small measures

Small Measures: Herbal Sachets

by Ashley

In January 1991, when I was 15 years old, my mother, older brother and I moved into the most eccentric dwelling I’ve ever lived in. Montreat, N.C. is a tiny, quaint, gorgeous town just outside of Asheville. It was in this charming hamlet that we hung our hats for a mere nine months, moving into a converted stone and wood tobacco barn. Snuggled into a mountainous cove, our wild house sat beside a creek and boasted a mammoth stone fireplace, French doors off my room leading to a tiny porch and sailboat-type steps leading to the third-floor bedroom that belonged to my brother, complete with rope railing.

While our Swiss Family Robinson-style digs were seriously cool, they were also quite chilly. The house lacked insulation, caulking and the many other pleasures that make a house cozy and warm in the winter. Our home breathed right alongside us. It was during this time that I developed an interest in and love of all things natural, and finding a way to keep my clothes fresh smelling and moth-free became my mission during our stint in the Montreat house.

For today’s Small Measures, I’m sharing my all-natural solution for keeping garments in tip-top shape. Homemade herbal sachets pull double duty for your fabric items by imbuing them with a fresh scent while deterring pests. As many of us begin the new year by organizing, straightening and otherwise freshening our homes, I invite you to whip up a sachet or two for ringing in 2013. Here’s wishing you a happy, healthy and fragrant New Year, wherever you call home! — Ashley English

The full how-to continues after the jump . . .

These sachets couldn’t be easier to make. They’re as simple as obtaining the ingredients, mixing them together and securing them in a piece of fabric. For the sachet shown here, I used the cloth cover from a set of Thomas O’Brien sheets that I had on hand, as I knew I’d never use it to store the sheets in and loved the design. If you’ve got a scrap of something lying around that could be repurposed, such as a kitchen cloth or worn garment, use that. Otherwise, seek out gently used fabric at thrift stores or natural fabrics from a fabric store.

Herbal Sachets

The Goods

  • fir needles (upcycle that holiday tree, friends!)
  • rosemary needles (fresh or dried)
  • lavender buds (fresh or dried)
  • cinnamon sticks
  • dried orange peel
  • cedar shavings*
  • fabric squares**
  • twine or ribbon


*I keep chickens, and use cedar as their bedding matter, so I always have a bag of fresh cedar on hand. You can find large quantities at pet supply stores, farm supply stores and even some grocery stores. For smaller amounts, look to the bulk sections of some natural foods stores, or substitute with cedar essential oil or cedar blocks or balls, typically available at home supply stores.

**Your fabric square can be cut to whatever size you prefer. Mine was around 4 square inches. Large, small or in-between, cut the fabric in an even square to whatever size you’d like.

The Deal

1. Place an equal amount of fir needles, rosemary needles, lavender buds, cinnamon sticks, orange peel and cedar shavings in a mixing bowl. The quantity of each ingredient will be based on the total number of sachets you intend to make. So, if you only want one small sachet, use several teaspoons of each ingredient. If you’d like a large sachet, such as the one pictured here, use 2 to 3 tablespoons of each ingredient, and if you’d like to make several sachets, use around 1/4-cup of each ingredient.

2. Mound a bit of the blend (or all of it if you’re only making one sachet) into the center of your fabric square.

3. Twist the sides of the fabric up and secure with twine or ribbon.

4. Place on a hanger in a closet, in a drawer with lingerie or socks, in a chest with off-season garments or anywhere you’d like to offer a bit of fragrance and olfactory protection from pests.

What about you? Got any go-to natural means of keeping clothes fresh and pest-free? I’d love to hear about them. Living in a 1930s un-air-conditioned, wood-stove-heated home like I do now (seems like the Montreat house made quite the impression!), I’m always looking for ways to gently win the war against moisture, pests, dryness and more.

Images and styling by Jen Altman

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  • Such a great idea…ideal for handknits that you want to preserve for decades to come. I’m thinking some lavender sachets would be wonderful. I’d go to a local spice shop (Spice House in Evanston, IL comes to mind), buy what I need and make sachets. What’s more, you’ll really treasure those garments that are preserved with sachets. You’ll put more effort into washing them carefully and properly versus the throw-away cheap T-shirts from the Gap.

  • Ashley English has a wonderful way of breaking down projects in steps that help all of us “new crafters” succeed. Thanks again Ashley. :) Bette

  • Thanks for suggesting this! We got engaged under our Christmas tree and I am trying to think of ways to keep the tree around as a memento. Any other ideas to save the fir tree parts?

  • Ashley! I,too, have wonderful memories from my time in Montreat. Many more years ago than I would care to admit to here, but…..oh my! your post reminded me of the wood smoke early in the morning in the kitchen of an equally strange Victorian house….best breakfast EVER though……smiles

  • i’ve used herbs berfore, but never fir needles – great idea! thanks! @ Jen (if you can see this) – you can make a stirring whisk out of your tree trunk – it’s a tradition here in the czech republic :), or carve something else out of it too…heart :)

  • @jen- slice the trunk and make coasters, use sun paper to make prints of a few branchlets, keep part of the trunk (8-12 inches?) and carve your initials and a heart…


  • :) Montreat, I use to live there too (on Chapman overlooking the ball field). Im from Asheville but Montreat has it’s own certain “enchantment”. Love your post – Thanks

  • Thanks for sharing. How long could one sachet be used before needing to replace with a new, freshly made sachet please?

  • I don’t know as I’ve never made them, but maybe when there’s no longer a fragrance? This might depend on how & where you use them, so perhaps it’s a tough call. Sachets are always welcome gifts, even if they don’t last too long.

  • As hard as it is to preserve clothing nowadays–this post is wonderful and timely! Thanks for the post.

  • I recently went to an Arts & Crafts festival in Charles Town, WV, with my daughter. One of the items we saw was small sachets, for $3.00. My daughter said, “mom you could make those.” So now I am & started looking for “recipes” for my dried lavender, dried orange slices & cinnamon sticks, I ordered. Saw your sight and was intrigued with your story. It did give me ideas on how I am going to combine my ingredients. Thank you so much.