Thursday, November 15, 2007

Instructions for Purse

Felted Sweater Purse

Felting a wool sweater is really easy. Basically, you do everything to wool that you aren’t supposed to. Start by washing in hot water, and drying in the dryer on normal. With some wools, it is enough to do this once, some will need a few repetitions. I just threw this one in with my light colored laundry a few times, and that seemed to do fine. I always look for Abercrombie and Fitch lambs wool sweaters at thrift stores, as they seem to felt up particularly well. It won’t matter if there are small moth holes.

Once the sweater is felted, cut out the body of the purse, using one of the side seams as the bottom of the bag. I do not often make paper patterns first, but you can, if you are unsure. To cut the lining, I simply laid the felt over the lining fabric, and estimated the seam allowance I needed.

Sew the two side seams of the lining, with right sides together. My sewing machine is not working at the moment, so I did all of this by hand, but I don’t recommend it, if you have the option. Press the seams that you will need for the edges of the lining. I don’t usually pin anything, I just sort of stuck the lining in the bag and folded it over where it needed to go.

Place the piping between the felt layers and sew one side together. Then, place the lining in the bag. Place the piping between the felt and the lining on the flap of the bag, and continue sewing. Being careful not to sew the lining to the side of the bag, continue the piping down the opposite side seam of the bag, and cut the piping at the bottom.

Add piping to the top edge of the opening of the bag, and sew the lining and felt together.

For the strap, cut a long strip to make a tube. Take a piece of yarn or embroidery floss and sew it firmly to one end of the tube, then let it run down the inside of the tube, between the right sides of the fabric. Sew the right sides together. You can now use the yarn to help you turn the strap right side out. Use the end of a pencil to start turning the tube, then pull it right side out by pulling the yarn. This can be a little tricky and takes a little finesse, but for some reason, I love making these.

The main reason that I designed the strap detail that I did is that I did not have a long enough strip of fabric to make the strap as long as I wanted. Though the corners seem rounded in the photo, the fabric was cut as a rectangle, but sewing in the piping will round the corners. The straps were sewn into the shoulder piece along with the piping, but then reinforced with the box and “x” stitching.

I secured the finished strap to the purse on the inside, on top of the lining, rather than between the lining and the felt. It could be done the other way, if you prefer, but I felt that having the strap pulling up directly against the cotton lining would be sturdier than having the strap pulling directly on the felt. I used a whipstitch in red thread to add a decorative detail inside the flap of the bag.

The jackalope was the last element added. It is cut from white wool felt. I made a paper pattern, then used a piece of blue chalk to trace around the pattern. I cut the outside with scissors, but used an X-acto blade for the inside pieces. You really need a brand new blade to cut felt cleanly.

Press the bag with a little steam when you are finished, this will also help flatten down the fuzziness of the felt, and give the bag a slightly crisper look.