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For those of you who have been following along for a while, it will probably come as no surprise if I tell you that my garden is a crazy mess.
It’s a sunny little spot, and only the size of a postage stamp. The weeds do very well, along plants that thrive on neglect.
My rule is that if it is pretty it can stay, so I have rosebay willowherb, hollyhocks and foxgloves that have self seeded and random honeysuckle that has appeared from nowhere in with roses and other things that I have deliberately planted.
Gardening is on my list of things to learn. It’s hard when so many things are interesting! I’ve made some progress thanks to Monty Don and The Gardeners’ World Almanac, which goes through what needs doing in the garden month by month. At the moment I attack the weeds every so often and hope for the best. My garden is not going to look like a park. That’s not what I want. Wild is fine, but sometimes it’s a bit too wild and I don’t want to annoy my neighbours too much.
One of the advantages of having a wild and crazy garden is that creatures of all kinds love it. I’ve seen bees, both normal and bumble, a whole host of bugs that I have no idea what they are, hedgehogs, frogs and toads, and all kinds of birds.
I want the wildlife to enjoy my garden as well as me and the other humans that live in my house, and one way to do that is to plant things they will like. I know that bees like lavender, and I like it too, so there’s a little patch of it up at the back near the swings.
Earlier in the summer, Cosmo was helping me in the garden and we got talking about the lavender and how lovely it smells. He picked a sprig and put it in a pile of his clean washing which was in the utility room waiting to be moved upstairs.
This brought back memories of making lavender bags when I was a tween, and I decided then that once the flowers were over, I would harvest the lavender to make lavender bags. It also helps that Monty Don has told me that trimming lavender bushes is a gardening task for August!
The seed heads were actually ready a couple of weeks ago, but after a month of hot dry weather, the skies opened and it poured with rain for a couple of days! The seed heads needed to dry out afterwards, so by the time I cut them they were a little bit past it.
But they still smell lovely and I’ve used them anyway! I now have a little collection of lavender bags to slip into people’s drawers and piles of clean washing.
Instructions For Making Lavender Bags
There really is no wrong way to make lavender bags. Once you’ve made a few, you might have ideas of your own for jazzing them up, or you might want to keep things simple.
You Will Need
Dried lavender. If you have plants growing in your garden, you can use your own. Just make sure it’s dry when you pick it, or it will be harder to remove the seed bits from the stems and you might end up with mouldy lavender bags!
If you don’t have a ready source of lavender, or if you’re reading this in February, then you can buy it online.
Scraps of fabric. I chose purple scraps for a lavender theme. Cotton is probably best.
Bits of lace. It’s optional, and it does make the whole thing take longer, but I wanted to go all out and channel my inner old lady!
Usual sewing supplies. You could sew them by hand if you like, but the sewing machine makes it a bit quicker.
Preparing the Lavender
If you’ve bought your lavender, you can skip this part.
The best time to cut the seed heads is when the lavender flowers are over and the seeds are purple or just turning grey. If you leave it much longer, the bit of the flower that acts as a plug will drop out and you’ll end up with little lavender seeds everywhere. Also they don’t smell quite as strong once they’ve got to this stage. But if that is the state your lavender is in, you can use it anyway. I did!
Make sure to cut them on a dry day, and check that the seed heads are dry.
Separate the seeds from the stalks. It’s easy to do with a thumbnail. It can be a bit messy, so it’s a good idea to use an old ice cream container or margarine tub.
Cut 2 rectangles from your chosen fabric. They can be as big or as small as you like. It might depend on the size of the scraps you have. The first one I made were 8cm x 10cm and the others were a bit bigger.
Cut a piece of lace twice the length of the distance round the rectangle.
Making the Lavender Bags
By hand, sew a running stitch along the edge of the lace. Gather it so that it is the same length as as the outside edge of the rectangle.
Take one of the rectangles and pin the lace to the right side. The frilly edge will need to be on the inside. Adjust the gathers so that there is plenty at the corners.
Pop the other rectangle on the top, face down and pin.
Sew around three of the edges, leaving one of the shorter edges open. Trim the seams if you need to and cut the points off the corners.
Double check that the lace is caught in the seam, then turn it the right way out.
Fill the little bag with lavender about 2 thirds full. I used a teaspoon to scoop the lavender into the bag.
Fold in raw edges of the open seam, making sure that the lace is tucked in side, and hand sew the opening.
The lavender bag on the left is the first one I made, and the lace isn’t as neat as I would have liked. With the lavender bag in the middle, I made up the bag, filled it, sewed up the opening and then sewed the lace around the edge, and the results were definitely neater. For the last one, I started in the same way as I did with the first lavender bag, but once I’d pinned it, I quickly tacked it in place. Using a wider lace also helped.
As I still had some lavender left over, and as I’m pretty sure my boys won’t be too keen on having some kind of frilly thing mixed up with their clothes, I made some more without the lace. There are only 3 because Cosmo wants to make his own.
You might like to make just one or two, or you could make a lot depending on how much lavender you have. And although it is still a bit early for thinking about Christmas, you might know some people who would appreciate a handmade lavender bag or two!