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« Molly's Sketchbook: Lovely Lined Curtains | Main | Molly's Sketchbook Monogrammed Cuff Links for Father's Day »

Father's Day Rolled Hem Hankies


Every year we struggle with what to make for Father's Day. We came up with this project after visiting fine men's clothing shops around New York City who often create this type of beautiful, hand rolled hem handkerchief out of shirting fabric remnants. We love the contrast between the organic feel that the hand rolling creates and the crisp clean fabric.

You can sew one handkerchief in an hour, and even better once you've cut the fabric, you can fit everything you need to make the handkerchief in your pocket and off you go to the bus, train, plane or subway to whip up the perfect gift for dad without even skipping a beat.  Not only will your dad think of you every time he pulls one out of his pocket, but he'll look good doing it! 


ps- For more Hankie inspiration check out our Father's Day Liberty Handkerchief Set here and our Mother's Day Liberty Handkerchief Set here!

The Materials


- One 1/2 yard cotton fabric makes 3 hankies (or at least 12 1/2-inch square per hankie)

Here are the fabrics we used from top to bottom: 

* Fabrics with a pattern that you can follow as you stitch make the process easier. It helps keep your stitches a consistent distance apart when you can use the pattern as a guide. Once you cut the fabric square, the pattern isn't always perfectly square to the edges, but not to worry, a little irregularity contributes to the lovely handmade feel.

You will also need: 

The Pattern


Cut Fabric

Square up your fabric and then cut to 12.5 inch x 12.5 inch squares.  If you need help with this step, please see our Rotary Cutter Tutorial

The finished handkerchief size is approximately 12-inches square.



We chose to sew some of our hankies with contrasting thread for a more fun look (as shown above and throughout these examples). Others we made with thread that matched the ground of the fabric to give a more subtle look.  

Keep in mind that when you start this project that the first one might feel a bit awkward, but don't be discouraged. As you continue you'll get the hang of it!


Roll Edge


Hold the fabric with the wrong side facing you. Roll the edge of the right side of the fabric towards you between your moistened thumb and index finger.  (You can just lick your finger as if to turn a page, but if this is unappealing to you just summon your inner bank teller and have a wet sponge at hand to moisten your finger.) Roll approximately 1/4-inch of fabric.  Be sure that its tight enough so that it feels secure and also so it won't reveal itself after the hanky has been washed several times.


Create Hem

Thread your needle and tie a small knot at the end.  You can make the thread long enough to go around the entire hanky so that you don't have to deal with a lot of knots which means using a piece of thread that is at least 55-inches long, or you can use several lengths that are around 18-inches long.  Do whatever is easiest for you.


Place the needle into the end of the rolled edge as shown above and come out about 1/2-inch away to make the first stitch. Pull needle through.

Catch approximately 1/16-inch (or 3 or 4 threads-worth) of the body of the fabric just where the roll meets the fabric.  Pull needle through.


Insert the needle back into the roll a few threads to the left of where you previously came out as shown above.


Run the needle through the roll for approximately 1/2-inch.  Bring the needle back out of the roll and again catch approximately 1/16-inch of the fabric.  (If you are using a contrasting thread and want the stitch to become part of the decoration on the right side of the hanky, you can make the stitch length slightly longer.  When using a matching thread you may choose to make the stitches as small as possible.) 

Continue in this way along the entire length of one side of the hanky.  Stop approximately 1/2-inch before the end.  To make the corner, roll the perpendicular side of the hanky just as you did the first side.  This time you will have the roll of the first side contend with, but if you roll it tight it will make a neat edge.  Stitch the rolled corner down using the same stitch technique that you used above.

When you come to the last corner, secure the thread by making a small knot and popping it into the inside of the hem then repeat. You won't want the hanky to come unraveled while your dad is in the middle of using it!


Reader Comments (17)

what fabulous fabrics!
June 4, 2008 | Unregistered Commenteramandajean
I love, love, LOVE this idea and can't wait to make my papa some handkerchief's for Fathers Day. Nice work!
June 4, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAnn
What a neat idea! Too bad my dad wears suits about as often as cows fly.
June 4, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterOksana
This is perfect! I wanted to make a bandana for myself (to mask a bad haircut), but didn't know how to hem it up. This tutorial is exactly what I needed!
June 4, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterrobyn
That picture totally looks like Forrest Gump! Beautiful project.
June 5, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJen
great fabric choices.
I can not wait to get to your store!
June 6, 2008 | Unregistered Commentererinn johnson
Beautiful! :)

P.S. It was good to meet you last week.

--Steph from NC
June 7, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterTheSteph
Great idea. You always great tutorial anyways. You gave me my next project but they'll be for me since my dad ain't with us anymore. And I'll be using some cotton shirts for fabric. Can't wait for the next tut. You rock
June 7, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterNathalie
I've been looking for how to make rolled hem. Thank you so much!
June 10, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterHiroko
Just wanted to say thanks for a great tutorial. I have made some hankies, and the whole stitching process was very relaxing way to spend a couple of hours.
June 11, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMarita
Oh wow.

Seeing this reminded me of when I was very young girl. I used to iron my dad's handkerchiefs and put them in his dresser drawer. I always thought handkerchiefs were the coolest things ever and I really grew to like ironing because of them. I have thought about them for over 30 years! I think I would love making some. Thanks!
June 25, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterreeenda
What a clever way to make hankies for that special man in yours or someone else's life. Never thought past the white hankie.
May 29, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMaria H
These are great, thank you so much for sharing this!
August 1, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterpvc fabric
I love this! I got faster by the time I was on the third side - lick, roll, stitch; lick, roll, stitch. I am so glad I chose a fabric with a pattern for the first time. I don't know how I would have kept the fabric even if I hadn't. My hem may be a little thick but it still looks great. There is such satisfaction from doing hand work. Thanks so much for sharing.
November 23, 2013 | Unregistered Commentercarol
I know it is me and not the instructions, but I found rolling the hem of the Liberty Lawn difficult.

I also have problems making a neat stitch. What creasing a 1/4" hem and then either machine stitching or pressing it into place then folding the edge over again and hand stitching it? Even a poor hand stitch looks better than a machine edge when the item is a small hankie.
May 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSusan Wozniak
Hi Susan-

Pressing the seams and handstitching them sounds like a great idea if you're having trouble rolling them! I would agree that it might be neater looking to do it by hand rather than machine.

Thanks for writing in!

May 21, 2014 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
I just made a linen handkerchief by double folding hem and sewing on machine. Now I am going to try a rolled hem and sewing by hand.
June 22, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJudy

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