Well, the English summer is upon us with all its attendant rains and floods. I don’t know what happened to the forecasts of a scorching summer, but I am glad I live on a hill well away from the river. Still, I suppose there is still time for the weather to change. It has at least been good growing weather and my garden is suitably jungle like. Most importantly, my roses and lavender are flourishing. Now is a good time to collect lavender flowers for drying.
How to dry lavender
To dry lavender, cut stems about 6″ long and tie them together in bunches of about ten or so. Leave enough length on the string so that you can hang the lavender upside down while the flower heads dry. This takes two to three weeks. I often hang bunches from the knobs of doors that won’t be used too much. When they are completely dry, gently brush all the petals off the stem into an airtight container till they are needed.
Drying rose petals
Drying rose petals is even easier. When I first heard that you could dry rose petals in the microwave I was a little sceptical, but it works! Pick the rose when it is in full bloom but before the edges of the petals start to brown. Carefully pick the petals off and lay them on a sheet of kitchen paper on a plate.
They will dry more evenly if they are not overlapping. Microwave in twenty second bursts. The number of burst obviously varies with the number of petals, but the ones I did took three bursts.
Rose petals don’t really lend themselves to bags as lavender does. I prefer to leave them in small bowls around the house until the scent has gone.
Make a lavender bag
Lavender, however, is perfect for scented bags. The simplest design is a square. Cut a rectangle of fabric about 8″ by 4″. I tend to use calico or a loose weave fabric so that the scent can be released easily. If you want a hanging loop, place a loop of ribbon in the centre of one of the short edges with the ends of the ribbon in line with the edge of the the fabric.
Fold the bottom half of the rectangle up over the loop. Sew three and a half sides of the square using a 1/4″ seam and turn the square right side out.
Either fill your lavender bag completely with dried lavender or use a mixture of lavender and toy stuffing – it’s available from most fabric or hobby shops. This makes the bag softer to feel and helps your lavender stocks to last longer.
Use small amounts of stuffing at a time to give a more even fill. When you have filled the lavender bag as much as you wish, slipstitch the hole shut with small slipstitches. You can use any shape you choose to make the bag, but try and leave the opening on a straight section of seam. For the first heart shaped lavender bag that I made I left the hole on one of the curves, and as you can see it looks odd because the curve is slightly flattened where the opening was slipstitched.
Experiment – and enjoy your sewing!