Monday, August 8, 2011

Hanky Primer #3: Embroidered and Petit Point Hankies

Photos are copyrighted and may not be used without my permission!

I have written 2 previous blogs on hankies. I need to cover a few more things.  I am not covering lace wedding hankies as that is a VERY complex subject.  You have to know different kinds of handmade laces before shelling out $50 to $300.  There are bargains to be had on eBay, if you know what you are doing.

This primer is about embroidered hankies.  There is very little written on collecting embroidered hankies, and I feel that sharing a huge amount of photos is the best way to educate you on hankies.  Many people are concerned about where a hanky was made.  I am more concerned about the quality of what is in my hand, rather than whether it still has a label attached.   However, if you're not able to judge well, buying hankies with a label is a way to start a collection.  

A collection doesn't have to be 300 hankies--you can just purchase a dozen to put in that antique box.  Think about your guest room.  What do you have in the nightstand drawer?  A box on the dresser?  How about that top drawer in the dresser.  Wouldn't it be amazing to open it up, and have a wonderful display of hankies in there.  Think about being a guest, and you've gotten up too early, because you're on a different time zone.  You've already read the magazines in the room, enjoyed the water and snack left on the desk.  You don't want to disturb anyone, but every drawer in the dresser is laid out with all these gems!

Who cares if they think you're the crazy hanky lady.  It's alot less work than the crazy cat lady.

Click here for Primer #1, and here for Primer #2.  Click here for using hankies under centerpieces at a wedding.   On more linens, here is a link to using antique tablecloths at a wedding.

I do petitpoint myself, so admiring fine petitpoint and embroidered hankies was a natural extension of that.

Don't forget to click on the hanky if you want to view an enlargement.
Petit Point Hankies
I have only found Switzerland stickers on petit point hankies.   They may be made elsewhere, but I've not seen other labels.  The fabric used to make petit point hankies tends to be a linen or cotton lawn fabric.  

The photos below have 3 hankies.  The quality of all three are very high.  Check out the workmanship.  The edge is very well done.

Pansies are very popular to collect.  Think about the Victorian era and the popular flowers then--and you'll find them on a hanky!

This is a wonderful hanky.  I've shown a tiny spot in the photo, but it is inconsequential based on the beautiful work--and the fact that it is embroidered in 4 corners.

This is a combination of petit point and crewel embroidery.  It is very common to combine the techniques.

This poppy is very well done.  The floral spray is very large, worthy of the best collection!

This is a wonderful hanky.  I sometimes wonder if a hanky with drawnwork isn't made in China.   So I look for high quality work.  This passes the test.

Awesome work!  Iris is a wonderful old-fashioned flower.

Poppies are a popular theme too.  Great quality, nice colors.

I love the fact that there is a simple rose in each corner.  Nice quality, even though it is only one tine rose in each corner.

Violets are popular, they fly out when I find them.
Wonderful made in Switzerland hanky set.   I love the tiny colored embroidery.  Notice the edging isn't as high quality is Madeira hankies.

Crewel Embroidery Hankies
These are made all over, from Switzerland to the Philippines.   Again, look for quality in the workmanship. They are works of art, so look for the thoughtful design.
Nice work,  quality embroidery.  This gets a thumbs up.

I totally love this hanky.  It's definitely one of my favorites!  There is a border woven into the fabric,
an interesting design.  I sure hope I kept this one... it's got to be somewhere.

These 3 hankies are a good quality.   The center hanky is interesting--you often find a single rose the the stem going from the center of the hanky.

This hanky says "ALL COTTON" MADE IN SWITZERLAND.  It's a nice quality of heavy crewel embroidery.  You can feel the difference--it is not on linen.  Notice how the bouquet starts in the corner.  I'm baffled as sometimes they make the spray upside down.

This one is a favorite!  Don't you just love the garden scene someone did?  I think this was amateur embroidered, but very well!

This is a wonderful hanky with applique bows, and bullion technique embroidered flowers. 

Beyond cute! Between the little bird and the flower faces, who could resist?
 I took the label off because I washed this adorable hanky.

Good quality, extremely fine work, great quality cloth. A real winner.

Very heavy embroidered pansies on a cotton cloth.  It's sort of boring as the decoration is small,
but I liked the work because it is very well done crewel.

The cloth is very distinctive--made in Switzerland.  The embroidery is a nice quality.  I've
seen this fabric on a lot of Swiss hankies.  It's almost like a mini-calico printed linen.
One caveat is that the edge isn't as nicely done, it looks machine-finished to me.

Great quality on the flowers, but this is machine made. I wish I had taken a photo of the back.

Interesting, looks like someone did one petit point flower, and then switched.  It's a really fine quality linen cloth.

This is an interesting boxed set.  They always charge more if there's a box.  I got the set because I loved the birds.  Isn't it cute!

Very Victorian Basket.  The crewel rose is well done, as is the basket.  However I don't think the flowers
are a great quality. The overall look is nice.

Machine embroidered silk flower.  Really nicely done for a machine! It looks like a Royal Society Silk embroidery.

I totally love these!  Any hanky with an animal is a winner for me!

Hankies with Embroidered Borders

Embroidered borders often wind up as a bridal hanky or gift.  They can coordinate with wedding colors and are great for the bride that hates lace--and you can't find a monogram.
Both of these are winners.  The work is amazing.   Hard to find!

I've seen work like this with Madeira, Switzerland and China stickers.  Look for quality work.

Similar to the 3 above, but likely Madeira.

Possibly Hong Kong or Madeira? Similar to the 4 above.
These tend to be sold as Appenzell.  If they have the grey pencil underneath that doesn't wash out, I wonder if they are from Hong Kong.  These don't, the two top ones are more elaborate expensive Appenzell.  They often sell on Ebay as pulled thread hankies.  I did see one on Ebay once with an Appenzell sticker.

Madeira Organdy

Made in Switzerland. Superfine quality.  Check out the work that went into attaching the border.  Hard to believe you can pick this up on Ebay for under $20.  The original price was probably around $75.

Beautiful quality work! Swiss.

Totally fabulous border! Almost always Swiss.
Madeira Applique, Shadow-work and Embroidery
Madeira hankies are very distinctive. While they are best known for the monograms, there are some very fine floral hankies.

This has applique leaves, organdy inset--alot of work. A little funky for me.

Really fabulous high quality embroidery.  Notice how the bow has an organdy insert--right through the border. I think the wheat stock is unusual. Probably has some meaning to be included in a bouquet.  Notice the border.  When you have a hanky that has a border woven into the fabric, it is almost always a more expensive hanky.

Fantastic hanky with embroidery in every corner.  Could be Madeira, could be Swiss.  The edge is hand-rolled and hand-hemmed.
You want that.  Newer ones are machine hemmed.

OMG!  Isn't this cute.  Living in rain country (Portland, Or has only 60 sunny days/year)  I had to have this one!
It's a Madeira hanky.  Notice that it has a border woven into the fabric.

Has the Burmel label, made in Madeira.  The most common look in Madeira floral hanky.

Slightly less elaborate than the previous Madeira hanky.

Another applique hanky.  The applique rose was enhanced with embroidery to give it more of a 3D look.

Maderia 3D Organdy Applique Hankies

These hankies are really fun.  Some collectors look only for these.  

Really fun hanky--stuffed cherries.

This hanky had the original Madeira sticker.  Tough to find.  Love the grapes!  Definitely a show hanky!
Isn't it wild!   

I have to say this is my favorite---what an unusual motif!

Great blue roses!

Monster pink rose!
Care & Cleaning of Hankies
 Sure, you can throw it in the laundry in a laundry bag.  I know, most people think that's sinful.  Just don't put it in the dryer.  If you don't put them in the laundry bag, they wind up going the way of the missing sock.  I will actually iron them while they are still damp.  That's about 10 minutes out of the washer. 

For serious hankies with lots of embroidery, just soak in the laundry tub for 5 minutes to 5 days in Biz.  They'll come out good as new.  I rinse with a bit of vinegar to make sure all the soap is out.   I never use starch with linens, they say it attracts bugs.  The reason I don't like starch is it gets on my iron and is nasty to clean up.  If you must use starch, spray it on the reverse side of the item you are ironing. I prefer to use sizing (not as heavy as starch) if I've got trouble with an embroidered piece that isn't squaring up.  Don't forget to iron it embroidery side down with a (once) fluffy towel underneath.

I don't know if I've inspired you to collect hankies.  Think about carrying an emergency hanky in your purse. It can be folded up in your wallet or makeup bag.  It's much smaller than a pack of tissues, and alot more durable.  I'm not a blow-you-nose kind of girl, but I am a cry-baby, so even if it's a just a bad pollen day, I'm not going to dab my eyes with a pile of lint from a tissue that has started to fall apart in my purse.  Besides, it dries in-between sobs, hee hee.

A vintage shoe-holder used to display print hankies.

Here are the links to all of my hanky articles:
Hanky Primer #1 Monogrammed Hankies
Hanky Primer #2 More Monogrammed Hankies
Hanky Primer #3 Embroidered & Petitpoint Hankies
Hanky Primer #4 Appenzell & Appenzell Style Hankies

You can find me from time to time selling antique linens on Ebay: antique-monograms-- I need to share some of my fabulous finds, I don't have room for more!


  1. They are all so special it would be hard to chose a favorite. I guess I would almost pick the rose. Please drop by my blog for a give away this week. Thanks, Richard from My Old Historic House.

  2. really wonderfully amazing collection....

  3. these are absolutely stunning. I've been fortunate to find some similar to yours recently in some thrift stores

  4. They are just awesome as I am from India will I be able to get it? I am in love with them.