Felted Woollen Bag

Materials

  • Woollen fabric scraps to make two 46 x 51cm (18 x 20in) pieces
  • Two pieces 46 x 51cm (18 x 20in) of coordinating cotton background fabric
  • Two pieces 46 x 51cm (18 x 20in) of wadding
  • Two strips 50 x 10cm (20 x 4in) of woollen fabric for handles
  • Two strips 50 x 10cm (20 x 4in) of coordinating cotton fabric for handles
  • Two strips 50 x 10cm (20 x 4in) of wadding for handles
  • Two pieces 46 x 51cm (18 x 20in) of cotton fabric for lining
  • Coordinating woollen yarn for stitching
  • Spray glue
  • Pins and coordinating cotton thread

Finished Size

40 x 42cm (16 x 16 1⁄2in)

Skill Level

Beginner

Suppliers

Have a rummage in your wardrobe for those long forgotten winter woollens and give them a new lease of life!

This workbag can be made from felted woollens, jerseys, scarves etc. Felt your old woollens by putting them through the hottest wash and then the tumble drier. Be prepared for colours to run, so wash colours separately. If you donít have a ready supply of old woollens try asking in a local charity shop if they have any that are too worn to sell and would just go to waste

Method

  1. Prepare your pieces of felt according to what you have in your stash. Look at Figure 1 and cut out circles of felt and cut the same size circle hole from the background felt. You can be as adventurous as you like. Use teacups and saucers as templates or find other shapes that you like and use those. You can choose to make your bag a different size but it is not a strong bag so donít make it too large.
  2. Take one piece of the coordinating cotton fabric and spray glue your felt pieces into position: these may be just as easily pinned and tacked. This cotton fabric stabilises the rather stretchy woollens and wadding; it needs to be in a coordinating colour as it may show through at the seams.
  3. Spray glue a piece of wadding onto the back of the cotton fabric. Using woollen yarn and a decorative stitch, e.g. blanket, attach all pieces through all layers as shown. Be aware that the felt will distort a little as it stretches with your sewing and that you will need to trim the finished piece. For this reason stop stitching 2in or so away from the outer edges leaving a long thread, finishing off only when all edges have been trimmed straight.
  4. When both the front and back of the bag are complete lay them one on top of the other and trim 3⁄4in bigger on the sides and bottom than the finished bag size you require. Trim the top edge so that you have a neat edge but do not trim any more than is necessary, as you need to make a deep top hem.
  5. Take the back piece and trim 3⁄4in from the two sides and the bottom. Set aside. It will be smaller than the front at this stage.

Making the handles and finishing the bag

  1. Using the measurements in the Materials section spray glue a strip of wadding on one side and roll it into a tight sausage along its length. Take a strip of coordinating cotton fabric, spray glue one side and wrap it around the wadding sausage. Repeat with the strip of woollen fabric. You may wrap over the seam or you may prefer to trim the excess and have abutting edges. Using your decorative stitch finish off the seam. Repeat to make two handles.
  2. Take the bag pieces and turn down each top edge at least 1in to make a decent hem. Cut two handle slots at each top edge as shown, 4 3⁄4in from the side edges. Insert the ends of the handles and secure with the decorative stitch on the outside. You may wish at this point to take out some of the bulk of the handles so that they lie flat within the notches. You may also strengthen the handle by stitching more securely on the inside.
  3. Place the front and the back WS together, with the back on top, with the upper edges level and the 3⁄4in seam allowances at the sides and base. Turn the extra fabric from the front over to the back and stitch into position using a decorative stitch. Mitre the bottom corners by cutting off a small triangle.
  4. Cut lining fabric 1⁄2in wider than the finished bag and 1in or so longer. Stitch the lining pieces RS together using a 1⁄4in seam. Place inside the woollen bag and position lining seams over seams inside the bag. Turn down the top edge of the lining over the top hem of the bag thereby hiding the bottom edge of the handles. Slip stitch into position.
Figure 1: Layout of bag front and back
Figure 1: Layout of bag front and back

First published in Popular Patchwork Volume 13 Number 1 - January 2005