A few years ago, when we launched TSHU, all our handkerchiefs were made by a small sewing shop in Montreal. Thomas and I knew nothing about sewing! But we quickly realized that making handkerchiefs also meant creating waste.
And since we were creating handkerchiefs to reduce waste, we didn’t really like the idea of creating hankies that wouldn’t serve. Between the samples, the printing and fabric defects, mistakes that happened at the time of assembly, stained handkerchiefs and imperfect handkerchiefs, there was quite a bit of waste! So that’s when we came up with the idea of selling these “orphan” handkerchiefs at a lower cost.
We believed that by offering this, we would have
1_ The opportunity to offer cheaper handkerchiefs to a clientele that might not be able to afford our beautiful, high quality handkerchiefs
2_ The opportunity for beginners or curious people to test our products without having to invest in a full set before being won over!
And that’s how the orphans were born.
So, when you order orphans, what do you get?
First of all, there are several categories of orphans, sold in small sets or individually depending on the type of product:
Now, let’s talk about our orphan handkerchiefs, to give you an idea of what you could get when you buy a pack of 5.
I LOVE creating new handkerchiefs… And testing new fabrics! But I’m not always happy with the result. So these cute samples aren’t really imperfect, they’re just not perfect enough for me to want to put them up for sale via the online store!
Handkerchiefs that suffered textile printing issues
Some of our hanky designs feature beautiful, unique patterns that are screen printed manually on our soft, silky cotton sateen or cotton linen. During the printing process, so many things can happen… A template shifts and the colours don’t align, a hanky is stained with oil from the machines, a thread fell on the surface while the ink was wet and left a mark on a solid colour… And so on! Sometimes you can see it right away before you sew the handkerchief together—so you put the fabric aside to find another use for it! (like repurposing the part that isn’t defective to make a small makeup remover wipe). But other times, the hanky is already put together before we realize that it is imperfect. And there you have it, a new orphan sees the day!
Handkerchiefs made with defective fabric (and I noticed it too late).
In addition to printing problems, it also happens (rarely, but it happens) that the fabric arrives at the shop already damaged! I’ve received flannel with holes in it… Cotton with a pulled thread across the roll… And even once, fabric filled with little moth holes!!!! It may seem surprising—especially since we order from professional suppliers, who offer high quality materials… But although it’s pretty rare, it happens, even to the best of us. So of course, there goes another orphan!
Handkerchiefs that have been victims of a fussy embroidery machine
This one is quite common. And I really hope that my new embroidery machine is not as fussy as the previous one! What happens is that from time to time, when embroidering initials on a handkerchief, the thread tension doesn’t cooperate… Or the thread breaks. And then, it really doesn’t look good! So it’s a waste of a perfect handkerchief… Unless it’s adopted by new parents, as an orphan!
Handkerchiefs that have had one or more mistakes during assembly
Did you know? When assembling a lined handkerchief, the two sides must face each other in the same direction of the weave. Otherwise, when you wash it, the handkerchief twists in two different directions… And it’s not pretty, I swear! It’s somewhat similar for cotton sateen, which needs to have its sateen side on the front to be all smooth and silky. Usually, everything goes well during the assembly. But once in a while you get a little distracted… Or the lighting is not quite good enough… And the handkerchief is assembled all wrong. So these too join the pile of orphans!
We rarely know how it happens… You know, like when you realize that your beautiful white t-shirt has a grease stain and you curse our existence because you didn’t see it in time to rub it or soak it out! Well, this also happens to our friends the handkerchiefs, even if we take every precaution to keep them away from potential stain sources!
Handkerchiefs that are simply not perfect
When assembling a handkerchief with an overlock machine, you have to adjust the settings according to the type of thread, the thickness of the fabric and the type of fabric too. Sometimes you think you’ve mastered it, but all of a sudden the edge of the handkerchief curls… Or it wrinkles. And on a regular sewing machine, other things can happen that you can’t control… Like the fabric slipping and the stitching going off track. Often with a standard sewing machine you can fix it… But if the fabric is too thin or the stitch is too tight, it just doesn’t work. So in that case, I leave it as is and it’s gone in the pile of orphans!
Finally, when there are few handkerchiefs left of a style and I don’t plan to make more (either because it is no longer possible to have access to that fabric, or because it’s time to say goodbye), I replace the model and the old versions end up with their orphan friends.
In any case, our orphans make a lot of people happy… Here is a glimpse of what our beloved customers think of our orphans:
Now that you know everything there is to know about orphans, feel free to check them out!