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Winter DIY Project: Balsam Fir Sachets and Pillows

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Winter DIY Project: Balsam Fir Sachets and Pillows

January 12, 2023

Remodelista in Maine is an ode to the can-do, make-do, do-everything style of those who reside in the northeasternmost state. Written by our colleague Annie Quigley and published last year, the book is filled with interior design inspiration that reflects Down Easters’ practical-makes-perfect aesthetic. It also, not surprisingly, features a plethora of DIY projects, including this one that captures the essence of the region’s fragrant forests into one tidy pillow. Conceived and photographed by Remodelista/Gardenista contributor Justine Hand, the pillow (or sachet, depending on how you size it) is easy to make—a great keepsake whether you’re a born-and-bred Mainer or a smitten visitor looking for the perfect souvenir.

Excerpted from Remodelista in Maine: A Design Lover’s Guide to Inspired, Down-to-Earth Style, by Annie Quigley (Artisan Books). Photographs by Justine Hand.

Balsam Fir Pillow

Above: This project can be scaled down to make sachets, perfect for sock drawers and linen closets, or up to make more generously sized pillows to toss on a bed.

Balsam fir is the fragrance of Maine. That’s why sachets filled with the trees’ aromatic needles can be found in every souvenir shop throughout the state. For our reimagined version, we eschewed the expected lobster, lighthouse, and blueberry motifs and instead chose fabrics that reflect the textures and hues of Maine’s woodlands and shores.

Materials

  • Balsam fir, either dried or freshly harvested
  • Clippers, if using fresh balsam
  • Fabric scissors
  • Ruler
  • Pen
  • Sewing pins
  • Sewing machine (optional)
  • Needle and thread
  • Widemouthed funnel (optional)

Step 1

DIY Balsam Sachets by Justine Hand, from Remodelista in Maine

Bulk dried balsam is readily available online. If you wish to harvest your own—say, after clearing a path or taking down the Christmas tree—first you need to learn to distinguish balsam from its fellow conifer, spruce. Balsam has flat needles that are round at the end; spruce needles are square-shaped and have sharp, pointy tips. To prep balsam for your pillow, snip the finer branches into small bits with clippers.

Step 2

DIY Balsam Sachets by Justine Hand, from Remodelista in Maine

Cotton, linen, and wool are the textures of Maine. For a fresh, cool version for summertime, use linen or cotton; if you want to make your pillow cozier, use wool (we repurposed an old wool baby blanket for one of our pillows).

Step 3

DIY Balsam Sachets by Justine Hand, from Remodelista in Maine

Cut two pieces of fabric that are identical in size. Place what will become the outer sides together, mark the outline of your pillow (the size is up to you) with a ruler and pen on what will become the inside, and pin.

Step 4

DIY Balsam Sachets by Justine Hand, from Remodelista in Maine

Sew with a machine or by hand, leaving a 2-inch opening on one side for the balsam. Turn the pillow right side out. Using a widemouthed funnel or your hands, fill the pillow. If using fresh balsam, stuff your pillow very full, as the balsam will compact as it dries. Sew the remaining opening by hand.

For more easy nature-inspired DIYs, see:

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