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Book Review: The Printed Square: Vintage Handkerchief Patterns for Fashion and Design square Full view

Book Review: The Printed Square: Vintage Handkerchief Patterns for Fashion and Design

As an embroidery artist whose “canvas” is often the humble handkerchief, I couldn’t wait to flick through a book jam-packed with examples of handkerchief design from the mid-twentieth century, categorised in a swathe of colour.
Each section begins with a witty or poignant literary quote about the colour it showcases, which particularly appeals to me as I trained as a writer.
There’s plenty of food for thought for textile artists of a conceptual bent, too. In the book’s history of handkerchiefs, we learn that there have been many different “languages” of handkerchiefs throughout history, right up to the present day. For me, this is certainly sparking off lots of ideas for phrases and images to embroider on to vintage handkerchiefs of my own!
For me, this is the real treat The Printed Square has to offer; it led me to realise just what a fascinating backstory such a simple and seemingly mundane accessory has. Handkerchiefs have always been bound up with romance; from Tudor times to the present, they have been used as love (or lust!) tokens. They can symbolise so many different things; partings, loss, sorrow, sentimentality, and love. All of which are subjects I explore in my conceptual embroidered art. But which came first; the handkerchiefs, or the creative concepts? As my handkerchief collection is growing at quite an alarming rate, it’s hard to tell.
Kate Rolison is a Significant Seams volunteer and embroidery artist. She blogs over at http://poesiegrenadine.com/
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