge Dressmaker's Shears
Coats 15 Spool Assortment Thread