Drying Hankies

Hankies drying on the line
Hankies drying on the line

I got three batches of vintage hankies in the mail in the past two day.  I’m making  a scarf for Debra from her Grandmother’s hankies.  Sheryl sent me 8 hankies that she recently found.  Lesleigh sent me a tin of about 100 hankies in all different colors that her mother has been collecting for years.

Lesleigh and I made a scarf for hankies trade.  (Her mom, who is in her 80’s will get the scarf)  This afternoon, I opened the tin and started looking through the hankies.  So many different patterns and colors and lots of embroidered white ones too.  I found three silk hankies with the words Japanese Silk 1933 printed on them and one with a picture of the Liberty Bell and the signature of Tammis Keefe.  I researched  them all on ebay.  The Silk hankies are from the Chicago Worlds Fair in 1933.  I’ll send those back to Lesleigh and she told me to keep the Liberty Bell, which I’ll use in a scarf.  I did a little research on Tammis Keefe and found out she was a textile designer in the 40’s and 50’s.  She designed hankies, fabric, linens and even playing cards.

I hand washed all the hankies in cold water then hung them out to dry.  They’re so delicate I didn’t trust the washer and dryer.  Flo sat on the rocker as I hung the hankies on the makeshift line between the porch posts and Jon took photos of the light coming through them. The sun was shining and there was a breeze, so by the time we came back from walking the dogs, the first batch of hankies were dry.

Next week I’ll start making more scarves.  Kim, my friend who assembles my potholders,  is going to help with the sewing.   She came by the studio today (and brought me some perennials from her garden too) and we figured out that after I designed the scarves I would pin them together and she would sew them.  I had elaborate plans of labeling each hankie and giving Kim drawings of how they would go together.  When Kim suggested simply pinning them together, I knew I had the right person helping me.

I have a long list of hankie orders, but now I have lots of hankies (and more coming) and help sewing them too.  I was excited when I first came up with the idea of making scarves from the vintage hankies, but like my quilts and potholders and pillows, it’s turned into more than just making scarves.  It’s the stories of the people behind the hankies.  And the connections I make to all the people sending me hankies, buying my scarves  or using  my idea to make their own.

white hankies and flo


20 thoughts on “Drying Hankies

  1. At first glance those look like ladies unmentionables…but I am sure people driving by thought, “That poor woman and her runny nose!”

  2. I love seeing all these pretty hankies ~ sad that we don’t make such things any longer. And how wonderful to have found some from a world’s fair! Were they some sort of keepsake? The scarves are really beautiful, I hope you keep making them!

  3. Maria, First of all it is lovely to see the hankies on a clothes line. I grew up hanging clothes out. It was the 60’s so considered not modern. I confess I love the smell and the almost starch like quality hanging offers.
    Today I cannot do that. I live in the city and polution would soil eveything. Becasue I know the difference it makes me sad and aware.
    Your hankie scarfs are sooooo beautiful. I don’t believe anyone is in a hurry to have your artistic talent compose the scarfs. At least I hope not. Enjoy. Will wait and see…………..xo

  4. That is quite a bountiful colection, Maria….and having that many, I am sure, leads to more creativity, and on and on. I took your idea and made a hanky scarf long enough to drape over a rather bland woven headboard on my bed…..I ove it, and who, knows, I may wrap it around myself as a shawl at some point. We are headed out on a trip in a few weeks and i plan to stop at as many thrift shops as possible to collect more. Thanks so much for the inspiration.
    Also, I used some vintage Tammis Keefe fabric in a quilt I made recently. It was humorous reindeer fabric. Found it on Etsy.

  5. Maria, there is nothing more gratifying than to see an artist move from one creation to another in her medium as you are doing. Your scarves are beautiful and they are meaningful. And your photographer isn’t too bad either…(smiling)…I’d keep him around; he’s very good at what he does.

    SandyProudfoot in Canada

  6. I love these, too! Maria, how do you sew them together, by hand? They seem too delicate to sew by machine. (I’d like to try my hand at one.). Love your work!

  7. Dear Maria…I love your new scarves, and have been watching you and Jon planting gardens and your quilts…You are both so inspirational!! I also love your new heading on your blog…It shows your beautiful work!! love, jane

  8. Maria, someday, some “textile artist” is going to come across a quilt, potholder, scarf or some other Full Moon Fiber Arts creation with an “MW” on it, and be curious. That artist will discover the history of Maria Wulf, who continued to evolve herself as an artist and inspire everyone around her. I am so inspired by your continued evolution – you are making history yourself, somehow, some way. Bravo, Maria!!

  9. There is something so sweet about this picture. It reminds me of when I was a little girl and lived at my grandmother’s during the war (WWII). She had a clothesline out back and I recall the laundry blowing in the wind. She even had a victory garden. I remember that there was a wooden fence around it and I’d walk in to the garden. The string beans were growing up what seemed like a teepee. They were the tallest beans I’d ever seen–like Jack’s beanstalk. It was like a giant of beans. Years later, when I became an adult and looked back on this memory I realized that the bean teepee wasn’t that gigantic, it was that I was so small. Your creativity inspires me and my memories.
    I love this picture with Flo in it. She looks so sweet and little.
    Have a lovely day.

  10. Hi Maria: so I’ve been gathering handkerchiefs and am ready to start washing them. I’m wondering what kind of soap you use and what do you use on any stains. I’m assuming you use cold water, and wash any brightly colored ones separately in case colors run? Any advice would be helpful! Thanks, Robin

    1. Robin, I’ve used regular detergent, but then started using woolite. I haven’t had much luck on getting stains out that don’t come out in the regular wash. Yes, cold water and I don’t use any brightly colored ones in my scarves because if someone were to wash the scarf in the future, I wouldn’t want it to run. Good Luck and have fun and let us see the finished piece!

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