Vintage Hankie Quilt

Vintage Hankie Quilt Tutorial, so clever!

Today I’m going to show you how to make a Vintage Hankie Quilt, and tell you the story of who I gave one to. Last summer my sister had a baby, this little angel who I have yet to meet.  At her baby shower last summer I had wanted to give her something handmade but ran out of time before we left to visit her to make anything.

I wanted to make something unique for her, but was stumped for a while. I remembered that I saw this project in the Martha Stewart Sewing Book a year ago and knew I wanted to make one.

Vintage Hankie Quilt Tutorial, so clever!

Last month I posted about this pile of vintage hankies that I picked up at the Country Living fair, and boy did I get alot of emails about them! I guess I really peaked your curiosity about what I did with them.

So to end the suspense, here’s the project, a vintage hankies baby quilt. It’s incredibly soft, totally one of a kind and perfect for little ones to snuggle up in! Especially since I backed it in super soft chenille (which I should have washed before I quilted it, live and learn).

Vintage Hankie Quilt Tutorial, so clever!
Vintage Hankie Quilt Tutorial, so clever!

I’m very happy with how it turned out. It’s 12 9″x9″ blocks. I’ll share with you a little about how I made it.

Here you can see some of the vintage hankies up close. I fell in love with so many of them. Such cute colors and prints.

Vintage Hankie Quilt Tutorial, so clever!

When I bought them (they were $1.50 a piece) I went though a big “pile” of hankies, I looked for ones that were red or turquoise, to hopefully tie the colors of the quilt together.

Vintage Hankie Quilt Tutorial, so clever!

I love this one! (the center turquoise one) Such a pretty floral, someone please make a fabric like that! Then send me a sample for giving you the idea HA!

Okay to make the quilt…

You need to get all of your hankies the same size. To do this you either need to trim them down OR sew them on top of  another fabric.

Vintage Hankie Quilt Tutorial, so clever!

Most of my hankies were about 9″ -10″ square. I knew that I needed to trim off the hem on the edge (it would get too bulky), but I could not figure out what to do with the 3  6″ hankies that I had.  Then I realized that I had some Anna Maria Voile in my stash. It was perfect, it is close to the same weight as the hankies so it would not give the quilt an uneven feel.

Vintage Hankie Quilt Tutorial, so clever!

So I cut the voile to 9″ square then sewed the smaller hankie to the top to make the block. The smaller hankie I left the hem ON. I didn’t want it to fray, I just sewed right on top of the existing stitching line.

To finish it, I just sewed 3 across by 4 rows. Each with a 1/4″ seam and pressed the seams to one side.

It had Quilters Dream cotton as the batting and a white chenille for the backing (which was NOT hard to quilt on at all)

I just did a simple “stitch in the ditch” to quilt it together. I didn’t want any stitching lines to detract from the hankies.

It’s bound with white jelly roll strips.

Before I gave it to her I washed it (I like to wash most of the baby gifts, I think it makes them softer), and the chenille frayed off an stuck to the front of the quilt. After a washing or two this will stop, but in hindsight I would have pre-washed the chenille first.

That’s it! Isn’t she a beauty??? I can’t wait til I get to meet her.

If you like this project, you may also like the projects in my book!

Project Teen by Melissa Mortenson

Quatrefoil Quilt Pattern

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Melissa Mortenson is the author of the Polka Dot Chair blog which is in its 7th year of sharing fresh and creative ideas with readers. She is the author of “Project Teen, Handmade Gifts your Teen will Actually Love”. Her first fabric line “Derby Style” debuted in January 2015 through Riley Blake Designs. A mom of 3, she considers herself lucky to be living in Kentucky.


  1. says

    My grandmother recently tried to give me a bunch of similar hankies, and as beautiful as they are, I couldn’t take them because I didn’t know what to do with him. This is a GREAT idea! Thanks for the inspiration!

    • Shirley says

      Among my step-mother’s belongings were a lot of hankies. Her daughter, my half sister, is building a new house. I want to use those hankies to make a quilt for a housewarming gift. She will treasure it, I know.

  2. says

    She is a beauty, and what a special quilt. I’m sure it will be treasured for years to come. BTW, I have also learned the same lesson with chenille. :)

  3. says

    so so pretty! I have some vintage hankies of my mom’s and grandma’s, but I’m saving them up and can hopefully make a little collection. This is such a great way to put them to use! :)

  4. says

    too funny! I just wrote on my blog about vintage hankies, and here I see you have made a blanket! Well done too :) I have so often wanted to make one of these myself.

  5. says

    This is one of the best ideas that i have seen in a really long time. I have piles of vintage hankies that belonged to my grandma. Thanks for the inspiration. Your blog is awesome.

  6. Lynn says

    I have my grandmothers hankies. I guess there are at least 30 of them. All sizes and colors. I plan on making a quilt with them. That is if my daughter ever has kids (she’s 32 and engaged).

  7. Faith Espinoza says

    My mother gave me her old hankies. So I made them into a quilt for her. Only one year befor she passed away. Two of her great grandaughter now share the quilt. Need to make one more. They are so nice, will stay in the family for a long time. Also made a nice lable for it.

  8. Amy T says

    I just saw this quilt, along with your burp cloths made with the vintage hankies. I loved them! I have been collecting hankies for years, and some have been passed down from my Grandmother. I loved the pairing of White Chenille that you used for the backing of this quilt, I have been looking for just the right fabric to back one with. I agree with you on using stitch in the ditch as to not to detract from your hankies. Again thanks for great ideas. When I finish mine, I will send you a picture.

  9. Dora says

    When my grandma moved into a nursing home because of Alzheimer’s, I was given a box of hankies. I found out that she was in an exchange back in the 1940’s and 1950’s. There are hankies from all over the US. Most of them have the name and city, state of the lady that sent them to her. There is even 2 from Paris, France from the 1920’s. I have tried to come up with something to do with them besides just sitting in a box. This may just be the thing. Maybe not a baby quilt per se, but possibly a quilt to hang that displays the hankies.

    • says

      What a treasure!! That is an amazing keepsake to have of your grandmother. The hankies sound beautiful from what you’ve described. Have you thought of framing the hankies? I’ve seen that done before and they are beautiful hung on the wall.

  10. says

    I was looking for a way to make a hankie quilt for are newest to be grandbaby due AUG. looks like I can do this been saving hankies thanks for the ideal yours look great

  11. says

    I love this little quilt. It makes me want to raid my sister’s collection of antique hankies and run to my machine…Sadly, s
    he would object to me taking them.

  12. Laurie says

    Question – when you backed some of the hankies with the printed voile, did the print of the voile show through? If it did, did it matter? Some old hankies are very thin, as you know. Hope you can help me. Thanks

      • Laurie Priano says

        Melissa – thank you so much for your response. I should have come to you first!!! It would have saved me so much time on searching. I will look for some voile now and begin. Wish me luck!! Laurie

  13. says

    Love it! I have a huge pile of hankies that were my grandmothers and great-aunts and I have been wanting to make them into a quilt. I didn’t want quilt lines in them and that has been detouring me. 9 inches seems big are to not quilt, have you had any problems with the batting shifting-or does that kind not do that?

    • says

      I gave the quilt to my niece and I have not heard from my sister that it is a problem. I think you could research the batting a bit, I’ve made several quilts with 9″ blocks that are only stitch in the ditch quilted and not had any problems with batting ever bunching up. I always use 100% cotton batting, usually quilters dream cotton.
      Hope this helps!

  14. Patty Polmanteer says

    GREAT…I’m just starting this quilting thing (I think I caught the bug from a friend) and NOW I have to start scouring farmers/flea markets. Will it ever warm up so they open and I can get

  15. says

    If you don’t have access to children’s handkerchiefs, check at your nearest Amish store. They usually have quite a number of different ones, as well as ladies’ handkerchiefs. I’ve made 8 handkerchief quilts using vintage ladies’ handkerchiefs–3 for sons & their wives, 2 as 50th anniversary gifts, 1 as a wedding gift, 1 for ourselves, & was hired by a friend to make one for her using her handkerchiefs, & it was for her only granddaughter. I have put all of them on 19″ square blocks of white & hand-sew them, then use sashings & corner posts to set them together. Sometimes I’ve used 1930’s fabrics for that. Three of them were “themed” in that I used only handkerchiefs containing purple/lavender in one, blue in one, & red in another–the favorite colors of the recipients.
    Handkerchiefs have always fascinated me & I especially like “calendar” hankies. Years ago, in TN at a flea market, I found a calendar hankie of 1960–the birth year of one of our sons! Paid way too much for it but knew I would never see another–& I haven’t!
    I have also designed & made a quilt using ladies’ gloves, which is rather unique, but it was a lot of fun!
    I’m from the era when ALL ladies carried dress gloves & a hankie. Guess that’s the reason for my interest in those two items!
    Kathy East

    • says

      Thank you so much for the tips. I didn’t even think about sashing with corner posts, but I think I might try that one next. Once I dug though a whole box of vintage hankies looking for one with my birth year. I LOVE those hankies, you’re so lucky to have found them. Thanks for the tip about the Amish stores, we have a few here in Kentucky, I’ll have to keep my eye out.

  16. nancy mathews says

    I used a book called,”Hanky-Panky” Crazy Quilts by Cindy Brick about 15 yrs.ago. They are really 18″by18″ with a boarder & binding. My hankies were my mothers, aunt & g-mothers most of them have tatting or a crochet edging,beautiful.The hardest part for me to do was to cut them to fit & follow directions. I also decorated with a few meaning full embellishments. One of the hanky was my g-mothers last crochet hand work before she died. There was a note saying this,I put it on her hanky. On one of my mothers I put her mothers ring etc. I made this for my sister, she lives in TX. I wrote a complete story & put it in a pocket on the back. When she passes it is to be given to one of her daughters. I’m not choosing,LOL. I still have lots more, I like your idea. I do agree with some other comments, 8-9″ is quite a space to leave not quilted. Happy quilting.

  17. Jane says

    I collect vintage/antique hankies. It pains me to know you all are cutting them up. Children’s hankies are even more rare. They were used roughly sometimes, never as plentiful, the child often had only one, they got lost. You get the idea. Vintage Style Hankies, with these same prints can be purchased from China on EBay in lots of 30 or more so cheaply that it makes more sense to use these for quilts, tablecloths or whatever your heart desires. Once the actual “vintage” hankies are gone, there aren’t any more. The Vintage Style hankies will be there for crafting as long as we want. Please reconsider using your Heirlooms for crafts. You copy your pictures before using them in projects This is similar. Thanks.

  18. Ann Goodwin says

    I was glad to see a handkerchief quilt and how it would look finished. It is very pretty.
    I had quite a few handkerchief of my own but have bought more to make a quilt. I will be putting the handkerchief on a
    fabric square because my handkerchiefs are different sizes. I have every thing ready to do for 2 years. This makes me want
    to get started on this quilt. Thanks for sharing.


  19. says

    I am now not certain the place you are getting your
    information, however good topic. I must spend a while finding out
    much more or understanding more. Thank you for fantastic
    info I used to be in search of this information for my mission.

  20. Doreen says

    I can’t wait to start on this handkerchief quilt, can you please tell me how much of the voile was needed?


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