To Herb or Not to Herb…

Lovely Herbs

Lovely Fresh Herbs

I happily admit that I’m one of those non-preservative, non-artificial, non-modified foods, organic, vegetarian, natural, recycling, environmental, Eastern medicine types.

For longer then I care to admit to, I’ve made herbal things: soaps, bath stuff, flavored oils and vinegars, lip balms; and embraced Acupuncture (my messed up shoulder and arm are very grateful), herbs, and natural supplements. Prescription medication is always a ‘choice of last result’ for me.

I drive my family nuts.

So anyway, I thought I’d take a few minutes and share a few recipes and resources for those of you that just might want to spoil yourselves…  but be forewarned, once you make these yourself, you’ll never be able to look at a store version again.

Herbal Bath Scrub – In a Bag!
There are two ways to make these, you get to decide which you like better.  Personally, I prefer the bag, but hey – it’s all good.

You Need:

  • Either a 3″ x 5″ muslin bag with draw string (Dharma Trading sells these) or
  • Cheesecloth about 5″ square (you’ll also need some string or crochet thread to tie it shut)
  • Slow cooking oatmeal; 1/2 cup per herbal bag
  • Soap flakes; grated natural soap such as Ivory or a nice glycerin; 1/2 cup per herbal bag
  • Freshly dried herbs. Okay you can use older dried herbs… I just like drying my own (told you I drive my family nuts) You’ll need between 1-2 tablespoons of the herbs per bag depending on how full you make it.

Making It:
Now comes the difficult part. Mix together in a glass bowl the oatmeal, soap flakes and herbs. Transfer this mixture to your ‘bag’ or the center of your cheesecloth square. Snug the ties on the bag or pull up the corners of the cheesecloth and tie securely with the string.

To Use:
Wet your bundle while soaking or showering and gently rub over your body! It helps clean, removes icky dry/flaking/old skin, and smells wonderful. Just hang it up to dry between uses.

Herb Variations:

  • Restful: chamomile, lavender, rose petals,
  • Awake: peppermint, mint, orange, lemon, costmary
  • Happy: lemon balm, mint, rosemary, basil

Of course you can always use what ever herbs you like – this is only a guideline. Another advantage of doing-it-yourself.

Muslin Bags with Drawstring

Variation on a Theme
Want a slight variation on those bags? Well, just leave out the soap flakes and oatmeal and add lots of herbs instead.

Now hang that herb bag under the faucet in your bathtub so the water hits it as the tub fills. You can also use it as a simple skin scrub.

Witch Hazel
Is there anyone that doesn’t have a bottle of witch hazel in their ‘fridge – especially during the summer? It feels so good smoothed over your face in the heat.

Be aware that there really is a difference in witch hazel – splurge and get the $4 bottle instead of the $1.75 one. You can get it from your local health food shop or favorite organic store. It seems silly I know, but you will notice a difference.

Get a couple of smaller empty bottles (with or without spray tops) – and divide up the witch hazel into them. Add 1 – 2 tablespoons of dried herbs to the bottles. Experiment! Neem, chamomile, calendula, lavender….  what ever you want to use. Let sit for a day in the ‘fridge before using, then spritz (or rub) and cool to your hearts desire!

Muslin bags and other wonderful stuff – Dharma Trading. I’ve been buying from them for well over 23 years now.

Herbs and essential oils – San Francisco Herb Co. I have almost as long a track record with these nice folks.

Well it’s time for me to play again – I just have to convince the fur-kids that the herbs are not catnip; they keep trying to steal everything…


Variation on a Keshy Theme

Posted by admin | Filed under New Patterns & Kits, Patterns, Sewing Savvy, Techniques | Feb 16, 2010 | Tags: , , , | Comments Off

A while back we went to a wonderful Indian restaurant for dinner (we’re vegetarians), and afterwards I wandered into a small gift shop. I swear, I started hyperventilating: Fabric – gorgeous Sari fabric…  racks of it! Full cuts for a complete Sari; I didn’t know where to start looking.

Christmas came for me very early that night.

I finally settled on a 6-yard Georgette fabric piece. Rich golds, reds, deep purple, emerald green with a color-matching embossed pattern. There was also a small design of loose, gold threads scattered over the main fabric piece. It has a crisp, very lightweight feel to it and I knew it was going to be a pain to sew – who cared!

Later I sat on the floor in the middle of the sewing room grinning like a idiot, with yards of fabric wrapped on and over me. What to do, what to do….  I’d been wanting to make another Keshy jacket, and this would be perfect… but…  let’s play!

I decided to modify the lower front of the pattern with only 1 simple change – but the end result was amazing. Here is the journey with step-by-step photos. Some are quite large to show more detail.

Laying out the prepared front pattern piece for the Keshy jacket.

The pattern piece is cut apart at the dividing line, and seam allowances added to both sides. I use 1/2" seam allowances on all main seams.

Divide the lower front section into three equal parts. Mark it only.

Now cut on the dividing lines up to - but not through the edge of the added seam allowance. Spread the pieces as wide as you like.

Place tracing paper, tissue paper, or pattern drafting media under the pattern and tape all open areas together securely.

Decide on the design, and even up your bottom edge. I didn't want a completely curved edge, so it has a bit sharper angles.

Modified pattern piece has been cut out of that gorgeous fabric and I'm apply a decorate double facing to the front, center section.

The decorative facing on the front 'skirting' - I don't know what else to call it, it looks like a skirt to me :)

And here's a close up of the edge. I took the piece from another section of the Sari fabric. It was perfect for this placement.

Now for the upper front piece and a different decorative facing. Again, a beautiful panel from the Sari fabric that was tailor made for this usage.

Close up view of the band/facing section attached and the second strip cut and ready for the other front panel.

Here is one of the fronts – both top and skirt attached using a French seam. What I didn’t do – because it really was a design choice for me – was not re-true or straighten the front panels before attaching the front facings and/or band pieces.

The original Keshy jacket has a straight line front, this version as you can see, angles back in after the seam join.

It’s strictly a design choice. I could have straightened it when I opened the ’skirt’, I chose not to. You can choose to!  :)

Upper and 'skirt' sections of Keshy front attached using a French seam.

Here is the piece of fabric I used to center the back of the jacket on. Did I mention that this Sari fabric was gorgeous?

Added the interfaced, neck facing with the help of my assistant Molly. I used a lightweight fusible tricot for any interfacing.

The front and back joined at the shoulders with a French seam, and the facing tacked into place. All seams were French seams - it's a clean, finished look.

A closeup of the finished shoulder seam and facing placement.

Note: I did not sew the sides together until the last step. Because the front bottom has a separate facing/finish and the back bottom a different one, the sides had to be left to the end.

Bias-cut facing for the bottom of the 'skirt' - pinned with lots and lot of pins to hold everything still for sewing. The fabric slid everywhere!

Another view with my able assistant helping.

Closeup of the front bottom facing on its final stage: pin, sew, remove pins, press, turn, press, pin, sew, remove pins, press. Repeat for other side!

After this I did a simple facing/binding on the sleeve area – or lack of sleeve actually – then finished the side seams. It’s gorgeous!

Here's a full front view of the finished Keshy variation jacket. A completely different look!

Closeup of the front - apologies to cropped out model Sally. Yes my mannequin has a name.

The back with the same edging on the bottom as I used for the 'skirt' center facing.

Up close with the sleeve binding. I didn't bother with any real sleeve, a binding was all that I felt it needed.

Tighter detail of the joined fronts; I added two decorate buttons and a hair elastic to hold the fronts closed.

And that’s it! One simple change – and stunning fabric of course – and we have a completely different look for our Keshy jacket. I really, really, really love to play!

PS: I used mono-filament thread for the entire jacket – I need new glasses now, but it was soooo worth it!

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