Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Handmade Pocket Squares

"Sale Price: $75".  That was the tag on a pocket square I found recently.  I put it back as quickly as I had picked it up.  $75?  Once in a while, a nice Hermes square fits the bill handsomely, but they are a bit more than just a simple pattern on silk... many are nearly art pieces themselves, and with a pricetag to match.  From plains to patterns, there are endless directions that one can take when choosing them.  When a friend decided that the shops were not offering anything unique, the dapperjack allowed his frustration an outlet and began putting together his own squares.  While he works occasionally in silk, vivid cottons are his preferred textile, and he produces some unique and eye-catching squares.  Always double sided, his pieces stand sturdy in the pocket, and whether in peaks or folded edges they become a bold and talked about element whenever worn.

Another touch, is the bordering high-contrast threads color he chooses, perhaps as a mark of "hand-made", drawing attention to the fact that they are stitched together from two independent pieces of fabric.  Sometimes, the fabrics on either side represent two opposing or complimenting views or moods, sometimes they are just two different fabrics that look great together with no meaning behind them.


Below, a square with nouns on one side as a tribute to a baby son's first word, finished with a striking midnight blue and patterned backing:


A dark square with contrasting white stitching as tribute to a wife's beloved childhood pet:


Other Adventures In Pocket Squarery

I had some surplus silk I found 15 years ago in Charlottesville, VA, and took it from its hibernation den shoebox and brought it to Beacon Hill Cleaners (151 Charles St. Boston) who are capable of truly elegant stitching and making clothing fit right.  They turned my two yards of postage-stamp patterned silk into a scarf and two pocket squares.

A thrift store in Keene, NH offered this vivid and LARGE scarf for fifty cents.  While my eyes are always on the lookout for navy/white pocket squares, this one had another surprise.

Some slender and attractive Nordic neck was once kept fashionably warm while greeting passengers.

Below, a stack of thin-yet-lasting linens with appropriate initials were found for $1 each on an antiquer's booth table at Brimfield (, and can peak out of a jacket pocket or wait in another pocket to be deployed should a teary citizen present themselves on a neighboring subway seat.

The underside of each shows a small reminder of the larger design perhaps for those with poor short-term memory.

And finally, some old and gallantly-served Jermyn Street-made shirts get one last hurrah in the wardrobe, this time as handkerchiefs.

Some brightly patterned silk from Chinatown awaits its rebirth:


  1. These pocket squares are fantastic! I'd love to know how to make these as well. I need to find some source for fabric other than JoAnn Fabrics... very limited. Do you have any suggestions? Great blog!

  2. Those are truly exceptional pieces...i use to sew m own ps as well, it´s a great way to ensure a second life for some odd fabric...real individuality at the prize of nothing.

  3. Silk Regimental,
    I'll have this information for you soon, including the how-to from the maker himself. In the immediate, eBay always has plenty of surplus silk ends (smaller pieces are obviously better than yardage) so you don't end up having to make 30 of the same piece.

  4. Call me sentimental, but my favorite of the bunch is the white rabbits. We had a hutch with a couple of them when I was a child (instead of a cat or a dog) and they were my little buddies. Super cute print that I would certainly not be ashamed to sport.

    The blue dot print from Chinatown is remarkably similar to a vintage (I'm guessing 60s or so) Hermes tie that I have. In fact, when I first saw it, I actually thought that's what it was.

    Oddly enough, I have a couple "pocket squares" that are bold-printed Vera scarves in smaller sizes that work perfectly when scrunched right. Good stuff.

  5. Y-W-P -- thanks for the tip on the silk-ends etc. And thanks (in advance) for looking into the instructions.

    Best wishes!

  6. I happen to have a long scarf that I got from a friend of a friend who owns a silk business in Laos, the maker of some of those intricate pieces you find at Hermes. He told me that it takes one of his expert weavers about five days of labor to make a scarf like that. In such cases, it's easy to understand that the price must fairly be rather high, justified because the traditional craftsmanship it embodies is visible at a glance-- it's a pleasure to put it on, and helps me pay tribute to the occasions on which I wear it.

    What burns me up, on the other hand, is when I see machine-made silk with printed patterns being sold at a price that assumes it to be the same sort of thing. I often see gentlemen who can tell two shirts apart and who take pride in their best shoes blandly paying through the nose for pocket squares of such material. This is why for me the simple, handmade cotton squares of our friend mentioned in the post (who also supplies many of my own pocket squares) seem to me an extremely dignified solution to the present day's return to the adornment of the jacket pocket. Thriving on the cheapness of the machine-made fabric but with a careful aesthetic eye as the key part of handicraft that turns this fabric into finished squares, he beautifully solves the riddle of the $75 pocket square. Hear, hear.

  7. These are very beautiful pocket squares. I love the choice of fabrics.

    I make and sell bow ties & cummerbunds and would like to offer matching pocket squares. What would be a good size for a double-sided pocket square, made of cotton fabrics?

    Thanks for your help,


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