For the seventeenth day of A Gift a Day, I made embroidered handkerchiefs.

I printed out initials for my children on my computer. I print the letters at a minimum of size 72. I then choose fonts that look best for that particular letter. I chose fancier fonts for the girls.

You can tape the paper with the letters to a window during the day, and tape the fabric over it for tracing. If you have a lightbox, you can use that instead.

Trace your design using a water-soluble marker.

When your drawing is complete, embroider your design. I used 2 strands of embroidery thread. I embroidered it with the stem stitch. I then covered some of the letters with satin stitch (the “W” is stem stitch).

When you’re done embroidering, rinse the fabric with water to remove the blue marker. You can mist it with water as well, but sometimes a little blue reappears when you do that. Do not use soap! Soap will set the marker brown, permanently into your fabric. If any blue reappears after your fabric is dry, just rinse and repeat 🙂

I usually hang my embroidery to dry over a towel on the towel rack in my bathroom (this also prevents the children from seeing the present!)

When it’s done drying, iron the fabric. You can fold in the edges, do a rolled hem finish, or sew a scalloped stitch and trim them, like I did on the handkerchiefs that I made earlier in this series.

Embroidered Handkerchiefs


soft cotton fabric ( I used edges of old cotton sheet and also some muslin)
matching thread
embroidery thread


sewing needle
sewing machine (optional; you could sew these by hand)
Mark B Gone pen or a pencil
lightbox (optional; a sunny window works too)
printer and paper


The total time for one handkerchief was 45 minutes, doing a simple letter in satin stitch and a simple hem. If I add extra embroidery, it was be as long as 3 hours for the embroidery work. The scalloped hem edge took some additional time for sewing and trimming; it was another 30 minutes each.

Today I made 4 handkerchiefs (I embroidered the girls handkerchiefs in October and the boys today). I sewed the hems today on all 4.

The “L” is a free design from a Dover Sampler, and the flowers around the “W” came from Jeannie Beaumeister’s Best Embroidered Baby Clothes pattern.


$0.05 each

What did you make today?

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  1. My grandmother and my mother both use soap slivers to mark rather than one of those pens. White soap on dark fabric and darker soap (usually blue) on white or light. Works perfectly and you can throw in the wash with your regular clothes to get the color out!Love these Brandy – I even have an old sheet that I might make some from. My Husband uses handkerchiefs rather than tissues and a set of burgundy ones might make him a very nice gift this year!Thanks for the inspiration,Lea

  2. I did some embroidery and crewel jits when I was a girl. It’s been a long time. How do you get the corner area in the hoop so that there is enough fabric on the edges to secure it? I think you hem the handkerchief after embroidering it. Do you cut it out before the needlework, or do you cut an oversize hems, and then trim it down after the embroidery. I think I might try to make some of these for myself and my daughters for Easter. I think I’m full up with projects to do before Christmas.

  3. Those are just lovely! Does anyone have suggestions for ways I can use the good part of printed sheets? I have a light blue sheet that has tulips on it – the tulips are fair sized (the blossom part is probably about 1 1/2 inches) I suppose it could make a nice lining for a bag or something, but I’m open to all ideas. Thanks! 🙂

  4. Your embroidery projects always amaze me, especially the Harry Potter pillow! This week I finished a crocheted scarf for my sister and started one for my mom. I also made a yarn-wrapped pencil holder with a tin can and yarn I already had on hand. I will fill it with goodies and give it to my son’s teacher for Christmas.

  5. First time commenting, but I love reading your blog and find it so inspiring! Thank you for taking the time to maintain both it and your website. I was inspired by your post to try my hand at a handkerchief, so I made one from an old pillow case I purchased at a thrift shop. I ventured out and tried the scallop stitch on my sewing machine and it turned out fairly nice! 🙂 I purchased a new machine last year and it has a lot stitches that I don’t know what to do with, so it was fun to do something besides a straight stitch! I hope to embroider it later today. I also made 2 “I Spy” bags mostly all from materials I had on hand. These were quick to make and I think my children will enjoy them! ~Angela

  6. Also, I wanted to ask you…if you work on gifts for children during the day, how do you keep them a surprise? I find that I have to work on things at night when children are in bed if I want to keep what I am making a secret. ~Angela

  7. Thanks for this idea and the many you have posted this holiday season. I have 2 more hankies to embroider. 🙂 Your blog has made it possible to give presents to everyone I wanted too this year. I have stuff for stocking’s for my kiddos, Hankies for my Dad, paper dolls for my niece, hats and scarves galore for my northern kin. I really appreciate your inspirational ideas. Thank you so much. A grateful Mom.

  8. These hankies are just so beautiful! I am anxious to try the scallop edging. Do you just so the scallop stitch and then trim closely with scissors? I really want to try these. What a beautiful shower gift they would make for a bride! I got married 27 years ago and there were little ladies who made beautiful gifts like these. I don’t see so much of homemade giftmaking for brides and babies anymore, but I’m bound and determine to share some of this “love” with the younger couples of today. It seems like crafting is on the rise (with Pinterest being so popular). Thanks for posting these! Your work is so wonderful!

  9. That is exactly how you sew the scalloped stitch. I use a pair of sharp embroidery scissors to trim around them, because they are smaller.I made some things for a bride earlier this month; look at my Frugal Accomplishments for the first week of January 2013.

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