Making a Bag From a Circle

When I first signed up for an online felting class with Lena Archbold, we were invited to join her Facebook group for her students.  It is a very supportive group and Lena cares very much about our learning.  During this time of enforced isolation, Lena has been trying to help boost everyone’s morale.  Even though she has her own things to deal with, she is still being supportive and helping us by offering up ideas.  She has a video that was live where she explained how to make a bag from a piece of felt she had lying around.  As one does!   I don’t know how many people have a meter square piece of flat felt just lying around.  But waste not…

I don’t have a large piece of felt lying around, but I could make a piece of felt, so I decided to have a go at making a bag.  It isn’t like I have a lot else to do these days.  I made a circular resist 24 inches in diameter.    I decided to use some Perendale Batt that I had purchased for needle felting ages ago.  It was just sitting around doing nothing and as I am using my stash, I thought I would give it a go.  I hadn’t used Perendale before, so I didn’t know how it would felt. This bag was eventually going to be a rectangular shape, so I needed to be careful with placement of the pocket and decoration.

IMG_0632I laid out the pocket first.


I laid out two different colors of the batt, first in Sienna (for the inside) and then in Rust.   This is the rust above.  When using batts, you are meant to split them and lay out in different directions.  I had 4 thin layers of batt.  I had to pick out a lot of bits and vegetable matter.  It was easier to pick out when the wool was wet and I did that after laying out and wetting each color.  You can see how the wool spread past the resist, but this didn’t matter as it was to be a flat piece of felt.  I laid out some extra batt in the middle of the circle for the bottom for extra strength.

IMG_0641This is my decoration where the pocket is going to be.

IMG_0636I then decorated the felt with merino wool, locks, threads, strings, and sari silk fibers.

IMG_0642Here we are still wet and after having been in the tumble dryer.  This piece was taking a long time to full down.  I had sanded it, rolled it, rubbed it, nuked it in the microwave, rolled some more, etc., etc.  After a couple of times in the dryer, we had some decent felt.

IMG_0645Here we are all rinsed out, spin dried, and stretched out, waiting to dry.

The next day I made up a felted rope for the bag, poked holes in my felt, gave it a trim to even up the edges and healed the edges and holes before stringing the handles through.

IMG_0656Here is the bag with the pocket.  I should have added an extra layer of wool in the pocket area, but it seems to be holding ok.

IMG_0652Side view.

IMG_0657Front view.  I used some buttons from my stash to decorate the bag.

IMG_0658Back View.

This is only my second bag and first intentional handbag.  Although the wool felted to a firm felt, I’m not sure it is as hard as it could be, but that could be the nature of the wool as it is also a bit hairy.  Though, if it was too hard, it may not have folded as well as it had.  As cute as this bag is, I don’t think I will be making another one like this again.  It was one of those things that just had to be done, at least once.

I did learn a couple of things.  Firstly, the Perendale batt is hairy and has a lot of VM.  I most likely won’t be purchasing this again, but I am happy to use it up in a bag.  Secondly, it does take a lot longer to felt than Merino.  I still have enough to make another bag, but I will actually make one on a resist, add some extra layers, and keep the decoration simple.  So, what have you made with leftover felt?

5 thoughts on “Making a Bag From a Circle

  1. Hi, I looked up Perendale for you in the Fleece and Fibre Sourcebook and it doesn’t mention its felting qualities, but it does say it is very lofty when spun, even when you try worsted spun which would normally give you a sleek yarn, it says you end up with a lofty yarn. For me, that would tell me it’s not really felting wool, unless you want something lighter and airy, which for a bag you’d want something a bit more dense. The finished bag is beautiful though, so I think it’s a success, but that may help explain why it took such a lot of effort. I’ve never heard of microwaving before.

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    1. I bought it from World of Wool and it says you can use it for wet felting, although I originally bought it for needle felting. Batts only come in 200g, so there was a lot and as I’m not really needle felting right now, I thought I would try it in a wet felting project. I consider the bag a sample and an experiment. Although the bag turned out ok and the wool is well felted, I don’t think making a bag this way is economical as there is a lot of waste of sorts, but it can be another way of using up a failed project. I might give it to my little neighbour when this is all over. As for the microwave, I use it to heat up my work during the fulling process, and it saves water doing it that way. However, don’t do it if using sari silk threads due to the metal in the silk as it will ignite and burn! 🙂

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  2. The bag turned out quite well after all the effort you put in. It’s to bad it’s not what you wanted in the end. When I saw the circle I was expecting one of the market bags they have been making on Fiona Duffie’s Facebook page. It was a nice surprise when it wasn’t.

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    1. Thanks Ann, I know the bag you mean. I do plan on making one of those, but not a square one! I knew what to expect as to the look, but not the wool. I won’t be making another one like this again, but sometimes we need to try new things. 🙂

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