How to make flowers from handkerchiefs

Updated April 17, 2017

Scavenge at local yard sales, antique stores or flea markets for vintage handkerchiefs to use for fashionable crafts. These square cloths were made for a utilitarian purpose, but the embroidery, prints and lace have made them a sought-after possession. Make peony flowers from handkerchiefs as heirloom brooches or special gifts for family and friends. Gather the supplies and share this keepsake project with family members at your next gathering.

Iron your handkerchief and lay it flat on your work surface. Cut a continuous spiral from the outer edge of the handkerchief to the centre. Begin on the centre of one edge. Cut 1 inch in and at an angle. This will create the 1-inch width of your strip. Continue to cut 1 inch from the edge. Taper inward 1 inch as you near the starting cut, and keep cutting in a spiral direction toward the centre of the handkerchief. You will have one long strip when finished cutting. The corner points will be longer than 1 inch and will form the long petals of the peony flower.

Thread a hand-needle with at least a 36-inch length of cotton. Knot the end. Starting where you made your first cut on the handkerchief, sew a running stitch along the inside cut edge, 1/4 inch from the edge. Sew the running stitch the entire length of the strip.

Pull the thread and gather the handkerchief along the thread to measure 8 inches long. Secure the end of the gathers with a knot, but do not cut the thread or remove the needle. This end will be the centre-beginning to your flower brooch.

Roll the centre-beginning end 1/4 inch toward the length of the strip. This is the centre of your flower. Roll the end for approximately 2 inches. Use the attached needle and thread to secure the gathered edges of the roll. This is the back of the flower. Continue to roll and stitch every 2 inches until you've rolled the entire length of the strip into a flower. Knot and cut the thread.

Stand a spool of thread on a scrap of felt, and trace around it. Cut out the circle. Turn the flower over with the back side up. Apply craft glue to one side of the felt circle. Center the circle, with the glue side down, over the gathered centre of the flower.

Apply craft glue to the back of a 1 1/2-inch pin-back. Place the pin-back horizontal and slightly above the center back of the flower brooch. Allow the glue to dry.

Things You'll Need

  • Vintage handkerchief
  • Iron
  • Scissors
  • Ruler
  • Hand-needle and thread
  • Scrap felt
  • Marking pen
  • Craft glue
  • 1 1/2-inch pin-back
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About the Author

Based in the Midwest, Cyndee Kromminga has been writing craft and interior design articles for 15 years. Her articles and craft designs have appeared in Crafting Traditions Magazine, Easy Holiday Crafting Series-House of White Birches Newsletter and Country Woman Christmas Books. Kromminga's education is in interior design and she has experience operating a craft and design business for more than 20 years.