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Merry Month of May Flower Petal Sachets

By Alison Steele

The Spring garden is snowing delicate petals of pinks and whites. Bees smother the blue blossoms of rosemary bushes, and the heady scent of French Lilac leaves me daydreaming long past the short moments I typically allow. Heading to the patio for a late morning banjo session I spy the rambling rose loaded with ruby red buds. After the bees douse themselves in the glory of this bloomin’ rosebush I’ll buzz in and harvest what I need to refresh my yearly supply of the potent medicine that is the rose petal. 

The wildcrafting pantry slash art closet, is in serious disarray after a couple months of school projects since winter break. I ignore the strewn about printer paper and pencil shavings dusting the 100 year old beadboard shelves and move to my garden goods of last summer. As I start a new collection of potent dried petals and herbs for medicine and skin care, the ones from last year are rotated into sachets and such for Mother’s Day and other summer celebrations.

I cannot tell you how many sachets, eye pillows, and potpourri baskets I’ve made for my mama and other women in my family. The meticulous fun of draping and patternmaking are low on my priority list now with downsizing and simplifying climbing to the top. There are dresses aplenty to be found, along with the fun of digging through vintage racks with my girl, but somehow I am still drawn to the needlecraft of days long ago. The days when women would gather to quilt or sip country wine while adjourning to the porch to rock and stitch, catching up on the latest news and tricks to make dinner-making easier. How could we know what all of our friends ate for lunch or the absolute latest in beauty or garden trends? News traveled slow, from mouth to mouth upon a visit, a phone call, or even a letter. Those moments are documented in these beautiful pillowcase embroideries.

This simple garden craft won’t keep you seated for too long and can even be stitched by hand quite quickly over tea and a bite on the porch. It’s a simple craft that brings as much joy to the maker as it does the receiver. I don’t have much time to drape and patternmake these days, but I do have moments here and there to turn tattered antique pillowcases into scented sachets. Hide them beneath your favorite seat cushion or tuck them into your favorite boots, weight them with dried beans and dot them with lavender oil to use on tops of eyes or shoulders when a headache comes knocking. Throw them into the dryer when spring cleaning your bedding. They smell lovely, and preserve a beautiful part of our past.

What You’ll Need

Embroidered textiles like old pillowcases or stained and tattered tea towels

Dried flower petals and herbs like lavender, oriental poppy, lilac, olive flower, spearmint, rose, elderflower, violets, lemon balm, calendula, ranunculus, daffodils, and citrus peel. Use whatever you’ve harvested and dried from last summer to make space for the coming summer’s bounty of potent floral properties.

Then gather a bowl for mixing, needle and thread, shears, and pins.

Using a ruler and chalk, lightly trace four sides around the needlework you are trying to preserve, leaving about an inch or more of seam allowance. Pin together right sides facing each other and sew three sides of the rectangle about a half inch in from each edge. Make sure to lock the stitch at the beginning and end.

Turn the work right side out and use your fingernail to press the seams straight.  Loosely fill halfway to ¾ full with fragrant dried herbs and flower petals. Turn the opening edges to the inside and fingernail iron about ½ inch from the edge. Pin together if you’d like. Whip stitch the opening closed or simply tie it with a beautiful ribbon. Wish them a happy day and mention that in the time it took to make this garden gift, you thought of them with love and admiration. Happy Mother’s Day!

Alison Steele

A native of Virginia, Alison Steele lives with her family and cat in Boulder Creek where she raises quail, chickens, fruit trees, vegetables, and herbs. Alison plays banjo and sings in Sugar by the Pound.

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