Frame a Quilted Hankie!

Vintage Linen | April 23, 2016 | By

I never knew I was such a hankie lover! They are the simplest linen you can quilt. Small, simple and fast! I’ll take you through the steps to create this one-of-a-kind piece. Let’s go!


These are the fabrics used in this piece. The background is a red cotton with a sheen, underlayment is a gold lame’ and then the hankie is on the top of this sandwich.


Hankies are usually quite thin, so I like to put something underneath them. Sometimes it’s just a white layer or a thin piece of batting, but this one has some cutwork, so I put the lame’ just under the inside open area. I will admit it was a little tricky to position it!


I work on a Handi Quilter Fusion longarm. I’ve recently become a Handi Quilter Ambassador, so you can imagine how much I adore my machine! To begin, I have loaded a piece of muslin backing on my frame, then I begin “the stack”. First, is a piece of 100% wool batting. Then a layer of background fabric, which is the red cotton with a hint of sheen. Next, is the gold lame’ just underneath the inside cut work. Finally, the hankie.


I begin by stitching down the red fabric, creating the shape I want, in this case a square. Then I stitch the perimeter of the hankie, following the lines of the lace. This will also anchor the lame’ on the inside.


On this piece, I used Cindy Needham’s Ultimate Stencils When faced with a lot of white space, this IS the ultimate stencil. It is a fabulous grid system that let’s you create a unique design. I used a purple air erase pen to draw my lines. I like these pens because the lines disappear in about an hour. ***UPDATE, I now prefer blue, water soluble pens. I’ve had the purple pens reappear. The blue pen disappears best with a mix of 1 heaping teaspoon of baking soda, dissolved into 1 cup of cold water.***


After using the grid for the straight lines, I connect the dots where I like and then start my free motion quilting in those spaces. I use my favorite quilting ruler to do the ditch stitching around the perimeter and then to outline my design.


This is where the design starts to take shape. I don’t necessarily know where I’m going. I decide each step as I go!


Now that I have the inside designed, I go back out to the background fabric and echo the scallop of the hankie. From there, I decided on a piano key border.


The last thing I do while I have the piece on my longarm, is to stitch around the perimeter of the hankie to finish the edge. Once I have the hankie off the frame, I add small glass beads to tack down the middle of the flowers and give the piece a wee bit ‘o bling. For this particular piece, I trimmed about 2 inches beyond the size of the frame, wrapped around a piece of acid free foam core board, then completed with the inset piece of cardboard that came with the frame.


Here is the finish! Framed it is about 24″ square. I put spacers right inside the frame (1/4″ strips of foamboard) so the fabric does not touch the glass. Many times I cut a mat, but this one looked great on its own.

I made this piece to sell at my guilds’ silent auction a few weeks ago, so it no longer resides with me. This was a tough one to give up, but I know it’s making someone smile when they look at it! Thanks for following my process. I hope you’ll give it a go, whether you work on a domestic or longarm machine. Have a fabulous weekend!


  1. Leave a Reply

    April 23, 2016

    Thanks Kelly..great explanation…beautiful piece

  2. Leave a Reply

    Rebecca Collis
    April 23, 2016

    Great explanation. It is a little comforting to know that you design “on the fly”. I think that this is where a great deal of the magic happens!!!!

  3. Leave a Reply

    Ray and Sandy Sims
    April 24, 2016

    Thank for the tutorial, it helps to “see” things done rather than just explained. We’ll be getting started soon.

  4. Leave a Reply

    Virginia McKenna
    April 24, 2016

    Stunning!!!!!! Thanks for sharing your process. I have some hankies which were my grandmothers.

  5. Leave a Reply

    April 25, 2016

    That’s so beautiful. I never think outside using something like that gold. I htink I need to go looking for different fabrics… Thank you so much for sharing the process

  6. Leave a Reply

    Karen O. from Minnesota
    April 30, 2016

    I love your work….especially this piece. Have you tried different frames with it? I personally don’t like the color you chose. It reminds me of the 50s vintage woodwork that i have in this house we live in.

    • Leave a Reply

      [email protected]
      April 30, 2016

      Thanks, it looks much different in person. It is almost metallic gold, which pulls out the gold lame’ in the piece 🙂

  7. Leave a Reply

    Laura Bullinger
    April 30, 2016

    How much did this fetch at the auction?

    • Leave a Reply

      [email protected]
      April 30, 2016

      $125 🙂 Sold fast, so I knew it could have gone for more, but I was pricing for my midwest quilt crowd!

  8. Leave a Reply

    Sue W
    April 30, 2016

    What an absolutely stunning piece! SUch a clever way to showcase a vintage hankie. 🙂

  9. Leave a Reply

    April 30, 2016

    Hi. I was referred to your site by today’s Mary Corbet post on her blog, Needle ‘n Thread. What an incredible idea! I collect all sorts of antique and vintage handkerchiefs, and have wondered who in my family will be interested in keeping them someday. Well, now I know how I can add to the beauty of the pretty lawn handkerchiefs as well as the 1940s and 1950s flower and novelty ones. Thank you so much!!!

  10. Leave a Reply

    Elli Wollangk, MCPF
    May 5, 2016

    I also found you from You do beautiful work. I am a lover of all things textile and am a professional picture framer by trade. I was pleased to read that you spaced your needle art away from the glass but I cringed when I read the word cardboard in your description. I’m on a mission to let artists know that acid free foam board should be what you reach for or ask about if you have someone else do your framing. Your wrap of the edges is the way to go and you should never let adhesive anywhere near your art – it should be laced in back or pinned using nickel plated brass pins. For long lasting protection artists should ask for conservation level glazing which is either glass or acrylic coated to filter UV light. Keep up your great efforts to share and teach. You have a gift for it.

    • Leave a Reply

      [email protected]
      May 5, 2016

      Thanks Elli! I did use foam core board for the initial wrap, I’ll change my wording! Thanks! I did complete the back with a regular piece of cardboard. I appreciate the comment as others can benefit from your directions!

  11. Leave a Reply

    Warm Quilts
    May 29, 2016

    I have a collection of hankies and have always wanted to use them in a quilt. Your detailed instructions and up-close photography provide a helpful tutorial and a starting point. Thank you so much for providing inspiration – your work is exquisite!

    • Leave a Reply

      [email protected]
      May 30, 2016

      Thank you! I hope you will give it a try and share if you make one. Each hankie quilt I see is different than the next!

  12. Leave a Reply

    Ingrid Meier
    November 11, 2017

    Ich habe heute nach deiner Anleitung zum ersten Mal ein Taschentuch gequiltet. Es ist gelungen, doch noch lange nicht so schön wie das von dir. Vielen Dank für die detaillierte Anleitung.

    • Leave a Reply

      [email protected]
      November 12, 2017

      I am so excited you gave it a try, Ingrid!! Trust me, practice makes it better. My first ones weren’t near what they are now!

  13. Leave a Reply

    Ingrid Meier
    November 11, 2017

    Na, diese automatische Übersetzung ist ja irre. Tut mir leid, was da so übersetzt wurde. Ich wollte einfach sagen, vielen vielen Dank für die Anleitung.

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