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. Just ask my husband about the multitude of half-finished projects that reside in my basement. For example, it took me over a year to repair his ripped pajama pants. Oops. But I digress.
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 idea fizzled 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 threaded with dark brown thread, 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 in my ridiculous yarn collection 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 felted yarn so it was quickly abandoned. 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, securing them with a little fabric glue underneath as well.
Overall, I’m really happy with this upcycled project. Since making this one as a gift for my mother-in-law, I have made two more for friends and I love how they’ve turned out. I still have a couple felted sweaters hanging out in my stash, I might just have to make myself one of these totes, too!