Friday, 18 September 2009

Autumn Berry Bag - Tutorial

Recently I've been getting a lot of questions about how I do and make things. Its nice, as I have only been making felt for 3 months, and would not have learned nearly so much if other crafts folk had not kindly and patiently answered my questions or offered advice. Its nice to be part of the creative and learning cycle.

I made this bag, its a simple design, and fun to work with such bright cheery colours. I thought I'd share my method for other felt makers or those who have not yet made felt but want to give it a try. Think of it like a recipe, use the methods you like and remove or substitute the things you do not.


Step 1 - Making the felt

First of all I needle felted red wool into a sheet. I laid the wool out in layers as I were wet felting. I used a large foam block and laid 4-5 layers of wool,first horizontal, then vertical. I used a felting needle to repetitively poke at the wool until the sheet was adequately felted. This took around 4 hours but does not need much concentration, it can be done whilst talking to friends, relaxing in the garden, listening to music or watching TV. So don't worry too much about the time it takes. Just be careful not to get too distracted that you wind up sticking the needle in your fingers :)

I chose to needle felt a sheet of wool to make this bag as I love the soft hairy feel you get on the reverse side when you lift the felted sheet free from the foam. It was difficult to get a picture that shows this effect but if you are familiar with felt you will know what I mean. There is no reason why you cannot wet felt a sheet to use if that is what you prefer.


Step 2 - Creating the Shape

When you have a sheet of felt to work with, double it over, take a dinner plate or something that fits your sheet of felt, and draw a circle around it with a felt pen. Carefully cut the circle out. Try to leave the section where the felt is folded intact so that you have a stronger base for your bag.

When the felt is cut to shape it should look like this. Now stitch the two sides together so that the joined section of felt lies at the bottom and that the circles are sewn around 3/4 of the way round, leaving an open space at the top of the bag.


Step 3 - Making the strap

For the strap I took the longest strands of red wool I had (unfelted merino). I laid the wool length ways and then took second length of wool and wrapped it around the first length of wool. Winding the second length of wool around the first in a corkscrew style spiral. I occasionally jabbed at the wool with the felting needle to secure it in place. I did this until the original length of wool had been completely wrapped in wool. Its okay if the second length of wool runs out. Take some more and continue where the 2nd length left off.

Once the 1st length of wool is completely wrapped with the other lengths of wool and is about as thick as a finger or thumb, begin to jab your felting needle into the strap repeatedly. Do this until you are satisfied that the strap has been felted enough.

Once you are atisfied that the strap has been sufficiently needle felted, take the strap between both of your hands and roll it between your hands until the strap is around 1/3 of the width it was when you finished needle felting it. If you hold a the strap loosely in both of your hands then quickly pull it taut, you should hear that twang sound that you hear when you do the same thing to rope. Your strap is very strong.

The strap of the bag can be any length you choose, but I think it looks best when it is just long enough to go over the shoulder and to tuck the bag neatly under the arm. Offer the strap up agaist the bag until you have the length you prefer. Now sew it to the bag using red embroidery thread.

Step 4 - Finishing Touches

So right now, you have a circular red bag. To complete the berry, you will need to take some green wool and quickly needle felt it into a shape of a berry top and stalk like in the picture above. It is best to do this at this stage of the bag making so that you can see the width and shape that the green stalk needs to be. Make 2 stalks,one for each side of the bag.

When you have the shape that you desire, place a piece of sponge inside the bag, separating the two sides. Jab the needle into the wool securing the stalk to the bag. Do this repetitively until the stalk is secure. Repeat on the other side of the bag.

Now take a piece of green wool and lay it against the inside of the bag and secure it in place with the felting needle. This will give a more finished look to the bag when opening the bag up.

Now that you have completed all of the above 4 steps all that needs to be done is to sew the strap up o each side of the bag until it meets with the green stalk top or until you have a small but practical opening size for the bag. I don't intend to use a zip or fastening button on this bag. Gently tug at the felt until you have the circular shape you desire.

Enjoy making and using your bag :)

21 comments:

Caio Fernandes said...

this is a really cool bag !! girls should use things like this all the time . it is much more feminine and fun .

Poetic Artist said...

I love the bag and Oh my you must have patience. I best stay away from felt..LOL.
I will just watch you and your beautiful felt.
Katelen

Manya Maratou said...

hello jasmine it is wonderful that you have posted this. so much work! the bag is lovely.

velvetwoods said...

Wow that is excellent,such a cute bag.
Interesting the art of felting must try it one day,thanks !

lettuce said...

gorgeous bag, and its a great tutorial, I'll link to it on my craft blog (which I've been sadly neglecting)

CJ Stitching and Blooms said...

Good Morning Jasmine, An excellent tutorial. Your bag is lovely. Hugs Judy

Shadow said...

you're a crafty girl you!

Jasmine said...

Caio - Thank you :) I made it for my little sister who just turned 21 so I wanted it to be both feminine and fun.

Katelen - Thanks, I think felt making is more of an addiction than a virtue of patience...

Manya - Thank you. I've wanted to leave comments on your blogs but have been having a lot of problems leaving comments. I had to change my comment settings so hat I could leave comments on my own blog page...

Velvetwoods - Thank you. I love your garden wall art. I am having problems leaving comments on any blog that has the comments on the same page as the post. But I am still visiting you :)

Lettuce - Thank you for linking y post. I've just been over to look at your craft blog. Its great, but I couldn't leave coments. So frustrating...

Thank you Judy, hugs x

Shadow - I love your poetry.

Jukka said...

Hi!

My name is Jukka and I found your fantastic blog while surfing. I wish I where a woman so I could use this!

Jasmine said...

Jukka - Thanks for dropping by. Felt is lovely, there are many manly things to be made with felt too :)

Art4Sol said...

Yes, it's a wonderful bag... and so nice of you to share your knowledge with us!

Shammickite said...

Looks lovely but I have no idea what needle felting is and when you talk about "wool" are you meaning wool fabric or wool yarn for knitting?

yvette said...

a quick beybey...the long mail will follow when I'm back this weekend...love you!!!!!!!!

Assayya said...

inspiring, this tutorial.
i found a place where they sell all kinds of wool.
it is not so far from my village.
i am looking for a good spinning wheel too
i love this work during the cool winterdays that will come

Crafty Green Poet said...

what a lovely bag, thanks for the tutorial...

Tammie Lee said...

Hello from the 'road'. You are so generous sharing your journey to make this bag! And such a bag oozing with wonderful whimsy!

Jasmine said...

Thank you all for your comments :)

Shammickite - Thank you for visiting.
I have used wool that has been washed and carded but has not been sun into yarns or balls of wool. There are two min techniques of making felt that I know of but I am sure there will be others that I don't know about yet.

These techniques are 'wet felting' and 'needle felting'. Needle felting is where you lay out out the wool then repetitively prod at it with a special felting needle. The needle has a barb on it, so when you push fibres down and then pull the needle back up, the fibres merge together...

I hope that makes things clearer.

Raph G. Neckmann said...

What a beautiful bag! I like the seasonal theme too.

kartika said...

your blog is beautiful and thank you for stopping by - i love knitting too and have made a couple of bags - yours is lovely!

GreenWhisper said...

Hi Jasmine, Cool Bag! a beautiful blog you have here too :)

Tammie Lee said...

I got lost looking at your felt work and found my way back to this post. It is a wonderfully shape for a bag!