Monday, November 10, 2014

Throw Pillows from Embroidered Hankies

I wanted to put on my blog how to make these lovely throw pillows.  I have already written about making bed pillows and pillowcases out of old hankies so here I will just give a few notes about these smaller pillows that are made much the same way.

Close up to show lace detail

Below are some of the pillows shown with the cut up hankies used to make them.  Mostly I used the lace from the hankies but also embroidery and cutwork designs.   Silk ribbon, 2mm and 4mm were woven into the lace or just glued on top of the finished pillows for embellishment.

Here are a few notes on these throw pillows:

Backing:  Hankies are usually very old and frail and don’t hold up to sewing and stuffing by themselves (especially stuffing with sand).  So I make the pillow from a solid color or tiny check fabric.  Then the hanky part is overlaid on the solid and sandwiched between the colored fabric layers (much the same way you would sew on a ruffle or piping).  This just means you have to position the piece of hanky between the right sides of the pillow before sewing so that when turned inside out the hanky will show.

Sewing: Just like the bed pillows in my previous blog, I sew all around the pillow without leaving an opening.  Then I cut the thread in the center of the bottom seam (where it won’t show when closed) and remove a few stitches to turn inside out.  This allows all four corners to look consistent (refer to that same link for trimming corners and turning).

Filling: I use a small funnel and white craft sand, “Scenic Sand” to fill the throw pillows.  The sand makes the pillows sit up like a real feather pillow.  I put a small line of glue inside the folded opening (see photo) then press closed and hold a minute or two.  You have to be careful to completely close the opening so no sand leaks out.  Most tightly woven cotton quilt fabrics should hold the sand OK.
Scenic sand, funnel and how full to fill it!
Put a line of glue inside the opening fold

Press, hold, finished!
Embellishments: I used silk ribbon, 2mm and 4mm width to make tiny silk roses and bows.  Where ribbon wraps around the entire pillow I put the glue only on the back since glue soaks through silk ribbon very easily and makes a stain.   I have a bowmaker I made many years ago from nails and a piece of wood that I use to tie tiny bows (similar to this link but using two nails in a block of wood).  The tiny buckle is a vintage doll buckle I purchased many years ago.

There is a very good tutorial on Cynthia Howe’s website on how to make silk ribbon roses.  Click here.

I hope my blog may inspire you to try to make something from all the beautiful embroidered hankies you can find on Ebay.  Enjoy!


  1. Your pillows are feminine and charming! I love using vintage hankies in miniature work, but hadn't thought of using them to make throw pillows. Thank you for sharing your tips on finishing.You've inspired me to look through my stash :)

    1. Kate thank you for your nice comment. Good luck using yours!