Xiangbao are fragrant, scented sachets worn and given as gifts during the Dragon Boat Festival because they were believed essential at this point in the season to repel insects, infectious diseases and evil spirits. Traditionally, they were filled with various herbs and powders from traditional Chinese medicine, though these days they are filled with stuffing and chemical fragrances. They are often given as gifts for well wishes, and come in many different shapes and patterns.
You can find all of our Dragon Boat Festival posts here.
|Photo Source: Cultural China|
To make a scented sachet you will need some fabric (we used scraps of some kind of rayon or polyester fabric that has a "silk" look), stuffing, pins and one sewing needle per person, matching and contrasting (if you are planning on embroidering) thread, yarn or ribbon, incense stick or powdered incense, and metallic markers for decorating.
To make the drawstring sachet:
1. Cut out a rectangle of fabric that is approximately 6" long, and 3" wide.
2. Take a length of yarn or ribbon for your drawstring, and knot it into a loop.
3. Place one end of yarn loop over top edge of fabric, fold over fabric, pin and sew.
4. Bring your loop to the other edge, and repeat step 3.
5. Now it's time to embellish your sachet. Pea used metallic thread and embroidered, with just the basic stitch, "circles" throughout the fabric. Elle used permanent and metallic markers to embellish her sachet.
Pea couldn't believe it took her 5 minutes to complete her first circle, but she got quicker with practice. It increased her appreciation of all the work involved in the embroidery we've seen in traditional clothing.
6. Once embellished, fold the fabric right side in, and sew along the edges.
7. Once the sides are sewn, your pouch is complete. To turn it into a fragrant sachet, fill it halfway with stuffing, add powdered incense (see below on how we got powder from our stick), and top it with more stuffing.
8. Pull the drawstrings, and enjoy! You can also use some yarn or ribbon to hang the sachet around your neck.
Incense: I try to make a point of using things we already have at home for our projects, and granted, we have quite a stash of craft supplies and odds and ends. We did not have incense powder, but we did have sticks, that we don't use. I thought there must be a way to use the stick, thinking I would just pound it. Hubby had a better (less messy) idea: use a carrot peeler. And it worked!
And I made a Zongzi shaped sachet, though, if I'm going to be honest, I can't say I'm too proud of how it turned out! But it sure smells good :)
And though we used incense, in order to repel insects around here, we probably should have added drops of citronella oil. Hmm. Wish I'd thought of that before we sewed them closed!
All our Dragon Boat Festival posts can be found here, where you can learn about Duanwu, find a review of a couple of books worth reading, a roundup of dragon boat crafts, the story of Qu Yuan, and a recipe for zongzi.
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