Fragrances for the home are more popular than ever, from candles and incense to plug-in air fresheners. Yet, the easiest and safest way to fill your home with a favorite scent is with potpourri. These mixtures of dried florals, leaves, berries and essential oils are wonderful in a bowl or other open container, and you can add a decorative statement by encasing loose potpourri in a pretty fabric sachet that's easy to make. To make yours a more "Afrocentric" blend, try adding a few drops of sandalwood oil to revive a bowlful of potpourri whose scent has already faded.
It's fun to experiment with the many creative options for potpourri sachets. Not only can you make these a part of your overall decorating scheme, but custom-made potpourri sachets make pretty and practical gifts, too! The front of the sachet can be almost any fabric, from festive velvet to earth-toned mudcloth. You can even make a small patchwork containing several coordinating fabrics. In order to enjoy optimal fragrance, choose a sheer but fairly firm fabric for the back, such as organza, in a color that works with the front fabric. A simple hanging loop sewn into the corner lets you hang the sachet anywhere for instant room freshening. Choose different shapes, sizes and scents for variety of uses:
· Fill sachets with light scents and suspend from clothes hangers to freshen any closet
· Offer the gift of relaxation with rectangular sachets of soft satin; they'll soothe tired eyelids when filled with aromatherapy blends of potpourri.
· For a luxurious gift set, hang a few sachets on coordinating satin-covered lingerie hangers.
· Trim heart-shaped sachets with delicate lace for a touch of elegance in a guest bathroom or vanity area.
· For a unique nursery accent, replace the little wooden or plastic shapes on a store-bought nursery mobile with several different sachet shapes (round, square, triangular, etc.) Perfect with a softy scented baby powder potpourri. Be sure to hang the mobile out of baby's reach!
The front of your sachet can even be a showcase for your other creative talents, such as hand painting, needlepoint, adinkra stamping, photo transfer or appliquÈ. It's easiest to apply these creative techniques before you sew the sachet. Not too handy with a sewing machine?
Although machine-sewing is my method of choice, the small size of this project also lends itself to simple hand stitching or even glue gun assembly. Lastly, for sachets that will be made to hang, be sure to match to select a hanging cord that matches the look and mood of the fabric. For instance, try strands of raffia or twine with mudcloth, or a silky rattail cording for a satin sachet.
For a sachet measuring approximately 4 x 4 inches you'll need:
Decorative front fabric*, 5 x 5 inches square (or your desired shape)
Back fabric (sheer organza or same as decorative front fabric), 5 x 5
Loose potpourri, approximately 1 cup
Cording for hanging loop, 8 inches long
Sewing machine or hand sewing needle or glue gun
** 1. To create a pieced or patchwork front fabric, sew fabric scraps together randomly, adding one at a time until the entire piece is larger than 5 inches square. Press all seams flat. Trim to size.
2. With right sides together, pin the sachet front to the back, having all edges even. Fold hanging cord in half. Between the two layers, position the hanging cord in one corner, with its two ends extending out from the sachet, and the loop facing in toward the center. Pin into place.
3. Sew, hand stitch or glue around the edges, taking in a ½ inch seam allowance. Be careful not to get the hanging cord loop caught in the stitches or glue. Leave a 3 inch section opening for turning right side out and filling. (It's easier to turn and fill an opening along a straight edge of the sachet, so place your opening between two corners, rather than exactly on a corner.)
4. Turn sachet right side out. Press. Fill with potpourri to desired firmness. Turn in ½ inch along the opening edges and sew or glue the opening.
For more information on the exhibit pieces, please visit the What's New/Events page at www.CulturedExpressions.com.
What does your living space say about you? What would you like it to say? If you're looking for Afrocentric inspiration, I hope you'll enjoy this column. I'll also try to address specific questions through the column wherever possible, so please feel free to contact me: Lisa@CulturedExpressions.com.
Lisa Shepard is a writer and designer based in New Jersey. She has held several positions in the sewing / craft / textile industries. She began collecting African fabrics after a trip to Senegal in 1986. Her book, "African Accents: Fabrics and Crafts to Decorate Your Home" (available October 1999) features over 40 home decorating projects you can make yourself, using mudcloth, korhogos, adinkra, kente cloth and Kuba cloth, as well as detailed descriptions of how these fabrics are produced. For more information, please visit http://www.culturedExpressions.com
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