History: Antique & Vintage Hankies

A lady NEVER left home without a handkerchief in her handbag ~ that was back in the 1940s and 50s when women would dress in hats, gloves, silk stockings AND high heels just to “go to town!”  We’ve come a long way, baby ~ but, remnants of simpler times remain, case in point, the vintage handkerchief.

Vintage print handkerchief from AllVintageHankies.etsy.com

Vintage print handkerchief from AllVintageHankies.etsy.com

Gorgeous floral print handkerchiefs, in both soft pastels and vibrant colors, were carried by every lady. They were lovingly cared for by their owners and have managed to escape being tossed away, enabling us to enjoy them today. Thank goodness!

The history of the handkerchief is fascinating ~ and we’ll delve a little into it in my next post. We’re going to travel back to the 17th century for some tremendous facts about antique hankies.

I enjoy ALL handkerchiefs, even the ones with age-worn spots and even the tattered lace hankies, but I especially LOVE hankerchiefs made solely by hand from the 18th century.

Antique Applique Handkerchief from AllVintageHankies.etsy.com

Antique Applique Handkerchief from AllVintageHankies.etsy.com

In the example above, the amount of painstaking work that went into making one of these is astounding. Each tiny square was made by forcing the linen fibers apart with a sewing needle, also known as cutwork. The flower and leaf design is the applique work. Small swatches of cloth were cut and then “laid over” the linen handkerchief and stitched into place with hundreds of tiny stitches. The hem was rolled by hand, and again, hundreds of minute stitches hold the hem in place.

We’ll also be taking a look at numerous antique handkerchiefs from my private collection. I purchased them from a museum which was decommissioning an exhibit depicting a woman’s life from the 17th to the 18th centuries. Stay tuned for this one if you love antique handkerchiefs.

AllVintageHankies.etsy.com is an independent shop on Etsy featuring hundreds of antique and vintage handkerchiefs.

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