Sunday, November 6, 2011

No-Sew Handkerchiefs

Have you ever wondered what to do with all those T-shirts?  You know the ones I mean... you can't wear them anymore in public, but you don't really want to save them for a T-shirt quilt (one can only have so many T-shirt quilts, after all), but you hate to throw them away?

Two winters ago, I was appalled at how many tissues we used in the winter, even when no one was sick.  Our house is approaching its 90 year mark, and with the original windows in place until a month ago, winters were cold, and that meant drippy noses.  Why buy tissues, I thought, when I could make them?

A pile of T-shirts had been aging nicely in my "someday" pile, the pile of things I will do "something" with, "someday."  In search of a good use for the soft fabric (and noticing my children preferring to wipe their noses on their clothes rather than stiff tissues), I decided to try a few no-sew handkerchiefs.

Two years in, I think they're great!  Because we have a shoe-box full, they don't have to be reused all day like traditional handkerchiefs.  I have to wash cloth diapers and make sure they're sanitary, so the cloth tissues can go in the same wash and be germ-free. (The tissue to the right is old and no longer a tissue... it was commandeered as a rag for an ink spill, and has only gotten more stained with time!)

Here are two old polo shirts that I cut recently.  One was too worn for my husband to wear to work, and the other had a large grease stain.  Neither matters for tissues!

I use a 6.5" quilting ruler and a rotary cutter, but you could cut a template to your preferred size out of cardboard, mark with a pencil or chalk, and cut with plain old scissors.

The important thing here, to avoid needing to sew the edges, is to cut on the bias, or a 45 degree angle from the straight edge of the fabric.  There is a little raveling the first few washes, if you use something like an old tea towel, but T-shirts don't ravel at all... as long as you cut on the bias.  Also, if you have a t-shirt with a large plastic logo on it, I would not use the plasticy part for a tissue.  Just cut around it.  Tea towers also work (that old, stained tissue is one of the originals, now ink-stained from some long ago spill...), or flannel receiving blankets that have one of those permanent stains on them.

You don't have to be too scientific about where to start cutting... I managed 9 new 6.5" squares from a medium polo, and 16 from an extra large! 25 new tissues from a few minutes work for something that I wouldn't give away and couldn't use anymore in it's original form.

Until next time, remember, this is not paradise.  It's Purgatory Ranch.



  1. I do love how you always have cloths on hand for face cleaning :). We may need to do the same!