Do You Want To Make A Hanky: Come On, Let’s Go

Hankies, often seen as a relic from your grandparents time. Yet, they were onto something. Your grandparents are from the generation that knew how to live frugally and waste little.

There’s no need to waste resources and money on tissues when a hanky can do the job and only needs to be purchased once.

27,000 trees are cut down every day just to make tissues.

Tissues are just not sustainable for the environment or your wallet.

Now, of course, there is a time and place for tissues such as infectious disease and settings such as hospitals requiring single use items.

Otherwise, a hanky will do.

Clean hankies are useful not just for drippy noses in cold weather, but also for:

And, whether you use hankies or tissues, you must have good sanitary habits – we all now know about the virtues of hand sanitiser and hand washing.

How To Make a Hanky

Materials Needed

A hanky is essentially just a square piece of fabric that has been hemmed to stop the edges fraying.

The best fabrics are those with made from a natural fibre as they are the most absorbent.

Suggested fabrics:

COTTON: cut up and use an old sheet.

FLANNEL: old pyjamas cut up into squares would be perfect.

LINEN: here an old tablecloth will do the job.

Fabric Preparation

Wash, dry, iron and cut your fabric into squares.

We had a sheet rip. I mended it and it ripped again. It’s now time to turn it into hankies.
Iron the fabric to prepare it for cutting accurately into squares.

After the fabric has been washed, dried and ironed, it’s ready to cut into squares.

Sizing Guide

  • Small: 28 cm square
  • Suit coat pocket: 33 cm square
  • Large hanky: 40 cm square

For ease of use, I use my husband’s metal ‘square’ ruler from his work shed and a rotary cutter. However, any ruler and a pair of scissors can be used to cut squares just as well.

The fabric is ready to cut into squares.
A fabric square ready to hem.

How To Hem The Fabric

The easiest way to hem the fabric is to use a sewing machine foot designed to roll hems.

Note the ‘roll’ in the middle of the foot.

Admittedly, the roll hem foot is not something I’ve used often (my machine is around 28 years old), but it is very useful for a particular job – rolling hems.

If you haven’t sewn with a roll hem foot before, there is a bit of a trick to using one.

You need to create a tail on the corner of the fabric by sewing backwards and forwards on the one spot.

The ‘tail’.

The tail allows you to feed the fabric through the roll part of the sewing machine foot.

Using the ‘tail’ to pull the fabric through the roll of the sewing machine foot.
Roll hem, front view.
Roll hem, back view.

Sometimes it helps to watch a video showing a new technique, depending on your learning style. This video is very easy to watch with clear instructions.

If you don’t have a roll hem foot, don’t despair as you can also create hems with an iron. Simply fold the fabric edge and press with an iron, then repeat.

Perhaps you are a much more skillful sewer than I am and can machine or hand embroider initials or even a picture such as a flower on the hanky.

Perhaps, sewing is not your thing?

Many stores sell hankies at a reasonable price. Have a look on eBay, AliExpress, or the Australian sustainability shop Biome.