Edwardian Handkerchief Camisoles

These two Edwardian camisoles are made from handkerchiefs. The first is from Every Woman's Encyclopaedia c.1912 and the the second from Needlecraft Magazine, c.1908. Embroidered handkerchiefs seem more appropriate than the lace-edged kind, the lace being provided by the insertion that joins the hankies together.


Here is a way in which a dainty and useful little camisole can easily be fashioned from three pretty kerchiefs. These will provide the main foundation, besides which will be required eight yards of narrow insertion, three yards of lace for edging and a few yards of coloured bebe ribbon.

Fig 1. The Finished Camisole. 1912

Fig.1 The Finished Camisole

The handkerchief bodice can be put together by simply following the diagrams here given, without the trouble of cutting out a pattern in the ordinary way. Another point in its favour is that it can be so quickly made and it is also econimical in cost.

Before setting to work to make the bodice, the handkerchiefs should be folded from corner to corner and pressed with a moderately hot iron to ensure a perfectly straight line across the centre. This must be cut through with a pair of scissors so that each handkerchief is divided into two equal triangular portions. The pieces can the be arranged in readiness for putting together, and it is a good plan to pin them in the required position on the background on a large sheet of paper. The side sections must be placed so that the embroidered edges will come on the outside. The centre pieces are arranged at an angle to form an embroidered V back and front.

Fig 2. Diagram Showing the Arrangement of the Front. 1912

Fig.2 Arrangement of the Front

The whole bodice is joined together with insertion and strips of the necessary length to connect the back and front to the side pieces can be cut and tacked in position. These can be carried right over from the back to the front, thus fixing the two portions together and forming the sleeve without the necessity of a seam on the shoulder. However, if preferred, the sleeve band can be fixed afterwards and neatly sewn down to the bodice with little mitred points. The prettiest way to join in the insertion is to make the embroidery points stretch over it, and each one should be sewn neatly down, the stitches being hidden in the edge. On the left side of the front, the embroidered edge should be left unjoined to the insertion, as the bodice will fasten here. The tiniest pearl buttons should be used for the purpose.

Fig 3. Diagram Showing the Arrangement of the Back. 1912

Fig.3 Arrangement of the Back

When all the sections are fastened together, the bodice may be fitted on the person for whom it is intended, as the back and front will probably need to be taken into tiny gathers, according to the width required. When these are made, the yokes, formed of strips of insertion joined neatly together, should be sewn in position, all the raw edges being turned slightly over to the right side and hidden under the insertion borders.

An edging of dainty lace will form an effective finish for the top of the camisole and round

the sleeve bands. A pattern should be selected with eyelet-holes for the purpose of threading with bebe ribbon, as this will serve the double end of giving a pretty effect and drawing up the camisole. The insertion chosen may also be one which will take a running of ribbon and it may be threaded up and down the joins. The bottom of the camisole is completed by sewing a strip of insertion under the embroidery points, so that it forms a hem to hold a ribbon or tape.

A very pretty underslip for wearing with a transparent evening blouse can be made from the pattern with silk Maltese or real lace handkerchiefs. With very choice kerchiefs of fine old lace, it is even possible on these lines to make a very effective overblouse upon a tight foundation of silk of net.


Now that holidays are once more looming large on the mental horizon, many of us turn over our under-linen to see what wants renovating and what garments we have to replace, so a description of a pretty and novel camisole... will not be amiss. Indeed, sometimes a pretty camisole has formed a charming Christmas present for a girl, and such things are found very saleable at bazaars.

Two embroidered - not lace-edged - pocket handkerchiefs, about 13" square, some lace and some ribbon, are all that are needed for this little bodice. Do not choose linen handkerchiefs, but lawn or muslin, as they are much softer. Both handkerchiefs must be cut in half diagonally; then one diagonal is cut diagonally again. Now join these diagonals with lace insertion, so as to form a strip like this:-

Fig 4. Diagram Showing the Arrangement of Front and Back. 1908

Fig.4 Arrangement of Front & Back

You will see that the pieces A and B form one handkerchief, and C and D D are half and two quarters of the other handkerchief. One and three-quarter yards of insertion will be enough for the joining. Now measure 9 inches from the front and scoop out armholes, as indicated in the diagram, and put a strip of tape - about 8-9 inches - to go over the arm. This will strengthen the armhole, which is apt to be waek if only lace is used. Finish off the armhole by binding with tape and edging with lace. Now make a small hem at the top and bottom of the handkerchief strip, or it is daintier if the raw edges are just rolled over and the lace insertion whipped on, for a lace insertion with holes for threading ribbon through must be sewn on to the top and over the armholes all along, and also all along the bottom to draw it in to the waist. Then a lace edging is put on all along this insertion and also down the fronts, which need whipping or hemming. These fronts are, of course, on the cross, owing to the way the handkerchiefs have to be cut; and so they must be strengthened to wash and wear well. The best way, therefore, is to turn down the hems with tape, which keeps them perfectly firm. Run bebe ribbon through the holes in the insertion, and the little garment is finished. Four and a half yards of edging, two and a half yards of "holey" insertion [lace beading] and four yards of ribbon will be ample. Some may think there is a clumsiness about a garment that is not gored to the waist, but the softness of the handkerchiefs prevents their looking in the least bulky.

Return to Articles Menu

  Click Here to Return Home

Click Here To Return To Top Of Page

Entire website Copyright Ladies Treasury 2002
unless otherwise stated