It’s that celebratory time of year again and we are thrilled, aren't you? Well, minus the holiday jingles of course. Now that November is upon us, scary October thoughts are packed away with Halloween decorations and we welcome any and all reasons to gather with friends and family. Enticing scents of holiday spices are starting to sneak in and the spirit of making and sharing is front and center.
We look forward to upcoming meals shared with good company, so we are inclined to provide some little touches that will make these moments more special and lasting. Inspired by the traditional Japanese sachet called “nioi-bukuro” (nioi means scent, bukuro means pouch) we have created a design for small scented tokens that we will use at each place setting on our holiday table. This handmade sachet will make an elegant place marker and then later can be tucked into your guest’s pocket or dresser as a scented reminder of a special celebration.
As sensory memories go, research shows that your nose helps spark memories better than your eyes and ears. Turns out we have more receptors for smell, so when we sniff something familiar, our emotional memory center is easily triggered. That is why scents found in gingerbread and pumpkin pie can instantly take us back to memories of holidays past. For our sachets, we have eschewed the expected pairing of clove, nutmeg and cinnamon for a more lively combination of holiday flavors. We are using orange peel, ginger, lavender and cardamom with a finish of cinnamon. The citrus and ginger lighten up the mix, and the lavender and cardamom add some complexity, while the cinnamon adds warmth. The overall impression brings a touch of nostalgia without a full olfactory assault. For filling your sachets, try our Holiday Scent Blend or have fun creating your own.
Dried orange peel and ginger are not readily available in the spice section of most grocery stores (penzeys.com is one source), though drying your own is an easy and worthwhile endeavor. After some peeling, a short duration in a warm oven, and a quick pulse with a spice grinder, your orange and ginger will be ready to go. Combine with lavender, cardamom and cinnamon. Holidays, here we come!
To sew our sachets, we are upcycling pieces of silk saved from a well-worn dress, and little bits of linen that we set aside while making our aprons. It is a rewarding challenge to find ways to use up scrap pieces, so that none of the pretty linen goes wasted. Look for any tightly woven (non-stretch) scraps you might have such as linen, cotton, and silk. Juxtapose the colors (and any prints) together, and gather matching and contrasting threads for stitch details. Taking color cues from citrus and cinnamon, we choose pink, orange and brown, each matched with khaki on the opposite side. The white pieces shown above are the paper patterns.
Because hand-stitching is our way of meditating, we decided a little special stitching would make these more fun. Although machine stitching is fast, there is always something about the imperfection of hand stitches that just feel more personal. Both stitch designs shown here are variations on a simple running stitch, which is the most basic stitch there is. It is the basis for japanese sashiko, and is also used in quilting. Here, it will add a nice visual texture to the finished sachets.
After the hand-stitching is complete, we cut out the fabrics and some leather cords, which you can see knotted and pinned at each end of our "football" shapes. Capturing the cords between the two fabrics, we pin the layers right sides together, and prepare for machine stitching. Note that the unknotted cord ends pop out between two pins on one side (looking a bit like alien antennae). This section will remain unstitched, in order to turn the shapes right side out and to fill them with sachet ingredients.
To tie up loose ends, we stitch up the fill holes using a tiny blindstitch. Equally distribute the contents throughout the sachet and then fold in half and finger crease the sachets into their final shapes. Tie the cords together using an overhand knot. If you'd like, capture a piece of ribbon with a name written on it, for your recipient. We bias cut some white cotton on and used a bronze paint pen to customize ours. Click on each individual photo if you'd like a close-up view.
As always, we recommend you using the links below to this tutorial as a template or launch point for your own creativity, giving yourself license to create your own scent, fabric, and stitch combinations. These sachets would be a sweet hostess gift, wonderful stocking stuffers, or a special treat for a teacher.