from the north country: noodlehead

January 24th, 2011

Hi there! It’s me, Anna from noodlehead.  If you have some time to kill today, feel free to stop by and say hi or check out my tutorials and patterns.  I also want to say a huge thanks to Meg for having me over.  I’ve been a long time admirer of Elsie Marley and am super honored that Meg asked me to stop by with a fun little project!

It’s a sweet and simple project you can create in time for valentines day.  This would even be a great project for a beginner or for a child who’s fairly comfortable using a sewing machine.

I thought of these pillows one day after I saw some of my vintage hankies.  Their colors were perfect for valentines day and I thought they would add a little bit of character to an empty chair or sofa.  My mom had given me a few of the hankies and I had collected a few from local estate sales.  If you’re not sure where to get vintage hankies, I suggest looking at estate sales, etsy, or ebay.  They’re usually in pretty good condition and will be durable enough to add to a pillow  After all, they were originally intended for nose blowing!
Now I’m sure there are some enthusiasts who would never do this to a prized vintage item, but for me I’d rather have them out on display where we can enjoy them more, instead of stashed in a drawer somewhere.
Let’s get started!


  • 1/2 yard linen or base fabric for making the pillow cover
  • 1 vintage hankie (wash, iron, starch)
  • 1/2 yard heat n bond lite (available at Joanns, even pre-packaged at walmart)
  • thread, sewing machine, pins, etc.
I’ll give measurements for both a 16″ pillow form, but of course feel free to adjust these as needed for your particular hankie/pillow form.

Cutting the pieces:

  • top: 16″ x 16″
  • for envelope back: cut one piece 16″ tall by 14″ wide, and another 16″ tall by 11″ wide
Attaching hankie:
Apply heat n bond lite to the hankie using manufacturers directions.  Fuse hankie to pillow cover top, centering hankie.
The next step can be potentially tricky, but you’ll need to sew the hankie down to the pillow cover top as close to the hankie’s edge as possible.
Depending on how your particular hankie is shaped/hemmed, you might have to take it really slow and lift the presser foot and turn as you go.  You could alternately used heat n bond ultra (which requires no sewing to ensure the quality of the bond), however it will make the pillow more stiff, so I’ll just leave that up to you!
Finishing the pillow:
Next you’ll want to hem the edges of the envelope back opening.  Take one piece of envelope back and press the long side over by 1/2″ towards the WRONG side of the fabric and again by another 1/2″.
Sew close to folded edge.  Do this for both envelope back pieces.
Then place the pillow cover top facing RIGHT side up, on top of that layer the larger back piece RIGHT side down on top, aligning raw edges.  Then place the smaller envelope back piece over that, also RIGHT side down.  Pin.  Sew around entire perimeter using a 1/2″ seam allowance.
Serge or use a zig zag stitch around edges to finish them off so they don’t fray in the wash, clip corners.  Press.  Insert pillow form and enjoy!

24 Responses to from the north country: noodlehead

  1. Peggy says:

    What a great idea! I have a rather substantial stack of my grandmother’s hankies which she gave me before she passed away almost 13 years ago. I just made a wreath with her button collection and love the idea of being able to make use more of the things she passed on to me!

  2. I always love the pillows Noodlehead comes up with, and of course she does not disappoint us here. Amazing job! These are gorgeous!

  3. anna says:

    thanks for having me today meg! :)

  4. Rachel says:

    I love this idea! I got a Martha Stewart book this weekend and it had a hankie quilt, so this would be perfect. Time to do some 2nd hand store shopping!

  5. erin says:

    absolutely adorable, anna! i love the idea of using it for a kids’ project.

  6. Rachel says:

    Those are so pretty! I have to add “hankies” to my thrifting list right away! Thanks for the how-to, I’ll be linking.

  7. DANA says:

    Beautiful Anna. Love these pillows and perfect for February!

  8. Carla says:

    Awesome, I actually have some vintage hankies sitting in my drawer … not for long! Thanks!

  9. Ashley says:

    Love this idea! I’ll definitely be searching your archives for some wonderful new-to-me projects!

  10. Wendy says:

    Your pillows are lovely and thank you for the tutorial! I have a good bunch of vintage linens (not hankies but about the right size) and now I have a thought for what to do with some of them.

  11. Jessica says:

    ugh, why did I not buy all those cheap hankies at the antique market?!?! Great project, thanks!

  12. lindsay says:

    So pretty! I am always in awe at how beautiful some of the hankies I find are, but never know how to use them. This is such a wonderful idea with such beautiful results.

  13. Care says:

    I am complete agreement about having beautiful things you love OUT where you can enjoy them. This is a perfect way to display those beautiful hankies!

    Thanks so much for the idea and tutorial!

  14. Vickie says:

    These are beautiful! Thanks for such a great idea and tutorial!!

  15. blair says:

    So cute! Now I’m going to add to my list searching for that small collection of pretty hankies I have somewhere around here.

  16. These are so beautiful. I love this idea.

  17. Katie says:

    So pretty. I picked up a sweet little embroidered napkin today at the thrift store with a project like this in mind. I’ll have to keep my eye out for more.

  18. Tara says:

    I love this idea! Thanks for the tutorial. Its such a great way to get those gorgeous linens/hankies out of the drawer and displayed. I had only ever tacked them too the walls but it was temporary and I really hated putting holes in the corner.

  19. amanda says:

    oh what a great idea!! thanks for sharing! i’m going to include this in a v-day post i’m doing if that’s ok. you have a great blog!!

  20. Eileen says:

    So pretty! I would love to make a pillow like this! I’ll be keeping my eye open for vintage hankies! :)

  21. […] 1. Personalized 2. ZigZag 3. Fabric Printing 4. Vintage Hankie […]

  22. […] quick shout out to all the awesome bloggers who kindly took care of this space while I was away: Anna, MaryJo, Julia, Rae, Holly, Erika, Abbey, Lily, and Eerika.   They baked and sewed and drew and […]

  23. Alison says:

    This post was so inspiring to me! I absolutely LOVE the idea of using vintage hankies on a pillowcase! Love the happy, bright red too! I featured this post on my weekly wowzers today:

    Thanks for inspiring!