I finished my first project with one of the sweaters I bought at the church bazaar. I turned the sweater into a purse. I have read and seen many patterns for knitting a purse and then felting it, but this is so much faster!
How To Turn A Sweater Into a Purse
1. You will have to find a wool sweater that is in pretty decent condition. I look for them in thrift stores. yard sales and I also put “ads” on freecycle.com and craigslist.org – asking for wool sweaters or wool blankets.
2. You then need to do the unthinkable to the wool sweater – wash it in hot water and dry it! This step is a little wasteful with water and energy use, but it is faster than doing it by hand in the sink. In the washing machine, turn the setting to the longest cycle and fill with hot water, a little bit of soap, the sweater and a pair of jeans. Once it is done washing, you will need to put it in the dryer – there will be A LOT of lint. I had to do the sweater through 2 washes and 2 dry cycles to get it to the felting condition I wanted – but you also want to make sure you do not make it too small that you can not a make the item that you want.
3. Cut the sleeves off the sweater. These can be turned into fingerless mittens with just a snip for the thumb hole. You can add designs, but I have not done so yet and am not sure if I will.
4. Now you need to cut the purse out. First is to take a bowl or the top of an oatmeal round container and cut out the handles. I mis-marked it on the photo, but you get the idea. The circle needed to be moved down some from the neck line so you would have enough felt for the handle. Cut the circle out and then trim up the handles.
5. Now to add some design to the purse. I decided to do some needle felting for the designs, using roving, a felting needle and felting pad. Be careful – the needles are very sharp!
6. Now to sew up the bottom. You can do this on your sewing machine using a regular needle, unless you have really thick felt. I wanted rounded corners, but you could sew it straight. I drew my guide line for the bottom seam and then used a bowl to round the corners.
7. Next is to make the handles a little more sturdy. I first determined where I would be holding the handles with my hands – folding the section over I sewed a straight line on each side and then sewed that section by folding the fabric over. Once that was done I rounded out the rest of the handle to the body of the purse. I really did not have to the last part, but I thought it made the bag look nicer.
8. I decided to put a magnetic snap on my purse. I purchased a 1/2″ size. Using some leftover felt, I first snipped a small hole for the prong and then measured where the other was to go, snipped the fabric again and inserted it into the felt. Using a piece of cardboard from a box – I pushed the prongs through that. I then took the metal support and place that over the prongs and used a hammer to bend the prongs flat, since I could not find my pliers – they used to be in the same cup with my scissors – but I guessed they walked away! I then trimmed the felt around each snap piece.
9. Figure out where you want the snap to be located on the inside of your purse. Sew one side on, making sure not to sew over your design, if you have one. I then put the snaps together and laid the purse out on the table – pinning the un-sewn one onto the purse – then it was back to the sewing machine to sew it on.
My purse was now done. The really nice thing about this purse, beside the fact that I made it – is that I can either hold it in my hand or the hole is large enough that I can put it on my shoulder.