Handkerchief Art: Drawnwork

Picture this:  A woman in the mid-to-late 1800s, dressed in a high-collared, long-sleeved black, satin, full-length dress sitting at her embroidery stand patiently counting threads and painstakingly designing an elaborate handkerchief, like the one here:

SANY0067SANY0071 SANY0068

This outstanding example of handkerchief drawnwork may have taken MONTHS to complete! BREATHTAKING! Isn’t it? This handkerchief is from my collection and it is approximately 120 years old.

One of the pioneers of this type of handkerchief artistry was a woman by the name of Thérèse de Dillmont, 1846 – 1890. She was an Austrian needleworker and writer. She was raised and educated in Vienna and later, moved to France to begin a working relationship with DMC, a thread and embroidery floss company.

One of her greatest successes was the publication of Encyclopedia of Needlework in the late 1800s. The book was translated into numerous languages and distributed to dozens of countries. Below is a excerpt from her book on drawnwork:

‘The above heading comprises every sort of needle-work, to which the drawing out of threads is a preliminary. By sewing over the single threads that remain, and drawing them together in different ways, an infinite variety of patterns can be produced. Many pretty combinations also, can be made of open-work, cross-stitch, and other kinds of embroidery.

Materials suitable for open-work.—For all the coarser stuffs, such as Holbein-linen, Java and linen-canvas and the like, now in such favour for the imitation of old needlework, it will be best to use: Fil à pointer D.M.C, No. 30 and Cordonnet 6 fils D.M.C, Nos. 10 to 20, and for the finer stuffs, such as antique-linen and linen-gauze.


Single three-rowed open-work—This, and the following patterns, are suitable for the headings of hems, and for connecting stripes of embroidery, and are also often used instead of lace, and lace insertion.


Open-work insertion with spiders —The edges are to be herring-boned. In the middle, the so-called spiders are made, over every group of four clusters. The thread that runs out from the spider, passes over two clusters and under one, and then three or four times, over and under the clusters, as in darning, and so back, under the spider, at the place at which it was drawn in, and then on, to the next four strands of thread.’

And there you have it, a little information about how this lovely form of handkerchief art is accomplished.

If you would like to see other drawnwork handkerchiefs, please feel free to visit me at my shop on Etsy, All Vintage Hankies.

Until next time, friends.

Have an elegant day. xo

Wedding Handkerchiefs

We all know this age~old saying, ‘Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue…’ and the rest of the rhyme is…’and a silver sixpence in her shoe!’

This little ditty is thought to have originated in the late 1800’s Victorian England.

And, a bride’s ensemble would certainly be incomplete without the addition of a lovely antique or vintage handkerchief, like the ones below:


Breathtaking and exquisite in their beauty, just like the bride!

The antique or vintage handkerchief can fill the need of ‘something old’ or ‘something blue’ as there are many handkerchiefs with blue tatting around the edges or blue embroidery work like the ones below:




Giving the bride a gift of a handkerchief is something she’ll cherish. It may also be passed down to her daughter on her wedding day. What a thoughtful gift!  You will find hundreds of handkerchiefs at my shop AllVintageHankies.etsy.com 

An antique or vintage handkerchief is a gift that is affordable, will stay beautiful for years to come and remind the bride, not only of one of the happiest days of her life, but also of you!

Hope to see you soon at AllVintageHankies.etsy.com

Have an elegant day!  xo





Exquisite Antique Handkerchiefs

I have a passion for antique handkerchiefs. I think they are exquisite. Period. I can’t think of another word to describe them.

For example, the three photos below show a linen handkerchief with drawn work and embroidery work. The number of hours that had to go into making this piece, by hand, is unfathomable in today’s world. Take a look at the intricacy of the stitches.

Antique Handkerchief c.1800s from AllVintageHankies.etsy.com

Antique Handkerchief c.1800s from AllVintageHankies.etsy.com

Antique Handkerchief c.1800s from AllVintageHankies.etsy.com

Antique Handkerchief c.1800s from AllVintageHankies.etsy.com

Antique Handkerchief c.1800s from AllVintageHankies.etsy.com

Antique Handkerchief c.1800s from AllVintageHankies.etsy.com


I just came up with another word to describe exquisite antique handkerchiefs.

Imagine the woman who created this magnificent piece of art. I envision her during the Victorian or Edwardian era, sitting in a velvet chair near a window for good lighting. Her hair is fashioned into the Victorian curled upsweep. She’s wearing a silk moire gown. Before her is her standing embroidery hoop with this swatch of linen fabric sinched between the wooden hoops. With needle in hand, she pierces the fabric and begins to weave her magic. The result is the fabulous vision above.

I hope I can find some fellow handkerchief enthusiasts who share my passion.

If you love antique and vintage handkerchiefs, take a stroll through my independent shop in Etsy, AllVintageHankies.etsy.com, for a look at some marvelous examples of handkerchiefs from the 1800s through the 1960s and 70s.