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!