|Felted wool purse, with a leather strap and floral print lining.|
The key to felting sweaters is to be absolutely sure they are 100 percent wool -- no nylon, no acrylic, no rabbit fur, no cotton -- just 100 percent wool. Garments are required to be labeled with the content of the fabric, but if you happen to come across one that isn't labeled, leave it on the rack. It isn't worth your time or money. Brands like LLBean, Land's End and Woolrich make wool sweaters, but always check the label. Crew necks and cardigan sweaters will yield the most felted wool...don't forget to look in the men's department for larger sizes!
Some sweaters will felt quicker than others but overall, it's an easy process. Set your top-loading* washing machine to the hottest water temperature and add about 1/4 cup of inexpensive shampoo or laundry soap like Ivory Snow (but not detergent). Use a long wash cycle; when finished, throw the sweater into the dryer on high heat until it is just damp. Check and see if it is sufficiently felted -- shrunken to about half its original size and the fabric is about 1/4" thick. If not, repeat the wash and dry cycle one (or two) more times. Remove it from the dryer while it is still damp, pat it flat, and allow it to finish air drying. (*I tried this in my front-loading washer, it is didn't do well, so I made a run to the local laundromat. The agitator is the key to felting.)
When the sweater is completely dry, cut it apart along the seams. Then it's ready to turn into something fun!
|The sleeves, cut apart along the seam lines.|
|The purse pieces, cut from felt: one back/flap, one front and two 3" strips to make a 21" long gusset.|
|Pressing the bias trim in half, wrong sides together.|
|The ruffle, pinned in place along the inside of the flap.|
|Sewing 'wrong sides together' leaves the seam allowances on the outside of the purse.|
|With the plastic canvas inserted into the bag, it can stand by itself.|
I slipped the lining back into the bag and pinned it all around the purse edges, then top-stitched it into place, leaving a 2" opening on the flap and around the purse top. (Note: the book instructions called for the lining to be hand-sewn into the purse, but I really wanted it to be secure, so I decided to top-stitch it. If I make another, I may hand-sew it.)
|I cut plastic to back the snap closures.|
|Place the 'male' snap on the flap, then mark the spot for the female snap.|
The directions suggest using a recycled strap taken from an old purse, but I had some dusty blue suede from a jacket I had recycled, and decided to make my own strap. It needed to be about 30 inches long, so I sewed a few pieces together to give me the correct length, then sewed two straps, right sides together, along each side. The strap was attached to the purse with 'D' rings.
|The 1 inch wide strips of blue suede were sewn together to create a strap for the purse.|