I decided to make a small bag from handmade felt to carry a sketchbook and a few pens out and about with me.
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!)
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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%.
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.
First I tried a plain seam. The felt travelled under the needle effortlessly and smoothly.
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.
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!
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.
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.
I carded a batt of blue blend merino wool and a batt of yellow blend merino wool…
…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.
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!
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!