Introduction: Handkerchief Wedding Program

What's a better way to present your wedding program to your guests than with a custom handkerchief to catch all those happy tears and remember the event for years to come?

The technique I used on my handkerchiefs is a remix of the way this cool bangle was made.

Step 1: Materials

SolarFast Dye and Wash

Film Marker

SolarFast Film


Handkerchiefs - Any natural fabric will do.

Inkjet Printer

Printer Paper

Scrapbook Paper


Cutting Mat

X-Acto Knife

Double Stick Tape or Glue Stick

2 Large Paper Punches (1.75" and 2")

Step 2: Prepare Film

You have two options here. You can use the film marker to draw your design or you can print it on an inkjet printer. I chose to use the film marker since I wanted a simple design and wanted to try the marker.

With a film marker:

Print your design on your printer.

Tape the film over your design and trace it onto the sticky side of the film with the film marker. If you can't figure out which side of the film is the sticky side, wet a finger and touch the corner of the film. It will be obvious.

With a printer:

SolarFast has full sheets of film for use in printers. Make sure to figure out how to insert your film into the printer so that it prints on the sticky side.

Step 3: Guide

Wrap a cookie sheet, cutting board, or other hard portable surface with foil.

Cut or fold your design so you can trace the area that needs to be dyed onto the foil. This is going to allow you to ensure you get dye where your design will be.

Lay your handkerchief onto the foil.

Step 4: Applying Dye

Before beginning, ensure you are in an area with no UV/natural light. Most lightbulbs emit a very minimal amount of UV light if any. So basically, stay away from windows or close the curtains tightly.

The application of the dye is up to you. You could dye the whole handkerchief by watering the dye down in a bowl and soaking the whole thing. I opted to apply my dye with a sponge.

Pour some dye onto a plate. Dip the sponge into the dye and apply it to the handkerchief. Make sure you apply generously to the area marked on the foil.

Lay your film over the handkerchief. I taped it in place, but realized quickly that it wasn't necessary. The wetness of the dye will hold the film in place unless it's particularly windy.

Step 5: Expose the Dye

Take your handkerchief outside and expose to direct sunlight. The brighter and more direct the light, the faster the dye will darken. It will still work on a cloudy day, but it will take longer. I exposed my handkerchiefs to the sun for somewhere between 3-5 minutes.

Step 6: Setting the Dye

Bring the handkerchief back inside and set away from UV light.

Fill the kitchen sink with the hottest water possible for your fabric and add 2 capfuls of the SolarFast wash. The wash sets the dye and prevents it from further exposing.

Remove the film from your handkerchief and add the handkerchief to the wash in the sink.

Agitate for a few minutes to rinse out the dye. I used gloves to protect my hands from the heat.

Rinse the dye from the back of the film, but do your best not to let too much water get on the sticky side. The water can cause the ink to run.

After the handkerchief has been washed for about 10 minutes, it can be hung to dry.

You may also want to iron the handkerchiefs while they're still damp.

Step 7: Notes on Bulk Dyeing

If you get some water on the front of your film it isn't the end of the world. It will look hazy, but the sun will still get through.

When making multiples of these handkerchiefs, I recommend making several films. This will allow you to expose several at once. You can also let the handkerchiefs soak in the sink while you continue to make more.

When dyeing in bulk, don't pour more dye on the plate than you're going to use in about 15 minutes. A few minutes of minimal UV light from seeping drapes or light bulbs won't hurt, but the minimal exposure will build up with time.

Step 8: Alternately

As an alternative, you could design any handkerchief you want and have it printed on You can even have it printed on silk! I've attached the digital version I created of my SolarFast handkerchief in case you'd like to edit it for your own use.

The downside of this method is that you would have to stitch the edges of all the hankies yourself. However, you may be able to get away with just cutting the edges with pinking shears instead.

Step 9: Folding Handkerchiefs

Step 10: Strap

Design a central circle for your strap or modify the one I've attached.

Use a paper punch to cut out the designs.

Use a larger punch to cut out another circle in a contrasting accent color.

Cut 1.5" strips of scrapbooking paper.

Step 11: Program

Design a program that fits the front of your folded handkerchief or modify the one I've attached.

Cut your programs out.

Additionally, cut out pieces of accent paper that are slightly larger than the program.

Step 12: Assemble

Tape (or glue) all your pieces together.

Wrap your strap around the program and handkerchief and tape (or glue) the back.

Step 13: Impress

Lay out the programs and enjoy the lack of ugly crying at your beautiful ceremony.

These would also make great invitations or gifts for the wedding party.

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