Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Felted Sweater Bag Tutorial


Felted Wool Bag from a Sweater

 

While at Goodwill a few months back, I was scouring the store for wool sweaters that could be felted and turned into a decent bag.  Most of them were very ugly shades of brown, but then this beauty caught my eye!  It is a royal blue and I knew it would be perfect for a wintry bag! :) 



Felted Wool Bag from a Sweater

STEP 1: Felt the sweater

Felting a sweater is very easy.  Just follow these steps...
  1. Wash in a washing machine either alone or with a towel or a pair of jeans.  Use hot/cold setting with a small amount of detergent. 
  2. Dry on hottest setting.  Repeat steps 1 and 2, two more times.
  3. Check fabric to see if it is completely felted by snipping a small section to see if the sweater frays.  If it does not fray, you are finished!  If it still frays, wash and dry one more time and then test again.
*TIP: 100% wool sweaters felt the best.  You can also felt sweaters that are at least 60% wool, but I have found them more difficult and require more washings.  

STEP 2: Cut into workable pieces

Felted Wool Bag from a Sweater
Here you can see I have cut my fabric until I have 2 equal square pieces of fabric.  I was fortunate to find such a large sweater to work with. 
I then decided I wanted to have a little fun with this bag.  I thought this might be a great opportunity to practice my free motion stitching (which needs A LOT of work).  It reminds me a little of Van Gogh's Starry Night??  Reaching?? (LOL)

If you are wondering what free motion is just click HERE or HERE to learn more.
Felted Wool Bag from a Sweater


Next, you will need to find a lining fabric and then cut it to match the size of the outside fabric.  Once you have that done, grab the rest of your sweater remnants and decide how big your pockets are going to be.

The top pocket you see below, was from one of the sleeves and the bottom 2 pockets were from the neckline.  Simply stitch around the sides and bottom.  There is no need to worry about the raw edges because they will not fray.  (So easy!)

Felted Wool Bag from a Sweater
The next step may be a little confusing if you have never made a bag before, but it is very simple to create a bag in just a few steps.

First, take your outside fabric (felted wool squares) and place them right side together (really is not a right and wrong side for this wool).  Stitch a 1/4" seam allowance around the sides and bottom, leaving the top open.  Do the same for the lining, being sure to have the right sides together.

Next, take your wool pieces that have been sewn together and at the sewn corners cut out a 2x2 inch square on either side.

Felted Wool Bag from a Sweater
Do the same for the lining.
Felted Wool Bag from a Sweater
Then, take the cut corners and pinch them together so that the seams match up.  You will then sew this together and it should look like....
Felted Wool Bag from a Sweater
This...
Felted Wool Bag from a Sweater
This would be a good time to sew on a closure to your bag.  This is a very casual, just-for-me, type of bag, so I used Velcro.  Just stitch around the edge with some white thread to secure to the right side of the lining fabric.

Felted Wool Bag from a Sweater
You are almost finished!  Turn the felted/outside of your bag right side out and then place it inside the lining, which is still wrong side out.
Felted Wool Bag from a Sweater
Match up the top edge and pin all the way around, making sure to match those side seams so all is even.   

The key: Leave an opening about the size of your fist so you can turn your bag later.  I mark this section with 2 pins so I do not forget.  (Yet, I usually forget!)

Felted Wool Bag from a Sweater
Set the bag aside for a minute so you can now concentrate on the handles.  I had enough wool left from the arms to make the handles.  There is a little stretch in my handles, and if I was giving this to someone I would have been concerned about this, but since it is just for me I knew it would be fine.  I added a little free motion stitching, folded over and then stitched on one side. 
Felted Wool Bag from a Sweater
Now you are ready to take your bag and pull the bag through that fist size hole you left when sewing the lining to the outer fabric.  Handstitch the opening closed.  Then, finish the bag off by adding one row of topstitching close to the outer, upper edge of the bag.

The handles are then added evenly to either side.  Stitch to the outside of the bag by sewing a square and then and X through the middle.  I decided to hand sew on some buttons too.
Felted Wool Bag from a Sweater
The bag felt like it was missing something, so I opted for a fabric flower.  These flowers are so easy to make! I talk more about how to make this type of flower HERE.  I used some white fleece I had leftover from making a baby rag quilt.  These flowers look neat when the edges fray, but I decided to use pinking shears to cut the edges so they would not fray so much. 

Felted Wool Bag from a Sweater
I love how this bag turned out.  It has such a cozy feel to it, which is what we all want when it is as cold as it has been this winter!  It holds all of the essentials too: wallet, pocket calendar, flashlight, cell phone, etc..

Felted Wool Bag from a Sweater
Felted Wool Bag from a Sweater


I hope this tutorial was helpful to you.  If you have any questions, please leave me a comment.  I answer all comments.  :)

Have you ever made anything out of felted wool before?  Tell me about it and I'll go check it out and share!

Have a great day!!

Gina



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Crafty Allie