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Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Felted Sweater Purse

A friend of mine asked me for some tips on making the felted sweater purse so I thought I'd share my thoughts with y'all.  I'm going to do bullet points because I don't feel like typing in paragraphs.

  • You need to get a 100% wool sweater.  If you have one that has even 10 percent acrylic, it's not going to work the way that you want, trust me.  I thought that I found a perfect sweater but it turns out that it had a little acrylic so I couldn't shrink the fibers enough to make it felt.  (I read on one blog that the sweater didn't have to be 100% wool but I think they hadn't actually tried felting it because I washed/dried that 10% acrylic sweater about 5 times and it's just not right.  You can let me know if you have one that does shrink enough to be felted).
  • Stick the sweater in a zippered pillowcase with a couple tennis balls (or golf balls if your hubby plays more golf than tennis).  This will catch all of the fluffy stuff that comes off of the sweater so that it doesn't clog up your washing machine. This tip is from my awesome friend, Melody.  Thanks, Mel!
  • Choose the hottest setting on your washing machine.  I also chose the longest wash setting.  Not sure if that's necessary but that's how I did it.
  • Add a little bit of detergent to your wash cycle and fill the washing machine with just enough water to cover your filled pillowcase.  Top loading washing machines are better for this project because they agitate more.  Doing laundry agitates me.
  • When the cycle ends, open the pillowcase, take out the fluffy stuff, and then put the filled pillowcase in the dryer on the hottest setting.  I took my golf balls out because Charlotte was terrified of the thumping sound.  I do have to admit that it did sound like a huge monster jumping in the laundry room.
  • I had to run the sweater through two dry cycles before it was dry and then I decided that it needed a couple more washes and dry cycles.  
  • My next tip is...get a pattern for a purse.  
  • Yes, I know I made mine up.  
  • It was frustrating.  And it didn't turn out exactly as I had hoped.  
  • The good news is, it's easy to sew through the felt.  I was worried that it would be really tough for my machine to get through but it sewed it with ease.  
  • To make mine, I cut a pattern out of cardboard.  I cut the front and back exactly the same and then figured out how big I wanted the flap to be.  I only lined the inside of the bag, not the flap, but in hindsight, I should have done both. 
  • I added the handle next.  I lined it with the same fabric as the inside of the purse by sewing them wrong sides together and then turning them.  I finger pressed (squeezed with my fingers) the seams so that it would lay flat when I sewed it onto the inside of each corner of the purse.  I went over the handle seam twice so that it would be extra strong.  
  • To sew in the lining, I folded about half an inch of the lining fabric down and ironed it.  Then, I put the lining in the purse, wrong sides together, and sewed around the edge of the purse.  The stitching doesn't show on the outside of the purse because the felt is so tightly woven that the stitches seem to disappear.  
  • Then, I pushed and pulled the purse until it had a shape that I was fairly happy with.  I wrapped it up and smiled when my mother-in-law opened it.  
  • Wished my mom was here so I could make one of these for her.  She loved purses!
Does that answer all the questions?  Do you have more?  Feel free to ask and I'll do my best to answer or find the answers!

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