Elegant Crochet on a Budget
Handkerchiefs aren't just for the elderly cold sufferer. While they may seem like a throwback to the Victorian era, handkerchiefs are an excellent item to decorate to create a last-minute gift or as an addition to your own linen collection.
Edging crocheted around a handkerchief can turn even inexpensive cotton fabric into something beautiful that can have wide-ranging craft uses. This is one of those projects that you'll want to keep materials on hand for as they are inexpensive and take up little space in your crafting bag.
|My own work in a shell pattern, photo credit Trish Deneen.|
Choose Your Hook and Thread
It's best to use a steel crochet hook for this project. Start with a US size 6 or 7 (metric 1.60 and 1.50). If you aren't used to working with steel hooks, these sizes aren't too small but are small enough to do a nice edging.
Size 10 cotton thread in the color of your choice works well with these size hooks, especially if you haven't done this type of project before. Choose smaller hooks and finer thread depending on if you want a lacier edging, though this will take a bit longer to finish.
While the old standby white linen fabric is still used, there are now more fabrics to choose from including 100% cotton and cotton-blend fabrics. They come in a variety of colors from pastels to southwestern and paisley printed bandannas.
Those that are spoke stitched (sometimes called hemstitch, see pic below), that is with pre-stiched holes around the edges, make it even easier to get your crochet hook through.
|Hemsticthed linen, Photo credit Wikimedia Commons|
The Technique and Free Pattern Resources
If your handkerchief isn't spoke stitched, you will have to carefully poke holes in the fabric along the edges. If the fabric is light enough, your crochet hook will work for this. Otherwise, you will need to use a tapestry needle to make the holes. Evenly space the holes about 1/8 inch apart from each other. Now you are set to begin.
· Make the edging as simple or as elaborate as you like. If the piece is already spoke stitched, start in the corner with three single crochet. Then make single crochet stitches around the entire handkerchief with three stitches in each of the remaining corners to keep the piece from bunching up. Join the last and first stitches with a slip stitch.
· Chain one and add another row of single crochet around all sides. Make sure to do the three stitches in each corner. Join the last and first stitches with a slip stitch.
· On the next row is where you begin your favorite edging stitches and patterns.
Alternatively, you can do a blanket stitch around the whole piece and use that as your basis for crochet. You can find free edging patterns at Barb's Free Crochet Patterns and Crochet Pattern Central. Use this technique with several cotton bandannas with a basic shell pattern to have on hand to put in gift baskets.
These also make a decorative wrapping for party favors at baby or wedding showers. To do this, put your small gift in the center, gather up the edges and tie with decorative ribbon. Finer linen handkerchiefs with lacy edging make beautiful table centerpieces and can also be embroidered with initials for that special gift.
A Special Gift
This doesn't have to be limited to handkerchiefs. Napkins come in an assortment of sizes and fabric types and lend themselves well to this technique. With the choice in colors and textures of crochet thread, you will be sure to find the right match for the fabric you are using for your project.
This is also a perfect on-the-go craft to take with you anywhere. Crocheting edging around handkerchiefs and napkins is a fast and frugal way to create handmade gifts and heirlooms for you and your family.(c) Patricia Deneen