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. You may recall that I re-worked a damaged scarf to make a jewelry project, too!

Make your own necklace with scarf material

Anyway, here’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. All blue, bold, and underlined text is a clickable link, either to a product or to a related post.

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!

braided bracelets

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!

braided bracelets from vintage hankies

And check it out. I even did a version of these braided bracelets in my book, “Crafting with Flannel”! Can you guess which part of a flannel shirt I used to make them?

using flannel for upcycled jewelry

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 bracelets from rhinestone buttons

Craft on!


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Sarah Ramberg is the owner of Sadie Seasongoods, a website that celebrates all things secondhand. From upcycling ideas and thrifted decor to vintage-centric travel itineraries, Sadie Seasongoods is a one-stop shop for anyone who loves thrifting and approachable repurposing ideas. Sarah is also the author of “Crafting with Flannel” and has been featured in numerous media outlets and magazines.


  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?


    • 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 !

  17. Rose Wagner says

    So glad to see this project–just perfect for me to make since I’ll be going to my niece’s bridal shower next month. I’ll be making about 30 of them in 3 different lengths, and let her give them out as gifts. And I’ll be making cheesecake stuffed strawberries too.

    Peace and blessings for sharing your talents!

  18. I have some old lace fabric scraps, would that work. These are so pretty, can’t wait to make some!!!!!

  19. Jannie McCartin says

    I love these, I’m definitely going to make some, plus a few more! Pinned.

  20. Do you have directions on the beaded handkerchiefs? These are adorable. I just purchased some at a garage sale this past weekend. Thanks in advance.

    • Sadie Seasongoods says

      Hmm…I never created a post about a beaded handkerchief. There’s this one, that is a braided handkerchief, and I also created a necklace with an old scarf and large beads. I’m afraid I’m not entirely sure what you are looking for…

  21. Annette Mack-Barnett says

    Where can I find the bracelet clasps?

    • Sadie Seasongoods says

      If you mean the actual clasps, craft stores like Michael’s have lots of options! The endcaps, however, aren’t always in stores and I like to them in my post. (Look for the bold, blue, underlined text for links)

  22. These are so cute! I love that they are made from vintage handkerchiefs; it reminds me of my grandma Minnie. I wish I had some of hers to make some with. I make silverware jewelry, and now I want to mix the 2 together somehow. Thank you for the inspiration!

  23. Diane L Griffin says

    I’ve tried making your bracelet and must be doing something wrong. Too short to go around wrist. I’m using 10 in square hankies. Please help…I love these. Making out of grandmother’s hankies for all my cousins. Just need help why are they so short? Thank you

    • I wish I knew why they were coming up short, Diane. I don’t recall the original size of the ones I used but they weren’t oversized. Could you add a short chain of jump rings to each end cap to help close the gap?

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