Thursday, 7 July 2011

Summertime blues

I had a sneaky trip to my beloved Spinning Weal a couple of weeks ago and one of my (I daren't mention how many as my family all read this blog!) purchases was a luscious 100g of blue merino wool top. Merino wool is usually used for hats but I really wanted all the lovely blueness for a handbag so I figured if I made a small clutch and lined it, it would be tough enough for the job. I had also bought a nicely coordinating blue fat quarter for the lining. The whole lining thing was inspired by a bag Becky J over at Fluff Pot has been making

So, I got stuck in and laid out the felt gently on a piece of net curtain on a strip of bubble wrap - 4 layers: 2 vertically and 2 horizontally on each side of the soft plastic template, tucking each layer carefully around the edges so there would be no gaps*

Slinging on a load of soapy hot water I started to rub the wool through the net curtain, and rub and rub and rub until my arms felt like they would fall off

Once the the wool couldn't be pulled up like in this picture below, I took the net curtain off and carried on bashing it all about

Eventually the wool felted and shrunk so the template got all squished, then I cut the upper edge and removed the template and bashed it about some more with plenty of hot water and soap. It's quite a tiring hobby this! When I was happy that I had finally felted it all enough I left the bag to dry, people say this takes about 24 hours, but mine always take a good 2-3 days to be fully dry

With the bag dry I was able to start on the lining. I always like to have a small pocket in my bags so, trimming round a flower from a pretty John Lewis fabric swatch and using interfacing I sewed the pocket to the lining

Then I sewed the lining together and after many, many, many attempts I finally worked out which way round to pin the bag and lining together  and sewed the top and then round the two handle holes, which I had strengthened with interfacing

As you can see I made the handle holes way too big. Grrr...

...but after a few curses I realised I had enough fabric to be able to put a seam in so that the excess was taken up. I added a pretty scarf and wore it with my turquoise maxi skirt and felt very ladylike all day

As a prototype I am quite pleased with it. The merino wool is definitely not strong enough for it to really be anything other an occasional bag, so next time in I am going to try corriedale wool for the inside layers and merino for the outside coupled with extra interfacing. Also, I think I probably won't make the handles as cutout holes as that also weakens the structure. I found some silky curtain tasselled tiebacks half price at Dunelm Mill and I think the tie bits will make great handles for shoulder bags - although I do need to think of something to do with the enormous tassels... any ideas?

I have a skein of flame coloured wool and a fat quarter of orange pansy cotton so you can guess what I'll be up to next!

* um, I kind of didn't do the covering the edges bit too well as on one corner the wool was a bit sparse so I made a felt flower and sewed that on to hide it!


  1. Hi! Thank you so much for the wonderful comments you left on my blog.
    You bag looks great! The blue is beautiful and that was clever thinking with the seam to reduce the handle holes.
    Glad to hear I'm not the only one who finds the felting bit hard work. I am hoping that regular felting will keep my arms trim so I might avoid the dreaded bat wings!
    The thing I love most about blogging is how generous people are with their ideas, techniques and tutorials. I have been endlessly inspired by by so many lovely bloggers and I am delighted to think that I have played a part in inspiring someone else. Can't wait to see your next creation!
    Becky x

  2. I'm suffering from cleverness envy - *sulks off with thumbs in mouth*

  3. canvas bags
    Nice collections of bags!The blue is beautiful and that was clever thinking with the seam to reduce the handle holes.Looks great!

  4. Thank you for the lvely comment on my blog.
    Of course you can join in the swap
    Julie xxxxxxxx

  5. oh my goodness that is lovely! I have seen them in some shops around here (something like it anyway) but they are so pricey!

  6. Oh wow! Are you creative, or what?!? All the posts I've seen on your blog are excellent! I have ZERO sewing abilities as that was what my sister enjoyed doing. So if I needed pants hemmed or patches sewed on, I just went to her. No need to learn when you've got a live-in alteration shop! :o) Now I could use those skills. :o) But I love the bag you made, and the fabric you used to reduce the handle size! It turned out just beautiful!!!

  7. I love the colour of the handbag - such a beautiful blue!

    Pomona x

  8. That was a fascinating read and I felt intrigued to see how felt is made and how you assemble a bag.
    Love the colour.
    Maggie X

  9. Love your beautiful handbag and the scarf is a wonderful addition! The color is one of my favorites! I've been wanting to try felting for a long time but it's hard to find pretty wool yarn in my town. But I have saved a few old wool sweaters to experiment with someday. Thanks for sharing! What a wonderful blog you have :)

  10. Wow, it was great to see how you got to the end product, which is amazing. xxx

  11. So that's how it's done! I love felted wool creations!
    Thanks for sharing at Pinkalicious Thursday and I hope you'll come back next week!

  12. Rae, your bag is beautiful! It was fascinating watching the wool go from its original form to its felted finish. What a cool process! Incredible, really!

    It is such a pleasure having you be a regular part of "A Little Birdie Told Me..." at Rook No. 17. You bring a lot of talent and inspiration to the party!


  13. What a fabulous bag! I did a day course in Nuno felting, but have yet to try wet felting... soon!

  14. This bag is fab! Learning to felt is definitely on my to do list and it's really interesting to see the process in action :)