How to show off a vintage handkerchief on a ring pillow

Martha Stewart Weddings, Spring 2009

I want to use my grandmother's lovely lace-edged handkerchief for my ring pillow. What is the best way to show it off?

By dressing up a ring pillow with a vintage heirloom, you can incorporate a cherished something old with an important something new: the wedding rings. You can attach the handkerchief to a small square pillow with no more than a few hand-stitches -- when the wedding is over, a quick snip of the scissors releases the vintage fabric with no harm done. To highlight the lace, choose a pillow in a color that will contrast with the handkerchief.

For a design that shows off all the corner details of a square, use a pillow about two-thirds of the size of the handkerchief (if the handkerchief is ten inches square, use a six-inch pillow). First, lay the handkerchief face down, and iron it smooth. If you like, use a spray starch to keep the filigree of the lace in place. Set the ring pillow on top, and fold in the handkerchief's corners to meet in the middle. Pin corners to hold the handkerchief while you stitch. With a needle and a thread that matches the handkerchief, sew the corners (leave the sides of the handkerchief loose). Make tiny stitches, sewing close to the threads of the lace itself; start and end your stitches underneath the body of the handkerchief so the knot and the anchoring stitches will not be visible.

A small decorative handkerchief could be laid on top of a slightly larger pillow and sewn into position at the corners or along the edges.

If your ring pillow doesn't have a tie for the rings, sew a ribbon at the center, stitching through all layers.

Should you have trouble finding a pillow in the color and dimensions you need, you can simply sew two squares of silk together, right sides facing; leave an opening on one side to turn it inside out and stuff, then stitch it closed. This can be done by hand if you don't own a sewing machine, or a seamstress or a friend who sews might make one for you. Using your treasured heirloom in this way will add another layer of sentiment, making it even more meaningful.

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