Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Because I *Really* Needed a New Bag

To Recap: I've been wanting to make a recycled sweater felted bag like these for awhile.

Here are my materials:
A sweater from the thrift store, Grayson E. leather handles from Wool and Company, and the lining is a heavyweight cotton overdye from Wendy Richardson.

I felted the sweater by running it through the washer and dryer with some regular laundry, twice. I was initially disappointed at how much it shrunk up, but in the end it didn't really matter.

I wanted to cut each side 15" by 15". After you put the gusset in, that will make a standard tote bag size of 12 high by 11 wide, with about a 4" gusset. The problem was, that the sweater was way too narrow after felting, so I had to include those shoulder seams (see the curved seams in the photo above) in my side pieces, but I put those seams at the bottom and, becuase they are hidden in the bottom gusset, they don't show.

Here's a picture of the sleeve, cut apart. I loved the stripe and wanted to include it, so I used it for a pocket on the outside of the bag. (For the record, the bottom stripe that looks purple, is really a royal blue.)

My diary wouldn't be complete without showing a photo of my assistant, who had fun stealing the parts and dressing up with them any way she could!

I decided to underline the sweater with canvas, to help stablize the stretchiness of the sweater while sewing it, and to eliminate the slouch that you usually have with felted bags. I'm not usually a big fan of sloppy felted bags. The canvas, as well as the sturdy cotton lining help this bag keep its shape.

Ta da!
For the pocket, I cut a cotton lining square the same size as the pocket, placed them right sides together and stitched most of the way around, pulled them right sides out, and hand sewed the opening, just like making a pillow. Then I double topstitched it to the outside.

The handles were the hardest part. I tried to to sew them by machine using a size 100 needle and the zipper foot, but the tension got messed up and they looked like a wreck on the inside. So I ended up sewing them by hand, using 4 strands of brown thread that matched the color of the stitching already on the handles. And some places I double sewed them, to make sure. It involved cursing, but it was worth it!

In spite of some difficulty, it was overall a fun project. I liked the bag when it was finished, but after carrying it around for a few days, it's growing on me even more and I'm starting to feel love. Now I'm on the hunt for a black sweater.....


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Love it!

12:25 PM  
Blogger FemiKnitMafia said...

Oh, I love it. Love it so so so much. It looks so professional. Very impressed.

12:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

De-Lurking to say - What a cool bag!! Handles are worth every bit of cursing involved.

I have been delving into my fabric stash to find something worthy of making a new knitting bag - maybe what I need to do is to go find sweaters instead!

2:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Way cute!!! It's one of those things I think about doing but never get around to. And all 5 of my assistants are finally in school!

2:25 PM  
Blogger Leslie said...

Very cute! I've wanted to make a bag like this, too, but have never found a sweater I like. Guess I need to keep hitting the thrift shops!

2:34 PM  
Blogger Ewe-niss said...

Oh, oh! Gorgeous! I bought a bunch a wool sweaters before Christmas - I felted them all. Now they sit waiting. Yours is the best sweater felted bag I have seen so far.

Good job!

2:44 PM  
Blogger Amy Munson said...

Fabulous idea. I have a few wool sweater I just love but never wear that will be reincarnated as a bag.

2:51 PM  
Blogger TURBOchic said...

It looks great! I am determined to find a sweater that I can do this with at the trift store. I am starting to think that y'all aren't really shopping at those places when you find beauties like these.

3:06 PM  
Blogger Kim West said...

great bag!! I love it.

3:28 PM  
Blogger Mary B said...


3:46 PM  
Blogger Jessica said...

That's fantastic. I love the colors.

7:01 PM  
Blogger Donna said...

I'm very new to crafting, sewing, knitting, etc. Help me understand, what do you mean you felted it by washing it?


1:37 PM  
Blogger Rhonda the Stitchingnut said...

Wow, that is fantastic! I love it!!

1:58 PM  
Blogger LK said...

Love it! I have a lovely lambs wool sweater that I have been wanting to felt.

2:34 PM  
Blogger Dot said...

oh, i love it! Beautiful job! I think i'm too lazy to attempt the handles though :)

10:36 AM  
Blogger Tabitha the KnittingJourneyman said...

You did an incredible job--the bag is gorgeous. I've been meaning to make one from AlterKNits too--but I sure am too lazy to attempt the handles. Excellent workmanship--very professional looking. :-) Great job.

11:39 AM  
Blogger Kay said...

You poor thing, you NEEDED a bag REAL BAD.

It's so beautifully made. I hate the felted bag slouch, too. Need to learn the secrets of the underlining.

xo Kay

8:25 PM  
Blogger Mary said...

In love with the bag (and also LOVE that christmas-y apron!) any chance you might put one or two up on etsy? I think one you made would be WAY better than anything I could do!

5:49 PM  
Blogger The Yarn Nut said...

That is the cutest thing. I have a friend in my knit group that did the same thing. Bought tons of sweaters at the thrift store and made purses. I have one of her bags and one clutch and love them.

7:55 AM  
Blogger Judy said...

so I've been lookin' for the perfect sweater.......thanks!


9:53 PM  
Blogger Bärbel Born said...


8:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Beautiful. And, of course, I LOVE the color!!!

Where did you get the handle??


9:02 AM  
Blogger Lyric said...

I'm totally jealous! I've been looking out for wool sweaters for ages out our thrift shops. For some reason they just can't be found here in NC. Of course some time next week when it's back up to 70 degrees here I'll be thankful.

8:23 PM  
Blogger Lanea said...

That looks great. I love the sweater you chose.

7:49 PM  
Blogger kt said...

That is just gorgeous.

1:19 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Color fabrics that is. very good variations, I love the sweater you chose.
Fabrics USA Inc | African Wax Print Fabric

4:45 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

nice work. like it,
Sequin Fabrics

1:12 PM  
Blogger Spandex collection said...

OMG its really beautiful. Nice to see this. I found some excellent fabrics from Spandex Collectionin NYC near me which was a nice weight, not too beefy.
Stretch Sequins
Glitter Stone
Designers Lace
Stretch Lace
Printed Spandex

3:57 AM  

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