After my four days of dyeing experiment, I carded a bunch of batts with the different fibers I had dyed. I decided I wanted to do something a little challenging using the batts. So, after doodling around with a few ideas I settled on a handbag using a couple of the techniques I learned in Fiona Duthie’s Surface Design Class.
I didn’t have a pattern. So, I used the general shape of the purse I carry now and added 30% for shrinkage and made a template. It took a lot more planning than I had anticipated so I got very engrossed in making sure I had everything organized and followed each step in the right order. Unfortunately, I worked intuitively and forgot to write down the procedure and take pictures at each step.
I wanted to use fiber for the shoulder strap, but I also wanted it to be strong and not stretch. I made the shoulder strap first using a tightly woven scrim cut with the grain between layers of wool. I left long ends unfelted and wrapped plastic at the ends to try to protect it from the water, not that it helped. This would be the part I would felt to the bottom and sides of the handbag so it would be all one piece. Then I used a dowel to roll the strap until it was partially felted.
Here is one side of the purse with scrim lining between the wool layers, resist and a resist for one of the inner pockets. I wet one side then proceeded to lay out the other side working backwards from inside out. Laying out more pocket resists, the back and back pocket. I know that sounds strange, it was a little mind boggling.
The decoration for the flap had to be done first before attaching it to the bundle to felt. The middle was felted by hand and the circle of fiber around it was left unfelted in order to add additional fibers to felt into the bundle.
The handles were laid out on the bottom and the sides then worked on the sides first to ensure they held together during the felting process.
It was quite a thick bundle and once it was felted enough, I cut out the resists and continued to full and shape it until it sat up by itself. When dry, it had that “thud” of being completely fulled.
I wonder if I could duplicate this again? Maybe if I do I’ll write a tutorial. The one thing I would do differently is to put the shoulder straps on the inside of the bottom and sides rather than outside. That would be another challenge. What do you think?