The simplicity of this felted bag makes it such a fun project and it is all made from recycled jumpers. The bag and handles are cut at the same time from a single recycled jumper. Stitching up the base and folding the handles was a cinch. I embellished the front with colourful scraps cut into circles and squares.
Decorative stitching holds the pieces in place while making this felted bag an accessory that doesn’t go anywhere unnoticed. Project excerpted from CraftCycle.
Project Note Felted jumpers are simply wool jumpers that have gone through the washing machine and dryer. The soap, water, heat and agitation pulls the individual wool fibers together so that the material shrinks. Felted wool is strong and thick, and doesn’t fray at the edges when it’s cut. I like to find used at second hand shops; the key is to look for those that are 100-percent wool. Some mohair cashmere and angora blends will also work, just stay away from acrylic blends because they won’t shrink.
Materials List for this Felted Bag:
Felted jumper (turquoise)
Scraps of felt to match the embroidery threads
(brown, mustard, red, green, turquoise, lavender, pink)
Embroidery thread (white, brown, purple, pink, turquoise, ochre)
TOOLS & SUPPLIES
Sewing and darning needle
Lay a felted jumper flat on your work surface. Following the diagram above, cut through both thicknesses to remove the sleeves and deepen the neck opening. Open the shoulder seams and remove excess fabric so the edges are a single thickness. Turn the jumper inside out. Cut the cuffs off the sleeves.
Cut apart the length of the sleeve seam
you’re using for the felted bag base. Open it and trim away any excess fabric so you’re left with a flat single thickness of felt. Fold it in half and trim the side edges so that the base is the same length as the jumper width. Trim the top and bottom edges so that they’re straight. Trim away more fabric for a thinner base and less if you’d like a wider base.
Unfold the trimmed base and position it in the bottom of the jumper, right side facing in. Pin it in place. Machine stitch around the base, removing pins as you work. Trim excess fabric off the corners, and turn the bag right side out.
For felted fabric projects, fit your sewing machine with a heavy-duty needle. Loosen the tension to accommodate the bulk of the fabrics. Run a double thickness test piece through the machine and make adjustments before sewing your bag.
To strengthen the edges of your felted bag, turn under ¼” (6mm) of fabric. Make a continuous seam, stopping only at the tops of the handles. To make a circular handle, connect the straps from the same side of the bag with a single seam.
To form the handles into a rolled
shape, hand stitch them together, trapping
all the machine seams inside the handle
Cut twenty 2″ × 2″ (5cm × 5cm) squares and 1½” (4cm) circles out of your felt scraps. Stack the circles over the squares and arrange them into four rows of five pairs across the front of your bag.
Distribute the colours among the rows and avoid pairing the same colours together. Leave the circle off the middle square of the top row, temporarily place a button in this spot and check your colour distribution a final time. Use straight pins to anchor the circles and squares to the front of the bag.
Thread a darning needle with a full strand of embroidery floss, and begin stitching up through the squares and sewing the circles in place. Alternate whipstitching around the edges of some of the circles and poking large stitches out from the centre of others. Select floss colours that contrast with the colour of the felt so that your stitchwork will be noticeable. Use smaller running stitches around the edges of the squares to anchor them in place.
Stitch the button through the middle square (with no circle) and handbag front several times to firmly anchor it in place. Cut 6½” × 1″ (16cm × 3cm) strip of turquoise from your scraps. Hand stitch the edges together to give the strip a rolled appearance and added strength. Fold the strip in half to form a loop. Tuck the ends under and stitch them to the inside top of the felted bag back. Test fit the loop around the button before stitching it in place. You may need to trim ends to shorten the loop. I sewed partway down the centre of the loop to narrow the hole for a tighter fit around the button.