Embellishing a Bodice With Vintage Handkerchief

Posted by Becky Taylor on

Hello sewing friends!

It's Becky here from Georgia Kates! Do you ever get creative blocks when you are planning the design of your dress? This happens to all of us, but adding a vintage Hankie or some lace and buttons can change the whole aesthetic of your piece.

I wanted to share a few simple ways to add details to my designs using different trims and handkerchiefs. Sometimes I even plan my whole dress design from a Hankie that I really love! I collect most of my hankies from antique stores and thrift shops, but if you don’t have access to those, there are loads of them for sale on eBay and Etsy.

As far as trims, you can get them at any craft or sewing store but I like to collect vintage buttons and laces for most of my pieces. All of your embellishments will be added to the main bodice before you sew the back bodice pieces to the shoulders. Just think of it as a blank canvas and have fun!

Here’s what you will start with:

1. I like to lay out my fabrics first in order to see how they will look together.

2. Lay out the Main Bodice. (I’m using Dandelion, it is one of my favorites to embellish!)

3. Choose the hankie that you'd would like to use and place it over the bodice where you want it to lay. For this one we will just use a corner.


I love how well this hankie matches my skirt fabric, but I want to bring out some of the pink so I have cut two pieces of lace to place underneath while I sew it on for extra detail. 

4. Next, use a straight stitch to sew it down about 1/8” (3mm) away from the edge. If your hankie has curves and you are comfortable sewing along the curves it always looks nice. If not, doing a straight stitch close to the edge will still work perfectly fine! 

5. After it’s attached, I turn my bodice over and cut off the excess. It’s a good idea to baste down the Hankie at the neckline and shoulders so it stays put. 

Now you can construct the rest of the dress as per the pattern you are making!

Here are a couple quick pictures of other ideas to embellish your bodice if you want even more details. 


Vintage Buttons

Adding a few buttons centred on the bodice adds interest!

Ribbon Bow

Hand sew the ribbon to the bodice main or use your machine and attach like a button - I use my machine using a zig zag stick at a very small width with the feed dogs lowered. Start with plenty of thread length and when done cut with plenty of length as well. You can then pull the threads tight in front and back and make knots on both sides to make sure your bow stays attached.  

Tip: To prevent the edges of the ribbon fraying, you can melt the ends with a flame (be careful!). You can use fray check on thicker ribbon but it can leave stains on satin. 

Sew any trims or buttons on before you do the lining and it will look neat and clean when complete!

 I hope this helps give you some new ways to add detail to your pieces. This is my favorite part of designing and I hope you have fun with it. 


Dahlia with Hankie corner and Bow. 

Dandelion with Silk Handkerchief 

Dandelion with Vintage Hankie corner and vintage lace on waistband and flutters.

 Dahlia with Vintage Hankie 


Share this post

← Older Post Newer Post →