Last year the indoor winter project was making dryer balls out of yarn. With this year’s project, I am pleased to report that there was much less cursing.
Three things: a desire to reduce our facial tissue waste, a ripped pillowcase, and a 6-year-old girl who *desperately* wanted to sew something resulted in a project upon which we now wipe our nasal discharge.
Once elevated to dabbing a fine lady’s delicate tears or as blood-stained symbols of romantic diseases like Consumption, handkerchiefs fell out of vogue with the rise of disposable paper tissues. The disposable era, which took hold in the 1950s, has stayed strong for decades and is now considered common convention. And yet today non-disposables like handkerchiefs are going through a sort of re-nez-sance in popularity. (The French pun could not be helped.)
On laundry day I would find my son’s pockets stuffed full of wadded, ripped, paper tissues for his chronically running nose (allergies). In addition to that, the “dry compost” containers in the house were overflowing with used tissues. It was time to give washable handkerchiefs a try.
The well-used pillowcase was a perfect fit—nice and soft for tender noses. No buying new fabric. Minimal waste—the scraps (plant-derived cotton) were tossed into the compost bin.
As for the sewing portion of the project, it was perfect for my girl just starting out. Since the idea was to make something not only functional but functional for a very unglamorous purpose, I had no stress about her “doing it wrong.” She got to pick the thread colors (she chose one color for the top and a different color for the bottom), and she changed it up for each hanky. [It’s a great project to use up those spools of thread that don’t have enough for large projects.] I do not have a serger and have no patience/skills for crocheting lacy edges and embroidering monograms in the corners. (Though one could do that.) With the machine set to a basic zigzag stitch, I gave my girl a moderate amount of instructions, then sat back . . . and let her sew.
. . . the way you’d imagine a 6-year-old would sew.
It was very liberating for me to let go of the idea of perfection. She would get off course and sew inland for awhile before she noticed what was happening. I didn’t panic. She didn’t panic. She just corrected herself and continued on her way. And, when she was done, she didn’t see her mistakes, she saw her success: she just sewed handkerchiefs!! And the colors were so pretty!! And she did it all by herself!! And she was going to tell everyone what she did!!
We have since put those hankies to good(?) use. I love the dramatic reduction in tissue waste. I’m still a bit squeamish when it comes to the “ick” factor of boogers and mucus—ironic, I know, considering that we cloth diaper. I use the hankies only when what’s coming out of the nose is essentially water (thin, clear, no substance whatsoever). When it comes to anything with body to it—viscous or chunky—I still use paper tissues. Maybe the next step will be to make color-coded hankies, so as to warn anyone what may be lurking somewhere inside of that wadded cloth. Or maybe each family member will have his or her own color. Or maybe we’ll make *guest* hankies. What fun we are certain to have! There’s a crib sheet, worn through 3 babies, that has started to rip. It’s time for another go-around.
I usually keep the same hanky all day long, and then add it to the laundry pile at the end of the day.
It saves on money, landfill space, and home storage space. It re-uses what you already have, and adds, in essence, no extra work in your weekly routine. Great project for a chilly winter day.