Handkerchief Craft Ideas: An Embroidered Doll Dress Tutorial
The holidays will be here before you know it, so now is the time to get started on handmade holiday gifts. There are several handkerchief craft ideas out there that transform the everyday handkerchief into a work of art, and this project is no exception. Is there a little girl in your life you would like to make something special for this Christmas? If so, you’ll love this sweet project, which upcycles a handkerchief with the addition of machine embroidery and recycled trim.
Embroidered handkerchief tutorial
We used the companion doll dress pattern found in the Girly Gown from Hope Sew Patterns. The pretty white Madeira appliqué border at the top of the pattern is included in the pattern directions. We incorporated a sweet handkerchief in the skirt portion of the pattern to help our princess feel extra special.
- Girly Gown pattern
- Romantic Hearts & Bows embroidery collection
- One or two Pineapple handkerchiefs
- Black and white batiste cotton fabric
- Rayon or polyester embroidery threads
- Mesh water-soluble stabilizer
- Embroidery software program
Some notes on fabric:
During my travels to teach hands-on workshops, I am often asked about types of fabrics, fiber content and color choices. Well color is in the eye of the beholder, but fiber content can make or break a project, especially when creating something with an heirloom feel.
I always choose a fabric that is made from 100% natural fibers, such as cotton, lawn, linen, rayon, silk, wool or a blend of the fabrics mentioned. For heirloom projects, such as the doll dress, I chose batiste fabric. Batiste is a plain weave fabric that is very lightweight, slightly opaque without an acid finish, resulting in a high quality smooth fabric. Common types of batiste range from high to low end: Swiss nelona, pima cotton, Victorian batiste (lowest quality).
Some notes on stabilizer:
The most common form of stabilizer is probably a tear-away stabilizer. When using slightly sheer fine fabrics (as in the handkerchief) or translucent fabrics, you don’t want to use a tear-away stabilizer because only a portion of the stabilizer will tear away from the stitches, leaving the rest of the stabilizer trapped in your project. If you are using sheer or translucent fabric,s this would be unacceptable.
There are two types of water soluble stabilizers: a clear and a mesh. As a general rule, I always use the mesh type for machine embroidery, hooped underneath the fabric, and the clear as a topper to float on top of the fabric that is hooped.
Prep the handkerchief. If there are embroidery stitches above the pineapple crochet lace corner, use a seam ripper to remove them so there are no stray stitches above the crochet corner. Spray the handkerchief with starch to preshrink and stiffen.
On the computer, use the designs flw2, flw3, RoseSpray from the Romantic Hearts & Bows embroidery collection, combining, resizing and rotating, to create the layout you like for the handkerchief.
You can use one handkerchief to create a sweet faux apron, as shown in the first photo. If doing so, so arrange the designs so they arc above the pineapple crochet corner. Save and embroider.
Perhaps you want more lace showing. If so, use two handkerchiefs, arranging the designs similar to the photo seen below.
Once you have everything laid out, go ahead and embroider the design using mesh water-soluble stabilizer. When the embroidery is complete, use plain water to remove the stabilizer. Ring out the excess water by rolling the hanky in a terry towel. Lightly spray with starch and iron, upside down, on a towel so the embroidery stitches float on top of the hanky. I always iron my machine embroidered projects upside down on a towel because this sets the embroidery stitches, creating more depth and texture on top of the fabric.
To finish the doll dress, follow the directions found on the Girly Gown pattern. Add the embroidered hankies on the skirt front as desired.