The woman or man who knows how to make a handkerchief will always have a brow-wiper ready at hand when they need one.
PHOTO: MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF
Let's face it: Not only are facial tissues ecologically and
economically unsound, but they also have a way of going to
pieces when they're most needed. Have you, for
example, ever tried to mop your gardening-besweated brow
with disposable paper? I have ... and decided then and
there that it was time to get back to good, old-fashioned,
durable pocket handkerchiefs!
I wasn't ready, however, to pay 75¢ for a tiny square
of cotton! Especially when I knew I could make five or more
"hankies" for that price—or possibly for nothing at
all! And you could too. Here's how to make a handkerchief:
Almost every sewing machine comes with a book of
instructions and a number of complicated-looking
attachments that many people never bother to master. The
enterprising seamster or seamstress need not be fooled,
however, because machine-stitching paraphernalia for the
most part only appears complicated.
Let's examine just one of the gadgets usually found with
zigzag, straight-stitch, and even treadle "sewers": the
roll foot. (Its purpose is to curl over and then tack down
edges of fabric to prevent fraying.) Admittedly, you'll
have to practice before you get the hang of this handy
device, but find some scraps of material and try it out because a roll foot can help you turn out some really
nifty "nose-blowers" in a very short period of time.
Once you've mastered the attachment (it won't take long!),
look over your odds and ends of cloth and/or any old flour
sacks you could recycle. (Nobody says handkerchiefs have to
be made out of delicate white cotton or linen!) If your
remnants don't look as if they'll do the job, go out and
buy two yards of inexpensive 54" cotton fabric. You can cut
12 big handkerchiefs from that piece. Each one will be
about 18" X 18", minus the rolled hem (which takes about a
tenth of an inch on each side).
And when you already know the roll foot technique,why stop
with the big brow-moppers? You can produce colorful
neckerchiefs and scarves in the same fashion, or even
smaller, appropriately decorated hankies for your favorite
As another roll-foot project, take a look at your kitchen
budget and note the hunk of money usually spent on paper
products. You can take down the paper-towel rack
permanently if you turn under the edges of highly absorbent
cotton material to produce kitchen cleanup cloths. And why
not be done with those tree-eating paper napkins? Make your
own—plus tablecloths to match—from the fabric of your
choice. You can also adorn bedrooms with
color-coordinated dresser scarves and curtains!
And don't forget that all the things you sew for yourself
can be used as marvelously practical gifts for others as
well. Wouldn't it be nice if the next time your friends'
noses produce great, tissues-shattering sneezes they could
whip out their huge, homemade, fabric pocket handkerchiefs
... and (no doubt) bless you!