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14 October 2014

Working for myself: handkerchiefs

When I receive a lovely personalised handkerchief order, it's not sent to some centralised office where a handkerchief is pulled out of storage, having been pre-made in a far east factory. I make each handkerchief from scratch and to order for every customer. It is just me. No factory, no team of makers.



But what does that process involve?
Well, it includes little ol' me and myself going in person to my local, trusted fabric shops and sourcing soft, 100% cotton. The cotton is then washed, carefully aired and ironed. I then test the fabric. That involves making an entire handkerchief from scratch and trialing hand embroidery on to the fabric. 
The trial embroidery will include testing a range of different colours to get the perfect match and ensuring the embroidery stands out through carefully selecting the right embroidery stitch and the right font. Once I'm happy with this, I will then make a whole new handkerchief again and photograph it and upload the picture on to my Etsy and Notonthehighstreet shops.
But what happens when a personalised order is received?
I firstly check that I can do the personalised order. Sometimes customers ask for a completely different personalisation, so I have to make sure I can deliver on that. With the chosen fabric I iron it again, then cut out the handkerchief size required (leaving a hem allowance all the way around). Using my overlocker, I create a beautiful rolled hem around the handkerchief and then dampen the edges to ensure the water soluble pen mark (which I used to draw the handkerchief square with) is completely washed out. 
After the handkerchief has dried, it's back to the ironing board again for another press before slip stitching the tails formed from the overlocker neatly into the rolled hem. Next I hand embroider the personalised option chosen and further hand sew an 'Adventures & Tea Parties' label on to the back of the handkerchief at one of the hem edges.
It's back to the ironing board again for a final press and a final check. When I'm happy with it and it's nicely folded into a square or rectangle (this shape depends on the size of the handkerchief), I then start preparing the gift wrapping. I offer additional gift wrapping, which includes a 100% recycled sturdy cardboard box filled with 100% recycled shredded paper. I carefully place the handmade, personalised handkerchief in the gift box, pop the lid on and select a ribbon to compliment the colour of the handkerchief. This is then cut to size, wrapped around the box and tied into a bow. I always tidy the ends of the bow up by cutting them to ensure they're even.
Next I stamp an envelope, write the address on and check this twice by looking the address up on the Royal Mail website. I then print the receipt and pop this and the gift wrapped handkerchief in the parcel, with some pretty washi tape at the edge to ensure it's secure. It's then off down to my local post office to send it on its way by first class post and job done! 

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