Braided Bracelets from Vintage Handkerchiefs

Braided Bracelets from Vintage Handkerchiefs

Making my own jewelry has been a staple in my life for about as long as I’ve had motor skills. I’ve obviously graduated from the friendship pins and bracelets of childhood. But, this project is nearly just as simple, using some vintage handkerchiefs as the main ingredient.

This is another older project of mine that I am republishing. In fact, it was originally posted in January 2014, which was my first full month of blogging!

Which means that the photos were awful and the project deserved a fresh coat of paint, so-to-speak.

Anyway, one of my favorite Instagram sellers, Vintage Junk in My Trunk, sent me a handful of vintage handkerchiefs so I could make some new bracelets with them.

Vintage handkerchiefs for upcycling into cloth bracelets

One of the best parts of this project is that it’s a great way to repurpose the handkerchiefs that are damaged. Because, chances are, the flaws will disappear during the upcycling process!

Ladies handkerchiefs that have holes are ideal for upcycling ideas

Either way, this is a terrific idea for upcycling those hankies that you’ve been hanging onto for a while. And it’s a simple little project to work on at home, which is something we can all relate to right now!

This post contains affiliate links for your crafting convenience. As an Amazon Affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Prepping the Vintage Handkerchiefs for Jewelry Making

To start these simple bracelets, I first ironed the handkerchiefs. Then, I cut off one of the finished edges before cutting three strips of fabric, each strip about 1¼” – 1½” wide.

Cutting up a vintage hankie into strips for braiding

Because I like a “shabby” look to these, I pulled the long edges of each strip to encourage some fraying.

Fraying the edges of vintage handkerchiefs before braiding

To start the bracelet, I folded each strip in half (just at the top), and all three together. I pulled a needle and thread through the folds a few times before wrapping the thread tightly around the end.

Making a simple bracelet from the vintage hankies

Before I started braiding the strips of vintage handkerchiefs, I threaded my needle again before setting it aside. Trust me, do this now- you’ll thank me later!

Then, I began to braid the strips of fabric. Not too tightly, not too loosely- just an even, straight braid that didn’t bend or pull.

Braiding a ladies handkerchief as vintage inspired jewelry

Vintage Inspired Jewelry and Boho Bracelets

When I reached the end, I carefully checked the size of the braid to see if it was long enough to fit around my wrist. It was, so I stopped braiding just shy of the very end, but this will be different for everyone.

NOW that pre-threaded needle comes in handy! Otherwise, I would have had to set the braid down to thread the needle and it would have come undone a bit.

Anyway, just like at the beginning, I pinched the strips of handkerchief between my fingers and pulled the thread through a few times. I finished by wrapping it around the gathered fabric before knotting off.

Cloth bracelets from vintage handkerchiefs as boho chic jewelry

And yes, that’s my teapot pincushion and sewing caddy in the background- I use it constantly!

Next, I trimmed off the ends of the strips just above the wrapped thread, taking care not to cut through the thread.

Vintage inspired jewelry and boho bracelets from vintage handkerchiefs

To finish off the braided bracelets, I gathered some jewelry end caps (like these, with an opening of 6-7mm), super glue, and a bamboo skewer.

Cord end caps or jewelry end caps to go on a simple bracelet

I added a few drops of super glue inside one end cap. I inserted one end of the braided bracelet into the end cap, using the skewer to push it in fully.

Attaching the hardware to boho bracelets from the vintage hankies

Then, I did the same thing at the other end. All I needed to do to finish it up was attach a clasp (I used a magnetic version) to each end via a jump ring.

Upcycling the vintage handkerchiefs into boho bracelets

Braided Bracelets from Vintage Handkerchiefs

And that, as they say, was the end! I had upcycled one of the vintage handkerchiefs into a very sweet and shabby little bracelet.

Vintage inspired jewelry with ladies handkerchiefs for boho bracelets

Of course, I needed to make more from some of the other hankies that Gina had sent me! These are like potato chips: once you make one, you can’t stop!

Cloth bracelets that are vintage chic and boho romantic

Super easy to make a great way to repurpose those vintage hankies that you may have laying around. And trust me, if they’re damaged or worn through in places, you’ll likely never know!

Boho bracelets from vintage handkerchiefs or old hankies

If you enjoyed this upcycling idea for cloth bracelets from vintage handkerchiefs, then you’ll also love this DIY charm bracelet from rhinestone buttons!

DIY charm bracelet or button jewelry by upcycling the rhinestone buttons into silver charms

Craft on!

S

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Vintage handkerchiefs as braided bracelets and boho chic jewelry

Repurposing the vintage hankies into cloth bracelets and boho jewelry

Comments

  1. I love this sweet and stylish idea to use with some of my Mom’s old hankies–so simple,too! Thanks!
    Also, did you make the teapot pin holder? I’d love to see directions on that!

  2. Your bracelets are so pretty, Sarah, and surprisingly easy to make, thanks to your tutorial. They’d make a lovely Mother’s Day gift!

  3. I absolutely love anything vintage and you nailed it with this cute idea!! These are so cute!!
    Can I ask which magnet clasp you used? I just went on Amazon and there are so many to choose from.

  4. Heken Castrucci says

    Love this idea! Will be ordering handkerchiefs today.

  5. I love this idea; magnetic clasps are so great; my SO is lousy at doing clasps for me and arthritis is a PIA! Have you worn them long enough for them to get ratty looking yet? Would a spray of Scotchguard keep them nice longer? These would be great for people with metal sensitivities, too!

  6. These are so so cute but I am so so allergic to any of that “metal ware”. I would really like to find a way to make things like this without using hardware and still in a way where you can put it on with one hand!

  7. Elizabeth says

    Thank you Sadie, I appreciate your quick response!! I will check these out.

  8. Very cute, great repurpose. Pinned

  9. I don’t have vintage handkerchiefs on hand, but I’m assuming this would work with other cotton fabric scraps (of which I have many); what would you say the basic ballpark measurements should be? 1-and-a-half inches wide, and how long?

    Thanks!

    • Sadie Seasongoods says

      The hankies I used were roughly 10.25″ or 10.5″ squares- I’m sorry I didn’t add that in the post originally, but I will now! I would say that yes, other fabric scraps would work so long as the fabric is soft and thin (i.e., easily braidable)- does that make sense? Thank you!

  10. Janet Brennan says

    These are so pretty!

  11. These are so creative! I love the vintage handkerchiefs. I’m going to have to keep my eye out for some.

  12. Super clever !!

  13. What a fabulous idea for a gift

  14. I love these! Did you do a special type of braid? It looks more unique than what I n ow to do.

    • Sadie Seasongoods says

      No, just a basic braid! The fabric kinds of folds on it’s self which gives it a more layered look, I think.

  15. Vintage! Love ALL Vintage!
    Beautiful brackets. Can’t wait
    to make some ❤️

  16. Cathy Covington says

    I absolutely love vintage handkerchiefs and have collected them for over 10 yrs. I began collecting them and doilies, as it was the only thing I could afford at antique, vintage, thrift, and re sale shops. I want to try this idea because I wear bracelets ALL the time and love having different colors to go with any outfit. Thank you for sharing !

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