Most of the world has been told to stay at home and for many, life teeters between locked down and knocked down. I can only hope and trust that you and all your dearest people will survive the many months ahead. Being home is not at all unusual for me. But I have been preoccupied by wracking my brains, trying to think of something that I could share. The chances are very real that I’ll not be able to host embroidery workshops here at my home this year and just as I started getting quite sad about that, an idea came to me….
I’ll bring an embroidery workshop to you!
Moths and fishmoths are a problem we all must deal with. My mother always kept shards of soap remnants in her drawers and seemed to have great success with these as a deterrent. However, old soap does get flaky and the little bits can leave residue. So let’s make a sachet to keep all the leftovers of those lovely soaps you’ve received as gifts over the years.
And if not soap, you can use whatever you fancy to fill the sachets: lavender (not in season now but there may be a few flowers), cinnamon sticks, cloves, rosemary, bay leaves, mint, thyme…just raid your kitchen, window box or garden. We’re not going shopping, so use what you can find.
The cloth can be anything: perhaps you have scraps of cotton or linen and if not, you probably have a cotton dishcloth or tea towel that you are happy to cut up.
If you don’t have stranded embroidery thread, use any sewing thread just as you would use embroidery thread.
Very little actual sewing is involved and if you don’t have a sewing machine that is fine too, although I must say that if you are sewing by hand you will have to sew each side of the sachet twice, going up as well as down, to make sure there are no gaps through which the contents could leak.
For a sachet with four stitched seams, measure a square of fabric and cut two pieces the same size, front and back. A sachet of 10cm x 10cm will need two squares of fabric 12cm x 12cm, with a 1cm seam all around.
For a sachet with a folded bottom edge, cut a rectangle with a length double that of its width. For it to be completely square you can minus 2cm from the length (because of there being no bottom seam) but it honestly doesn’t matter. The moths don’t care whether your sachet is square or not!
Crowns have always been loved in embroidery and were mostly used with the monograms of royal families. At this time of the “crown” pandemic it is especially apt to use one for decorating our sachet. Crown (noun) a circular ornamental headdress worn by a monarch as a symbol of authority. Synonyms: diadem, coronet, corona, tiara, coronal, royalty.
Choose a template for your embroidery. There are four crowns supplied here and you can enlarge them as you like. Bear in mind if your sachet is 10cm square after it is stitched, your crown should not be more than 5cm in height. You can transfer it onto your fabric with a heat transfer pencil, use office carbon paper to trace it as I have done here, or you can just copy it free hand. Carbon paper can leave unwelcome marks so work carefully. Rather use sellotape than pins to keep it in place while you are tracing.
Hopefully you have Boerseep or some of this wonderful soap from Canettevallei to wash out any blue marks afterwards. Do not use bleach. And remember to centre your design. This you can do by folding the fabric in half and making a crease line and doing the same with the template. Line up the crease lines.
Shown below are visuals from the process. The detailed explanation follows later in this post. Begin with a “lost knot” and bring your needle out at the point where you wish to begin embroidering. The sketch illustrates the lay of the satin stitch. A rear view shows that there is no satin stitching at the back of the fabric: it is all on the front.
Perhaps you would like some help putting together your sachet. If you are making one with a folded bottom edge, you will not be able to add a trim to all four sides but you can add a bit of lace or anything pretty to the top edge.
You can also stitch a piece of pretty ribbon into the seam, either to tie as a bow, or sew as a loop for hanging inside a wardrobe.
Here is a picture sequence of adding lace trim all around. I confess I don’t like the effect of this particular lace very much, but it is useful to know how to do it.
To find out how much lace trim you will need, measure all 4 sides of the square. Measure the width of your lace; if it is 2cm, you will need 2 x 2cm for each corner of the sachet. The total will be the four sides plus the allowance for the four corners – in this case, (4 x 12cm) + 4cm per corner (16cm) plus another 1cm for overlap = 65cm.
I hope you can follow the picture sequence and see how to attach the lace. It is important to bunch the lace in the corners before sewing the front and back of the sachet together, to avoid any of the lace being caught in the stitching. Bunch it and sew it by hand (stitching right through and making sure you catch all the lace). This stitching is permanent. Also catch together the bottom edge of the bunch and tie – this tie is temporary, you will snip it open again once you’ve turned the sachet right side out. The purpose of this little process is just to keep your lace out of trouble. Remember when you are assembling the sachet, to leave an opening at the top for turning out and for filling. Once you have turned it the right way out, use something like a letter opener to push out the corners.
Lastly, fill your sachet with soap remnants or any herbs you fancy.
Below is a tutorial on the process of doing padded satin stitch, which is precisely the same method you would use to do padded embroidery for monogramming.
For padded embroidery we will work in two stitches: Chain Stitch and Satin Stitch.
Take 2 strands of stranded embroidery thread, thread a needle and knot the end. Stab into fabric a short distance away from your starting point and settle the knot there. Don’t worry about it, it is called a “lost knot” and will be cut off later. Bring your needle through from behind at the precise point you wish to begin and commence with Chain Stitch. The direction of stitching is from right to left. Make small, firm stitches. It is important that they are firm and not floppy because, essentially, you are building the support walls over which you will do Satin Stitch.
Once you have stitched all the lines, see what needs to be filled. In these areas that need to be filled (or ‘padded’) you will be linking the chains together by catching each link on its inside and crossing over from side to side, as though you are making a ladder.
Now weave your thread through this ladder – up and down, two or three times. This is the padding. Once done, make a double stitch inside all this weaving and snip off your thread.
Now comes the real deal, the Satin Stitch. It is preferable to use a single strand of thread. I like to work away from my body when doing this stitch so that I can see the left and right edges equally. A helpful tip is to begin at the narrower part of the design and end at the fatter part, because when you need to end off it is easier to push your needle into a plump bit of embroidery than into a skinny end.
Begin by weaving your needle through the padding to the point where you wish to begin, stab through the fabric to the back and bring your needle point out on the left edge of your line of chain stitching. In this way you are sufficiently anchoring your stitching.
Working away from you, draw the needle out on the left and take it over the first chain stitch to the right, then insert it beneath the right edge, sliding it through beneath the stitching and out again on the left between the fabric and the chain stitching. Do not pierce through the fabric. Bring the needle out on the left, draw the thread until your first satin stitch lies comfortably over the padding stitches. Insert the needle on the right again, sliding beneath the padding stitches and chain stitching, and bring it out on the left, drawing the thread until it lies neatly and evenly beside the first stitch.
Keep the tension even so that you end up with a mirror like effect where all the stitches lie flat and smooth beside each other. Effectively, what you are doing now is not so much stitching as ‘wrapping’ – like a spider wrapping its prey in silk thread! Once you have reached the end, put the tip of your needle back into the body of your satin stitching, sliding it underneath from the very end so that there will be no visible stitch made. Slide it along beneath the satin stitching for a centimetre or so, then let it pierce out through the back. Pull thread through and snip off. To finish, snip off all knots and loose threads.