I have a hard time buying Christmas gifts. It's not that I don't want to give gifts to my friends and family. On the contrary - I love giving gifts! The thing is, I would much rather MAKE the gifts. There are a couple of reasons for this. First of all, I'm Cheap, and I'm always looking for ways to save money. But secondly, and most importantly, I love to be creative and give people something that they can't go out and buy at any old store.
This past Christmas was no different. I made a few different things, but the items I spent the most time on were lavender sachets that I gave to all the women in my family, and to a lot of my women friends. Lavender is my favorite fragrance, and it is very plentiful in Spain. It makes me happy. I wanted to share something from this country that I love, with those at home, whom I also love! Silly me, didn't take photos of the process, so I'll improvise. Thanks, Mom, for the photo of the final product!
The arsenal of supplies:
Here's how I made these little heavenly smelling numbers:
- Gather the lavender flowers. Fortunately for me, this was easy. Lavender is EVERYWHERE in Spain. They use it for shrubs in medians, it grows wild on hillsides... I spent a few months collecting lavender wands whenever I would see them (that didn't look owned by someone else! I have some growing in pots, but it didn't do well last year. So I trolled the neighborhood and found a giant hillside with a path down the middle. On one side of the path was all rosemary and on the other side was all lavender. Score! At the end of the summer, city maintenance guys come along and cut it all down. And THROW IT AWAY! Shameful. Anyways...my friend Crystal and I cut two large tote bags full of lavender, since they were going to throw it away.
- Dry the flowers. I like to keep them on the wand, but cut off the leaves. They just get in the way. Keep them open to the air. I put them in a large box lid, fluffing & rotating them every once in a while. If you don't dry the flowers first, before putting them in a container, they start to get kinda moist & rotten smelling. Defeats the purpose. They'll probably mold, too.
- De-flower the wands. It's much easier to do this when the flowers are dry as opposed to fresh. You can just run your fingers down the wand a few time and that will get most of them. I'm kinda anal about not wasting one single flower. I'm weird like that. This was an activity that I liked to do while watching movies, since I can't sit & watch something without feeling guilty if I'm not also accomplishing something else. I stored the flowers in cleaned out bean jars, but use whatever you have.
- Cut the fabric. I don't measure, if I don't absolutely have to. I also don't mark. I do a lot of eyeball-ing. I used the TELKA dish towel from Ikea. They were only 39 EURO cents each, and I got 9 sachets out of each towel. Talk about thrifty! Basically, I cut the towel like this: For the long rectangular pieces, I folded them in half so that one side had a red stripe at the bottom and one side was just plain white. For the shorter rectangular pieces, I just put those together so that each side of the sachet had a stripe at the bottom.
- Decorate the fabric. Do this before sewing, in case you mess one up, then you haven't wasted the time of sewing. I used a bird stamp and a red stamp pad for the image. The bird had nothing to do with lavender, but I liked the image, and no one seemed to be bothered by it. :) I have this set that my mom bought for me. I love it! Cavallini has some beautiful stamps. I also used a red sharpie to write "Spanish Lavender" above the stamp. I tested the fabric first to make sure it wouldn't bleed.
- Sew the pieces together. I used a sewing machine I borrowed from a friend, but these could be done by hand. Put the pieces right sides facing each other & sew the edges together, leaving about an inch and a half open on the end. Clip the corners and turn right-side out.
- Fill with lavender flowers. I made a little funnel with a piece of paper because I didn't have a funnel on hand, but it would be easier to use a real funnel. Spoon in the lavender and fill the bag mostly to the top, packing it down a little as you go. Leave enough room at the top to be able to sew it closed.
- Hand-sew it closed. Self explanatory, I hope.
These are great to put in with your sweaters, under-things, etc. I had a headache the other day and fell asleep with one of the sachets on my pillow in front of my nose. Mmmmm. I made about 40 of these things and they cost me hardly anything. They were quite time consuming for that quantity, but it was worth it. And I never once got tire of smelling lavender in my house. Happy smells. :)