Seasonal Stitching: math and design

I’ve had in mind to make some balsam sachets for a while. I saved the needles from last year’s wreath and they still smell wonderful. My first step was to haphazardly cut up a scrap of muslin, quickly sew two sides through the serger and then stuff with the fir needles and leisurely sew up the last side by hand. I tried sewing up the last side with a straight stitch on the machine but it was more trouble than it was worth. There are some instances where I can handstitch neater and faster than the machine can.

I’ve had lots of different ideas on how to decorate the outer covers for these but this one popped up at the last minute. I paired up these toasty squares of wool felt and pulled out some embroidery floss. I then looked at pictures of balsam branches, drew some and forced myself to simplify until I had a pleasingly spare design. I then traced the final pattern onto tissue paper, labeled each dot with a letter and wrote down letter pairs in order of sewing. I borrowed this method from the boy’s second grade math homework. It worked a treat and the girl was pleased as punch to be able to follow the letters much like a dot-to-dot puzzle. The hardest part for her was sticking the needle up through the back.

wool felt embroidered with cotton DMC floss balsam fir and snowflake design balsam needle sachet

The snowflake ended up being more complicated so I decided to try working out the stitching pattern before writing it up. Halfway through the boy wanted to help and I was pleasantly surprised to find that not only was he able to accurately stick the needle up through the back side of the work, but he was also able to figure out a thread conserving stitching pattern with very little guidance. Both were suitably impressed when we gently tore away the tissue paper to reveal the design. I finished the sachets by blanket stitching round the squares, stuffing the balsam filled muslin bags in between before closing up the last side. You can see we have a few more to finish. I will let the kids decide who to gift these to. We used to have one in the back of our car and the warmth of the heater in the winter or the summer sun would give the car just a hint of balsam fir fragrance.


1 comment

  1. Nikki LaCrosse’s avatar

    Those are really nice and I bet they smell great. It’s great that the kids enjoy doing crafts. Merry Christmas!!

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