Make Scented Potpourri And Sachets

Potpourri is easy to make and fun to give, and decorative sachets are the perfect way to express your creativity.

If you have a rose garden or grow other scented flowers, making potpourri is a good way to enjoy your flowers long after their blooming season has passed. While bags of potpourri may be bought at most stores, imagine the satisfaction of using and giving as gifts potpourri made from your own garden. You might begin to grow flowers and aromatic herbs with potpourri in mind. Lavender is both attractive in the garden and a powerhouse of the potpourri world. Lemon balm, pineapple sage, a whole host of different geranium scents, your visit to the nursery for new plants can be a feast for the nose.

Making your own potpourri takes some time and some space to spread out, but it's not difficult. Potpourri is dried scented materials, often enhanced with scented oils. You'll want your mixture to look attractive as well as smell good, so gather your materials with both aspects in mind. In addition to flower petals, there are many herbs, such as rosemary and the mint family, whose scented leaves make excellent potpourri.

Harvest flower petals when your flowers are past full bloom, but not yet withered. If harvesting rose petals, add a few of the rose hips (the round part behind the petals where the seeds develop) for bulk and visual interest. Harvest leaves when they are fully opened and not yet discoloring or withering.

Spread the petals or leaves on cookie sheets or screens and allow to dry for several days. Dry at room temperature, a low oven or a hot attic is too hot and will ruin the drying.

In addition to your dried petals and leaves, you will also want to include a fixative to make the scent last longer. Chopped or powdered orris root is a standard, or you could use chopped dried corn cobs, which you will find sold as chopped cellulose. Two tablespoons of chopped fixative, or a teaspoon of powdered, should be enough for a quart of loosely packed petals and leaves.

Begin your mixture in small batches to be sure you like the scent. Mix your dried material and the fixative thoroughly for even distribution throughout the batch. Here you can add essential oils, either the same oil as your plant mixture for a stronger scent, or different oils for a more complex scent. Keep a record of what you add, so you'll be able to reproduce your favorite mixtures. When you have a mixture you like, store in a tightly sealed jar to retain the scent until ready for use.

Once you've made your potpourri, how do you use it? To scent a room, you can place potpourri loose in a bowl on a table. This is a good use for the antique bowls you might have acquired from your grandmother or picked up at a flea market. Just stir the potpourri with your fingers occasionally as you pass by to refresh the scent and feel the gracious living!

To scent a closet or drawer, or to give as gifts, you'll want to put your potpourri in sachets, small pouches or balls that will keep the potpourri from spilling and yet release the scent.

The basic sachet is made with a piece of very fine mesh fabric, organza or other bridal veiling, the finest mesh available to keep your sachet from shedding. Sewing experience is helpful but not necessary; if you can sew well enough to sew a six inch seam, you can make a sachet. Cut a strip of fabric 5 inches wide and 12 inches long. Fold it over to make a 5 by 6 inch pouch and sew up the side seams. Turn your piece inside out, fill with potpourri, and sew a drawstring around the top or simply gather and bind.

If you've never threaded a needle in your life and don't intend to start now, you can still make a sachet. Make the ball style. Cut a circle out of your organza (to make an even circle, mark your fabric using a plate or flower pot as a guide), fill the center of the circle with potpourri, and then gather up the edges and tie closed or close with a rubber band or elastic.

Now you have a pouch or ball filled with potpourri. You can decorate the ball or pouch with ribbons, lace and silk flowers, or you can add an extra layer, placing the pouch or ball in a lacy bag. If you crochet, there are many patterns available for sachets, but if not, you can still find and make lacy sachet pouches.

Check your local thrift stores, yard sales, and estate sales for vintage lace tablecloths and doilies. Vintage linens have become collectible, so good condition tablecloths and doilies will be pricy, but that's okay because you don't want the ones in good condition. It would be a shame to cut up an antique lace tablecloth that was in usable condition! No, you're looking for the damaged ones, and these can often be had literally for pennies. Remember, if there are undamaged parts less than a foot across, it's still usable for your purposes.

Make the lace outer sachet in the same fashion you made the mesh pouch or ball, just slightly larger so the mesh sachet will fit inside. Now tie or band closed and decorate as the spirit moves you. Ribbon and silk flowers are traditional adornments, but for a change of pace, think about using vintage costume jewelry. Don't go for understated, look for the flashy pieces! The 'rubies' and 'sapphires' that are gaudy and obviously fake in the cold light of day will wink like a king's ransom when tucked into a lingerie drawer.

Now that you've expressed your creativity in the creation of unique potpourri and sachets, put it on display! Use them in your home and give them to your friends. Be proud of your resolve to live your life beautifully.

© High Speed Ventures 2011