How to Make a 70’s Handkerchief Top

I love creating historically accurate doll clothes. Ivy and Julie are fun and easy to create for because it isn’t too hard to make sure I am using an accurate design. The 70s are recent enough that are plenty of photographs as well as plenty of people around who lived during that particular decade. My mom was a teenager in the 70s, so I always run my outfit ideas for Ivy and Julie past her before proceeding. I recently picked up some vintage handkerchiefs at a flea market for the purpose of doll clothes and accessories, and one in particular struck me as a good fit for Julie or Ivy. I knew that in the 70s there was a style of top that was literally called a “handkerchief top”, though obviously full-sized human beings would not have a top made out of an actual handkerchief. It just so happens that an actual handkerchief makes a perfect doll-sized handkerchief top, though! A Google search revealed a number of styles that seemed to be popular during the 70s, but I chose this simple, poncho-like style that I thought would work perfectly using just my single handkerchief.

It’s really easy to make, here’s how I did it:

Using a ruler and a fabric marker, measure to find the center of your handkerchief.

Draw a 3 1/4 inch square to be your neck opening. I conveniently had a nice square pattern in on the fabric to follow, but it doesn’t matter if you don’t.

Zig-zag stitch around your square, using a nice tight zig-zag.

Cut open your square carefully. I used my rotary cutter to get close to the edge of the stitching.

I eyeballed the sleeve placement and marked it with a pin, and then stitched a small seam in that spot.

I think Ivy looks groovy! Let me know if you try this!



12 Comments Add yours

  1. That’s so cute, and super easy!


  2. Flo says:

    That’s fantastic! I’ll have to keep my eyes open for vintage handkerchiefs at thrift stores. I wonder if bandanas would be too big?


  3. Sharry says:

    Super groovy!


  4. bennettv says:

    Adorable! She looks super groovy! 🙂 What a great idea!

    ginnie /


    1. Emily says:

      Looks like August was a great month! Thanks so much for the mention!


  5. MERmade9 says:

    I LOVE this and I love my Julie. I see Ivy on EBay and one day I’ll take the plunge and buy one, hopefully. Have some antique hankies, but don’t think any that will work quite as perfectly as yours does for the ’70’s girls, but will keep my eyes open for one from now on! Enjoying your blog!!!


    1. Emily says:

      Thanks so much for reading! This is a fun project, I hope you do it!


  6. MERmade9 says:

    Oops, me again – forgot to say that since you sew, check out my post from today which includes a free Eclipse graphic link if you’re interested in sewing something eclipse-related. 😉


    1. Emily says:

      Hey thanks I will definitely check it out! I’ve been behind on blog stuff for a few weeks (I’m a teacher and have been busy starting the school year) so I’m late in seeing this, but I bet my dolls would still love some eclipse apparel!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. MERmade9 says:

    Worked in an elementary & Middle School office, so I totally understand the long hours teachers put in to prepare for and through each school year. I hope you have a wonderful year! 😉


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