Tag Archives: tote bag

Adventures in Felting

Ages and ages ago, I purchased a book on making neat things out of wool sweaters from thrift stores that had been felted and cut up. I even went so far as to buy several sweaters at Value Village, and felt them. So for the past god knows how long, I have had felted sweaters sitting in my crafty stash, taking up space, collecting dust and cat hair, and generally just getting in the way. I have always been really good at coming up with ideas, but not so great at following through.

Enter Pinterest. I follow several crafty ladies, and someone had pinned this lovely sweater bag. Immediately, I knew what I’d be doing – this was the perfect use for one of those felted sweaters hanging out in a milk crate under my desk! And even better, it would make a perfect gift for someone in my family. So I got out my sewing scissors, and went for it. I snipped and cut and pinned and sewed. At first I thought it would be lovely if I could line it with a bright cotton print, but that attempt failed pretty quickly when I realized how long it would take me to pin the lining in place. The felted sweater was too thick to fold down and sew the handles as per the linked tutorial, so instead I reinforced the stretchy edges by running it through my serger, and using a fray-stopper on the snipped threads. The original tutorial had a plain square bottom seam, so to help round the corners a bit, I sewed a seam 2.5″ in from the corner at a 45-degree angle from side to bottom, and then snipped off the excess fabric inside. I feel this gives a nicer shape to the bag, even if it compromises a little in the interior space.

Once I made the bag, I realized that it needed some character, some oomph, something to make it extra-fun. I went stash-diving and found some gorgeous variegated green wool. I used this felted flower corsage tutorial and crocheted up three flowers to felt. I originally planned to do a crocheted rolled rosette, but after test-felting one, it turned into an unidentifiable ball of green. These flowers felted up nicely, it took two washes for the big one and three for the small ones to get just the right amount of felting for me. Once they were done and dried, I pinned them on the bag, and hand-stitched them in place.

Overall, I’m really happy with this upcycled project. I have a couple more felted sweaters in my stash that are sure to have a similar fate!

Rainy Day Book Tote

When Eliza’s preschool teacher announced at the end of May that she would be retiring that year, I immediately had a mini panic attack – I had planned to get her a small token of thanks for all her hard work with Eliza through the school year, but now that she was retiring I felt like I had to take it up a notch. Gift cards seemed too impersonal, and I didn’t exactly have a ton of time to shop before her goodbye party, either. I decided that I would sew, and after picking the brains of some friends, settled on a simple library tote.

This library tote is a combination of three tutorials. First, the construction of the bag is adapted from the Library Tote tutorial over at Elle Belle Creative, the applique is from the Cloudy Day Applique Tote tutorial by Retro Mama on CraftSnob, and I used Fat Orange Cat’s instructions on how to insert a pocket. Fabric choice was easy – I had a couple yards of a medium-weight khaki cotton twill that fit the bill perfectly. The lining and appliques are lighter quilting-weight cotton. Those little raindrops are precisely the reason I keep teeny tiny fabric scraps in my stash – you never know when the perfect scrappy project will come up! I don’t have any great close-ups of the applique, but it’s all stitched with a straight stitch just inside the applique with white thread. Because of the twill’s weight, I didn’t bother using a layer of interfacing. If you make a bag like this and use linen or a lighter cotton, a layer of interfacing would be more necessary to give the bag some structure. I ended up making the bag a little bigger than the tutorials showed, too, and I’m glad I did. It really needed the extra couple inches. Because the pocket and lining are a fairly light fabric, too, I added a square of fusible medium-weight interfacing about an inch bigger than the pocket in both dimensions, and ironed it onto the wrong side of the lining fabric before sewing the pocket on. This gives the lining fabric a little extra strength against something heavy in the pocket.

The only thing I wish I had done differently is I wish I had made two! I want one for myself, but I haven’t had the chance to sew up another just yet. Maybe on a rainy fall day, I’ll have a chance to make another to keep.





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