Saturday, November 10, 2012

a little felted bag

Here, of course, is the sweater that started it all, the only 100% wool sweater at Goodwill this time of year. That was my own fault for looking for a wool sweater in November, when things have been picked over. 

The instructions were for a much bigger sweater [felting semi-instructions are at the end of this post]; they also wanted you to use the sleeves for the handles. Which is okay, I suppose. It just wasn't working for me. Also, I have to have an interior pocket, you know, for stuff. God knows when a bag is going to be pressed into service for purse duty, and I hate having everything rolling around loose. And this is an adult size small sweater, so it felted even smaller, so it's a smallish bag, so it needs an interior pocket. Enter a pair of pants from a bag sale that I completely missed had holes across the seat while I was at the store.

If I'd have known they were damaged then - daylight through both sides, right under the back pockets on these khakis - I would have left them on the rack to save room for something undamaged in my bag, but as kismet would have it, it turned out great that I brought them home; I used the rest of the pants in the accompanying felted hood project. 

I used the other pant leg to create the shoulder straps for this bag, which are about 18" in length, so it sits comfortably right under the arm. I made a long tab to attach the pocket to the bag, and sewed it into the seam with the zipper. The straps on that side are sewn in behind the hanging tab. The pocket is almost the width of the bag - about as wide as the set of the shoulder straps.

I used an undamaged portion of one of the legs to create the pocket, first attaching the zipper to one open end, then opening the zipper, flipping the pocket inside out and serging it closed. I almost lined the bag with the pant leg, but the leg was too small for the bag, and the felt stretches just enough that I wanted to retain that slight give. Aside from the serging across the bottom of the sweater to close off the bottom, that's the only finishing I did to the interior of the bag. I did reinforce the where the straps were attached, and did some decorative stitching on the straps themselves. All in all, this project could easily be completed in a weekend if one was organized about it, with the time it takes to felt and dry the sweater and stitch up the bag.  

$3 sweater from Goodwill [and my messy desk] complete with the felted sweater bits and the dread, busted-butt khakis...

The top is a little flopsy, so the only addition I would make to this bag is a button and a loop, and it's good then I'd say it's good to go!


here, for your viewing pleasure, is a picture of the felting process [we have an old washer]

it's best to toss your felting project in with whatever you are washing on hot normally; items recommended for hot wash are things like towels, bedsheets, socks and undergarments [not delicates like bras] although, you can wash a felting project in cold water and shock it with a tumble in a hot dryer with everything else, like a load of jeans - it's the agitation and friction and heat that are key to getting a good felting. 

I tossed the whole sweater into the wash, no cuts to it, to see what would happen, with a load of towels, and washed it on a regular cycle, in hot water, then tossed it in a hot dryer. Was mostly pleased with the body of the sweater, wanted the hood to felt more, so I repeated the felting process, waiting until I had another hot load - I'm not going to just turn on the hot water for crafting purposes - and tossed the hood in with the next load of hot wash. You can keep felting until you are pleased with the result. If you save any pieces, it's best to iron them and store them flat, rather than toss them into a bin or something. If you think I'm kidding, try to get the pleats out of a wool kilt. Yep. Sleeves, by the way, could be salvaged into fingerless, thumbless gloves at the very least.

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