Sunday, September 18, 2011


Man Yung is one of those rare old birds who still carries a handkerchief in his pocket wherever he goes. Hmmm...perhaps rare only in North America - because many of the milongueros in Buenos Aires still use handkerchiefs! Come to think of it, hankies are not just quaint, they are quite handy - to mop sweat from your brow, to soak up unexpected spills from your alcoholic beverage, to wipe the doggie doo off the shoe of your dance partner (yes, it has happened - haven't written about that yet!) - and of course, to dab away the tears from the eyes of ladies whose hearts you have just broken*. A rumpled kleenex just doesn't have the same kind of "je ne sais quoi".

* But please, not all at once - and not all with the same hankie before washing!

After I stumbled across a tutorial on how to make rolled hem handkerchiefs at The Purl Bee's website - I became an even rarer bird than men who carry hankies. I became a person who makes hankies by hand. And here they are!

My handmade handkerchiefs for Man Yung - he used my new linen Anthropologie Odille "Sailboat Skirt" as a backdrop. I love that skirt - I don't care that it is mid-September, I'm wearing it to Tango!

I made these five rolled hem handkerchiefs from 100% cotton "fat quarters" - scraps of cloth originally for quilting, measuring 18" x 22". I trimmed off the extra 4" and was left with a square of 18" x 18" - perfect for a larger size handkerchief. Just a bit of trivia for you: the famous Hermés scarves sport hand rolled hems so fine, they roll the hems towards the front of the scarf so you can admire the handiwork as well as the print.

Here's another photo showing some of the hand sewn rolled hems. I'm much more of a knitter than a sewer so my sewing isn't perfect (actually, it's terrible). I'm quite proud I managed to make these!

Some men would be afraid of this particular selection of fabrics - but not Man Yung! He will use and wear whatever pattern in whatever colour that strikes his fancy. In fact, Man Yung's sartorial choices are more intrepid than the ones made by most women!

I can't wait to use this rolled hem technique to make some extra fancy scarves and handkerchiefs from Liberty of London Tana Lawn - 100% cotton fabric that is so smooth and light, it looks and feels like silk. Can you take me to The Workroom next weekend, Man Yung?

Lastly: I, too, have a Hankie/Tango story: The first time I danced with Osvaldo Cartery, he put his hankie in his left hand to shield my hand from his sweaty palms. Or was it to shield his hand from my sweaty, grimy paws? In any case, what a considerate gentleman! (and here's the video to prove it):

Forgive the shaky beginning of the video - Man Yung was really confused by the camera. And look - both Osvaldo and I were a lot skinnier back then! We took this at El Arranque - we were there post-Camicando 2007 with Martha and Manolo and Osvaldo and Coca. Afterwards we all went to a tenedor libre, and then a walk down Lavalle where Osvaldo grooved to reggae music and they handed Manolo flyers - to see a Tango Show!


Elizabeth Brinton said...

Thanks for the idea of learning to do the rolled hem! I love this idea for making scarves, hankies and even delicate hems for tango skirts. E

Irene and Man Yung said...

Dear Elizabeth,

In fact, I just finished a large scarf using this technique! Too bad the cotton fabric I used was a little too thick - instead of a whisper light scarf I have a mini-tablecloth.

Thanks for your comment, please post photos of your handiwork if you have a chance to try the rolled hem technique out!


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