I decided to make a small bag from handmade felt to carry a sketchbook and a few pens out and about with me.

a. Finished_Bag_Side_1

I didn’t make a plan or measure anything. To start with I just laid out a piece of felt with some randomly placed small pieces of bubble wrap to make pockets then I figured I’d work with what I ended up with to cobble a bag together!
I thought it would keep it more spontaneous (and be less effort if I’m honest!)

b. Laying_Out

c. Wet_Down

d. Felted_Close_Up

In one way it was easier because the layout was carefree, then in another it was hard work because I realised I put the initial attempt at “lining” fabric (some scrim) on the wrong side and also the spacing of the pockets was completely wrong for utilising all the felt fabric I had made.

e. Testing_The_Pockets

However, it means I’ve got a piece of felt leftover for a future project and also the bag miraculously ended up OK!  I cut 2 pieces out incorporating 2 pockets then ironed some interfacing on to each piece to make them more sturdy.  I reinforced each pocket with a line of machine stitch.
Then I decided to neaten the top edges by folding over and machine stitching then trimming away the excess.
I sewed round the edges of the two pieces with right sides together then turned it out to make the basic bag shape.  I realised at this stage I was not going to get away with not lining it as it looked a bit shabby inside with the interfacing on show.
So I cut some thin cotton navy fabric and made a pocket lining to sew inside.  That was a palaver!  But I got there in the end and it looked surprisingly neat!

f. Making_The_Lining

Lastly, I just needed to figure out a handle.
I found some yellow webbing and sewed that on before realising I had forgotten to topstitch round the outside of the bag so I did it afterwards.  I think it worked out OK.

g. Finished_Bag_Side_2

h. Detail_Of_Stitching

I mostly like to make felted artwork so this was a nice change to make, and definitely a challenge! 🙂


I have a plastic umbrella that I intended to cannabalize to make a felt parasol, but I wondered how I would control the spokes once the plastic had been removed.

1. Umbrella

So I decided to take the easy way out and leave the plastic in place.  Originally I planned to make a felt cover then stitch it to the plastic, but after a bit of thought I decided that if I made a detachable felt cover, I could have an umbrella AND a parasol.

I would need to make some felt that would be fine enough to be lightweight yet strong enough to cut and stitch, and it would need to be firm, not stretchy.

I had an idea that nuno felt, with the fabric sandwiched between layers of wool, would work.  I needed to make a sample!

I used some very fine net, plain yellow merino wool, a mini-batt leftover from another project and some 2 ply wool.

2. items used in sample

The sample is a ‘sandwich’ made of two fine layers of yellow merino wool, a piece of net, one fine layer of yellow merino wool topped with one fine layer of blended yellow/orange merino wool.  I added a 6″ (15.25cm) square made from 4 lengths of 2-ply wool to make the shrinkage estimate easier.

3. Sample with shrinkage square - pre felting

I used tepid water and gentle rubbing then rolling to felt the sample. Here it is after drip-drying.  You can see that although the net has gone frilly around the edge, it didn’t buckle the felt at all – the felt is flat.  The shrinkage was 17%.

4. Sample post felting

The felt was thin, lightweight and strong.

My plan was to sew panels of felt together to make the removable cover, so I experimented on the sample.

The felt cut beautifully – the cut edges were firm.

5. Experimental cut of sample

First I tried a plain seam.  The felt travelled under the needle effortlessly and smoothly.

6. Sewing the sample

The plain seam looked good but was too bulky, so I cut the sample again, butted the cut edges together and joined them with a wide zig-zag stitch.  Perfect!  It made a strong, flat seam.

7. Seams

I thought a test was needed on the zigzag seam so I gripped it firmly between both hands and gave it several sharp tugs.  It held fast – probably thanks mainly to the layer of net.

Sorry the photo below is a tiny bit blurry – I put the camera on a tripod then set the shutter timer for 10 seconds.  I yanked and yanked on the felt until the photo was taken so it’s an action shot!

8. Testing the zigzag seam

I would need 8 triangles of felt to make the removable cover, so allowing for shrinkage each triangle would have to be laid out 45cm (18″) wide at the base and 65cm (26″) high.

I decided it would be daft to lay out a triangle exactly – it could mis-shape during felting – so I made a paper template to the correct size, to use as a guide during layout, then ‘squared off’ the point of the triangle.  After felting, the triangle could then be cut accurately from the larger piece.

10. layout

My colours and pattern for the parasol would be an hommage to Annie’s ‘Flowers on Coverack Beach’ but in a very, very minimalist style using just 3 colours.

9. pattern inspiration

I carded a batt of blue blend merino wool and a batt of yellow blend merino wool…

11. yellow and blue blends

…and found some spools of bright red thread in my stash.  I don’t know what it is but it looks like there’s some wool fibres in it.

12. unknown red thread

I expect you’re wondering why I’ve only got half a parasol?

Well … things happened. My time-plan collapsed so I’ve only made 6 panels so far!

13. six panels

I need to make 2 more panels, cut all 8 to shape, then stitch them together.  I’ll post a photo of the finished parasol on the forum soon!



  1. I really like the bag, good and sturdy and must have been fun to make. Looking forward to seeing the finished parasol/umbrella. In fact I love the original umbrella and can think of all sorts of removable covers in different disciplines – crochet, lace, patchwork, sandwich work (bits of this and that sandwiched between two layers of organza) etc., etc., as well as different felts. I belong to an AmDram Society and help with costume and stage dressing and that umbrella would have been wonderful in pantos – sad now to wonder if we’ll every be able to do it again.

    1. Thank you Ann – I used the wrong button so my reply to your comment is below.

  2. Thank you Ann. Annie really had fun making the bag and as she enjoys sketch-booking it will be useful.
    Yes, the umbrella could be covered in so many pretty ways and could be made to fit in with whatever play/panto you needed to supply costume for. It’s often easier to make what you want than to try to buy it ready made.

  3. Annie, I love the bag! All the different textures and materials make it really interesting. Did you use a template or make just one big piece of felt. Lyn, I can’t wait to see how the parasol turns out. You sure have made a project for yourself! 🙂

    1. Thank you Arlene – I love Annie’s bag too. She didn’t make a template. She winged it and it turned out lovely!
      The parasol is quite a project – I’m making panel 7 today and hopefully panel 8 tomorrow.

  4. The bag is great. It is nice to know I am not the only one that just wings it and then wishes they had thought about it more. It usually works out in the end.
    The parasol will be wonderful. I am looking forward to seeing how you attach it and how it looks inside and out.

    1. Thank you Ann. Annie much prefers winging to planning! But her things always turn out well.
      I hope the parasol turns out ok – maybe I should have winged it rather than planned it!

  5. Annie – your bag is perfect for the summer months coming up. It is so functional for sketching. I’m sure you will create some great sketches and memories with your new bag.

    Lyn – I know how much work it is to cover an umbrella. https://feltingandfiberstudio.com/2013/07/14/umbrella-tree-completed/

    Yours is going to look completely different than the one I created though. I love the simplicity of the color palette. I’m interested in how you will attach it so that it’s removable. Looking forward to seeing it completed 😊 You really made it a challenge!

  6. Annie can’t go anywhere without making a sketch or taking photos!

    Oh yes, I remember your tree! You are correct. I have set myself a challenge. Each panel takes me about 2.5 hours to layout and felt.
    I’m also interested in how I’m going to attach it … I have a plan but until I try it out I have no idea if it will be successful 🙂

    1. p.s. I think the felting of the panels is taking a bit longer than I thought because of the net middle and I’m starting with almost cold water to give migration a good chance.

    2. I think these types of projects always take longer than expected but it’s better to go slow than to have to do it over because you rushed it.

    1. Thank you Marilyn – Annie is loving all the positive comments!

  7. Wow
    A great practical bag from Annie. I’m sure even though she winged it, that there was a good amount of thinking it through even though she didn’t make a trial piece.
    Lyn….you have certainly challenged yourself with this one. Your thinking & samples are very sound & allow us to join you on your detailed journey. I hope you’ve now completed all your panels. I’m looking forward to seeing the finished piece & how you will attach it to be removable.

    1. Thank you Antje. Annie reckons she didn’t think it through but maybe her subconscious was working overtime.

      I finished panel 8 yesterday. Now I’m panicking. I’ve done the easy bit. A misjudged measurement or sloppy scissor work could result in a large piece of felt in my scrap box! Whatever happens I’ll share it with everyone on the forum.

    1. Thank you Char. Your kind words will be well received by Annie!

    1. Thank you for your lovely comment – it’s great to have projects to do during this weird time!

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