Thursday, 30 December 2010

Perfect Presents

If you want to buy me a present, whether it be for my birthday, Christmas or any other reason for that matter, then I am easily pleased .... my favourite perfume, a little something from Tiffany or failing that, a good book.

Now I have to admit I have been truly blessed with my husband and his family. Whenever a present buying occasion looms, they ask me for a list of gifts I would like. I duly supply them with a list of CDs, books, DVDs, perfume etc that I would like and they buy me something from my list. Fabulous! You may argue that there is no element of surprise in that but at least you end up with gifts you want and need, rather than a pile to sell on eBay at a later date!

This Christmas, I put down a couple of craft books that looked interesting. I am always on the hunt for new crafts to try and different ideas to incorporate into my handbags. My lovely in-laws bought both of the books I had on my list and I have to say, they are well worth buying or borrowing from your local library.

Firstly, is "Freeform Crochet and Beyond" by Renate Kirkpatrick. Whilst I can knit, I have never tried crochet. I bought a needle years ago which is as far as I have ever got. Recently, I saw crochet mentioned on a television programme and it sparked my interest again. However, I knew I didn't just want to make squares for a throw, I needed more than that. I find a good place for book hunting is Amazon, so I did a search on crochet to see what came up. With Amazon's look inside feature you can view the contents and a few pages of books to get a feel for them. In the past I have also borrowed them from the library to see if they are worth buying. I have bought books in the past and ended up disappointed with the contents.

"Freeform Crochet and Beyond" is well worth a look though if you are a novice or a crochet guru. The book begins with the basics and gives very clear illustrations on the different stitches and techniques required. It then progresses to the obligatory squares and then into flowers, scarves, hats, handbags, jewellery, cushions and shawls. It also gives information on incorporating your crochet into felt work, another area that really interests me. The book is packed with brightly coloured photographs which just make me even more enthusiastic to get started.

The second book I received was "The Art of Manipulating Fabric" by Colette Wolff. I have to say, this book left me slightly speechless. I never even imagined in my wildest dreams that fabric could be smocked, quilted, pleated, ruffled, not to mention tucked and stuffed, in so many ways! I may have tried simple smocking years ago whilst as school and I always admired my Aunt's smocked cushions as a child but that was as far as it went. Having stumbled across this book on Amazon, the front cover alone sold the book to me.

Every page offers clear diagrams and photographs alongside the text to guide you through sewing techniques I have never seen or heard of. I think the technique for my Aunt's cushions is shirring. They looked like the top photo on the front cover anyway as far as I can remember. Looking in the book there are so many different patterns you can achieve though. My only slight criticism of the book is that all of the photos are in black and white. Colour would have definitely made it a bit more appealing. Don't let that put you off though, this book is still an absolute gem.

For a quick link to Amazon for more information on either book, please scroll down the left hand side of the blog and use the link in the Amazon box.

Bookmark and Share

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Working 5 to 9

For years small business owners have been working hard in their spare time to create, promote and run their fledgling business. Most can't afford to take the risk of quitting their day jobs and so are left with no option but to work evenings and weekends. I'm certainly one of them.

I dreamt up From Rags to Bags four years ago (time certainly flies!) when I was off work following an operation and had nothing better to do. I suddenly realised I could turn a lifetime of collecting fabric and a love of sewing into a small business. Whilst the business has grown year on year, I am still not in a position to give up the day job.

Whilst I do get the odd morning or few hours off in the afternoon, most of my free time is in the evenings and weekends. Having said that, by the time I can cleaned the house, done the laundry, gone food shopping, done the garden (you get the picture) even most of the weekend is taken up with everyday living.

I try to sew for a couple of hours every evening. Often I come home, have a cup of tea and then hit the sewing machine. With a break to cook and eat dinner, I can be sewing through the evening. I do try to have a cut off at 9pm but sometimes it ends up 10pm or later.

There is so much more to running a small business though than just manufacturing the product. It is amazing how long it takes to photograph new stock, list it on the website and other websites such as Etsy and Folksy, as well as promoting the business on Facebook and Twitter. Then there is writing articles for the blog. Even packing orders and going to the post office takes time. I'm not complaining, don't get me wrong. Sometimes though, I spend so much time promoting, I don't actually have any time left to make the stock I am supposed to be promoting!

Running a small business is certainly a tough juggling act.

Support for the 5-9'er is growing though with articles appearing in magazines, books being written offering advice and websites offering support. One website well worth bookmarking is

I have a head full of ideas for new stock. I am constantly plotting new handbags as well as new items to stock. The list is truly endless and the fabric stash is ever growing. All I need is a few more hours in the day. But then who doesn't?

Bookmark and Share

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Woolie Winter Warmers

I was recently asked if I would be interested in making some hot water bottle covers. It is something that has been knocking around in my head for a while anyway, so I was more than happy to give it a go. In the past I have seen knitted hot water bottle covers and decided that was the route I would like to explore.

As I quite enjoy knitting, I could have found a pattern and knitted some covers. The whole ethos of From Rags To Bags though is recycling, so it made much more sense to use secondhand woolies. I ended up trawling through the jumper racks of six charity shops in my hunt for the perfect garment. It is amazing how many are acrylic or only part wool. I needed pure wool for the idea to work. I finally managed to find two jumpers that were labelled wool, two cashmere and one which was machine washable wool.

The first step was to felt them all, so I popped them all into the washing machine on a hot wash. It was really interesting to see the results when they all came out. The wool ones were perfect, one cashmere was felted but the other wasn't at all - go figure! The machine washable wool jumper did what it said, it machine washed and didn't felt at all. You live and learn.

The jumper I liked the best became my first experiment. It had shrunk really well, almost too well but the body was still just long enough to fit a full sized hot water bottle. I used my own hot water bottle as a pattern and cut the shape I was after. The high neck of the jumper became the perfect access point for filling the hot water bottle, with a ribbon to tie the top closed when in use. I cut the back of the hot water bottle cover in half and bound the edges with a complimentary fabric. This means the cover can be easily removed and washed as required.

I have to say, I am really pleased with the design. I love the pattern and colour of the jumper too. I am really tempted to keep this one! The next two covers with be slightly different, one will be the softest, pale pink cashmere and the other will be a navy with a flower pattern across it. I shall definitely be on the hunt for more woolies to use in the future as well.

Bookmark and Share

Monday, 11 October 2010

Slouchy Corduroy Handbag

Finally, I have managed to scrape together some time to make a new handbag. I have sold quite a few of late and was getting really low on stock - and still am! I have got a couple more new ones planned which will hopefully follow soon. I seem to spend all my sewing time making piles of lavender bags and door stops at the moment, not that I am complaining.

I have wanted to make my latest handbag for a while, ever since I found the corduroy at a car boot sale back in the summer. Before my scissors got the better of it, the corduroy was actually a really gorgeous, long, Italian pencil skirt. I loved the fabric as soon as I saw it and managed to buy the skirt for £1.00. The corduroy is a wonderful soft cotton with alternating thick and thin furrows. It makes the bag really tactile.

As I have put a zip in the top, I decided to give the bag a single strap secured at each side. For added interest, I have added a couple of metal rings into the sides of the strap. The rings are actually curtain rings I found in the local DIY store. They are absolutely perfect as they are very sturdy. The bag will give way before they do!

The fabric flower and the lining came from a man's shirt I picked up at a charity jumble sale recently. The fabric was the perfect colour for the corduroy and I love spotty fabric, so it was a definite winner. The centre of the flower has a wooden button that I think came from a cardigan I had years ago. Again, the colour of the wood was a perfect match.

I have to admit, I am pretty pleased with the bag overall. Hopefully it will find a new home very soon ....

Bookmark and Share

Thursday, 30 September 2010

Show and Tell 2010

I can't believe it is a year since I blogged about the last Alton Art Society exhibition, "Show and Tell". Where does time go? This year's exhibition kicked off last night with the private view and runs until Sunday.

Since joining the Art Society about 7 years ago, I have always exhibited ceramic pieces that I have made, usually selling two or three pieces. Last year, I decided to take a break from ceramics after many years, to pursue my love of textiles. Last year's entries into the exhibition were half ceramic and half felt. This year, I have entered four felt pieces, two handbags, a felt bowl and a set of felt oak leaves with acorns.

Despite having a whole year to prepare some pieces to enter, I left it somewhat to the last minute as usual. I sent off my entry form a month ago with only a vague idea on what I was actually going to enter. Well, one bag was made, one bag needed altering and the other two pieces were figments of my imagination!

A few weeks ago, I felted a dish from Shetland wool. I wanted to make a piece that gave a nod to my ceramics past and so designed a shallow dish in cream wool with some dark brown streaking to echo previous glazing techniques I have used, as well as Japanese raku. I have to say, I was really pleased with the result.

In the past I have also made ceramic leaves in various forms, so decided to felt some oak leaves. Last year, I entered a large felt sycamore leaf which sold, so I thought I would make something similar. Having made three felt oak leaves, I realised that they just didn't work on their own. They needed more to make sense.

The night before I had to drop my exhibition pieces off, I had a mad plan to felt a couple of acorns. Having thought about it, I realised that three loose leaves and a couple of acorns wouldn't really work either, so decided to try to wire the whole lot together into a more naturalistic form. Amazingly, the whole lot came together and worked really well, so well in fact that the piece sold at the private view last night!

Hopefully I will get some interest in the other three pieces before the exhibition ends. I will definitely make some more leaves, I have a couple of cunning plans knocking around in my head. I really must try to get them made in the next year though and not wait until the night before next year's exhibition to finish them.

Bookmark and Share

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Treasure Not Trash

Last weekend I had some garden waste and a few other items to take to the local dump, or the Household Waste Recovery Centre as it is now termed!

I have to admit, if you say dump it conjours up images of piles of rotting waste with sea gulls scavenging on it. In reality, our local dump is clean, tidy and very well managed. There are marked recycling skips for metal, wood, cardboard, garden waste (which is composted), household batteries, aluminium foil, mobile phones, car batteries, gas bottles, glass, textiles and even a charity bra bank! There is also a general skip for everything else but even that gets sifted through by the staff for anything worth saving.

To one side is the "shop" which is very popular. You can buy all sorts of salvaged items from books, DVDs and CDs to china, furniture, garden tools and bicycles. I have to admit, I do quite like a poke about when I am there to see what I can find. I've found jewellery which I have broken up for the beads, a brand new lampshade still in its wrapping and various other odds and ends which have found their way onto ebay.

Whenever I go anywhere, I have my fabric radar on full alert and last weekend was no exception. I spotted a corner of some very interesting fabric sticking out of a large bin full of old curtains in the dump shop, so started to pull it out for a quick look. I found that it was a curtain pelmet which, judging by the length, was for patio doors. There was no sign of the curtains to match, so someone had obviously beaten me to them. The pelmet was in really good condition with no fading, so I decided to buy it for the princely sum of £2.50. A bargain!

Once at home, I very quickly ripped off the header tape and lining and broke up the pelmet in fabric widths. Once it was flat, I found I had 5 sections measuring 120cm (46") wide and 40cm (16") long. Best of all, one piece had a name and date stamped on the selvedge. It was a 1989 Laura Ashley print. So even better than I thought. After a quick wash to freshen it up and iron, the fabric has already been put to good use on the latest edition to my door stops. It just goes to show that you can find useful treasure pretty much anywhere if you keep an your mind and eyes open.

Bookmark and Share

Friday, 3 September 2010

Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Zip?

To be completely honest, I hate sewing in zips, to the point that they have become my complete nemesis. When designing handbags, I find myself coming up with all sorts of cunning ways to avoid putting a zip in, even though I know most people prefer handbags with zips - even I do!

In the past I have left the tops of bags completely open, I've designed them with flaps held secure with a magnetic clasp, or I've just used a magnetic clasp at the top. Even internal pockets have just been the slip variety or had yet another magnetic clasp.

It's ridiculous really, I am completely happy sewing a zip into the bottom of my door stops so that they can be posted empty and filled by the purchaser, so why not handbags? In my teens when I made lots of my own clothes, I happily made skirts and trousers with zips in. Somehow over the years though, zips have just slipped off my skills list to the point where I can't quite figure out the best way to deal with them.

Last weekend though, I designed a fabulous new clutch bag, my "La Belle Epoque" clutch. It's black velvet with bead tassels and feathering and it was crying out for a zip along the top. There was really no other way to design it, so I had to bite the bullet. I decided to google sewing in zips and see what I could find and came up with two really great tutorials ....

It was actually the second one that I ended up following but I will certainly refer to the first one in the future too. In the end, putting the zip in was so easy, I don't know why I got in such a muddle in the first place! Zips definitely aren't a nightmare anymore.

Bookmark and Share

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Books and Bags

If you go down to the library today, you're in for a big surprise! Well, Alton library anyway.

Generally, libraries used to be musty smelling places full of dusty, well read books and librarians telling you to shh! Well, no more. If you go to a library now, you can not only borrow the latest best seller, you can also borrow CDs across the musical spectrum (Alton has got Bryan Adams to Metallica), DVDs of the latest films, computer games and surf the internet.

Alton library also goes a step further than that. They are selling local, handmade crafts. When I was in the library a week or so ago to borrow a book on felting, I noticed a large, glass display cabinet with handmade jewellery and turned wood items for sale. A quick chat with the manager revealed that they are happy to provide selling space free of charge to local craft folk and taking a 25% cut of any sales.

I left my card and got an email a few days ago offering me some space in the display cabinet. From Saturday, a selection of my handbags, handbag charms, door stops, lavender bags and peg bags will be available to the visitors of Alton library.

It is such a great idea. I get some free advertising and shelf space in the town and the library gets some much needed funds when they sell an item. The staff in the library were so friendly and enthusiastic about my products too which made me feel very welcome. Hopefully I will get some sales. They have offered me the space on a 3-4 month trial period and with the run up to Christmas around the corner, hopefully it will be successful.

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Funky Fabric

I seem to spend hours trawling the internet in search of fabric and textiles to use in my handbags and home wares. I much prefer to use vintage and secondhand textiles in my creations and particularly enjoy repurposing items.

Of late, I have been trying to buy vintage curtains as you get a lot of fabric for your money. Using clothing can limit what you are able to make as the pieces of fabric can be quite small. Curtains are great as you usually have a large expanse of flat fabric leading to endless possibilities. I have a huge pile of vintage velvet curtains in various colours but I have been trying to find some patterned fabrics to add to the pile.

I have a penchant for the funky fabrics of the 1950's to 1970's. I love the geometric designs, with the bold colours. Curtain fabrics are usually quite thick and with the strong designs, the fabrics are perfect for doorstops. I am constantly watching and bidding on curtains on eBay but they seem to go for more than I am willing to pay.

This morning I trotted off to the local car boot sale with my usual open mind, looking for anything that might be useful, fabric, buttons, beads, vintage handbags. I was quite taken aback to spot a pair of funky green and white curtains on one stall. My first thought was that they were modern from somewhere like Ikea. On closer inspection at the label though, I realised they were in fact genuine, 1970's curtains from Marks & Spencer.

The curtains are both 64 inches wide and 52 inches long, so a really good size. More importantly they are in fabulous condition with no marks or fading. Just think how many doorstops I could make out of them?!

The only problem is, they are so fabulous, I don't think I can bring myself to cut them up. I wouldn't hang them in my house but as a pair of vintage 1970's curtains, I love them. I think I am going to list them on eBay and see what happens. If they sell I can buy other vintage fabric with the proceeds. If nobody else buys them, then maybe they will get the chop after all.

Bookmark and Share

Friday, 30 July 2010

Madness At The Races

Yesterday, I went to a horse racing and concert event being held at Epsom Downs Racecourse, in Surrey. It was the part of the Epsom Live 2010 event which hosted a number of pop acts over the last week or so, playing concerts after an afternoon of horse racing, with Madness playing last night.

So why am I blogging about horse racing and pop concerts on a handbag blog?

Well, I like to have an annual flutter on the Grand National and decided to throw caution to the wind last night and place a bet on the final race of the day, the 8:40pm at Epsom. There were six horses running, so you would think the odds would be pretty good.

Not being a follower of horse racing and form, I always pick a horse based purely on its name. I don't study the form, the ground conditions, the trainer or the jockey. I just pick a name that has relevence to me. Trust me, I never win! Well, having said that, I did actually win on the Grand National this year with Don't Push It sprinting home at 24-1. Shame I only put £2.50 on it but I was more than pleased with my £60.00 win.

Last night, horse number 1 in the 8:40 race was called Pin Cushion. To me, that was a good omen. With my love of sewing, how could I possibly go wrong with a horse called Pin Cushion? Not only that, he was actually the favourite. I can't even remember the other horses names, apart from Starwatch, who I considered for a split second ....

The race began .... Pin Cushion got boxed in on the rail .... I did my Eliza Doolittle from "My Fair Lady" impression, urging Pin Cushion on .... who romped in 4th. Out of 6 runners. Needless to say, Starwatch won at 20-1 odds.

Pin Cushion! What a stupid name for a horse anyway!

Bookmark and Share

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Bead Bonanza

Anyone who uses lots of beads in craft projects will know just how expensive they are too buy. Glass beads can be ridiculously expensive and can really push up the cost of making items. Too keep costs down, I try to utilise second hand beads by breaking up jewellery.

This weekend I managed to accumulate quite a good stock of beads. Yesterday I bought two beaded hair ties and three bead necklaces in a wildlife charity shop. The whole lot cost just £3.50. All the beads are plastic but they are useful colours, shapes and sizes and I quite like the turquoise and white striped beads.

Today, I had another good haul at a car boot sale. I bought four bracelets and two necklaces. The bracelets are all glass beads, so I was really pleased with those. The white bead necklace is crystal, so really sparkly in the light and the black necklace is plastic but has a good tassel which I can see being used on an evening bag perhaps. All of the items were being sold to raise funds for a donkey sanctuary. The sellers only wanted £1.00 but that seemed far too cheap, so I gave them £2.00 instead.

All in all, I am really pleased with the beads and a couple of charities got some money. The jewellery will be broken up shortly and the beads will probably be used to make some new handbag charms.

Bookmark and Share

Saturday, 3 July 2010

July's Bag of The Month

A new month has arrived, which means I need to select a new "Bag of the Month" to put on promotion. July was a really busy month for sales, with quite a few of the handmade handbags being sold. I am now quite low on stock, so need to make some more as soon as possible.

I have decided to put one of my tie bags on offer for July. I think they are probably the favourite style out of all of the bags I make, with the Chocolate and Red Tie Bag being a real winner as far as I am concerned. I am still really tempted to keep it for myself though, so I don't know why I am putting it up as "Bag of the Month" to be honest!

Anyway, for July only, this handbag is on offer on the website at a reduced price of £18.00, down from £25.00.

Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, 30 June 2010

From Rag to Bags!

A couple of months ago, a friend of mine gave me a tablecloth that had been hand embroidered by her grandmother. It was in pretty bad shape with torn and frayed corners but lovely floral embroidery in the corners. She knew I used old table linens to make some of my items, so thought it might be of some use to me.

The cloth looked like it had been very well loved over the years, so it did seem a shame to throw it away. Also a lot of time had obviously been spent embroidering the cloth all those years ago, so I putting my thinking cap on and came up with a couple of solutions.

The first idea that sprang to mind was fairly obvious - lavender bags. As the embroidered area was quite large, the two lavender bags I made were larger than usual but that didn't really matter much. My friend was delighted with the lavender bag I gave to her and I kept the other.

Thankfully I didn't rush into making four lavender bags. I got waylaid by other projects and by the time I got back to the remainder of the cloth, I had had another idea. This time I made a peg bag for my friend with the rest of the cloth, which worked equally well. My friend was delighted and the cloth has been successfully repurposed into some useful items once again.

Bookmark and Share

Friday, 18 June 2010

June's Bag of The Month!

I have decided to introduce "Bag of the Month" on my website, putting a different handbag in the spotlight each month, at a reduced price. I realise that whilst people may really like a particular handbag, they don't always have the budget to be able to buy it. Hopefully, with "Bag of the Month", different handbags may become more affordable for a few weeks at a time.

For June, I have decided to put the Black Brocade Evening Bag in the spotlight. It is a fun, over the top, evening bag made from a black brocade dress with an oversized chiffon bow and a vintage, diamonte pendant pinned to middle. A single strap handle runs from side to side and the central pleat front and back makes the handbag very roomy inside.

The interior of the handbag is lined with a multi coloured, sateen, check fabric. A silver magnetic clasp holds the top of the handbag securely closed. The handbag measures approximately 20cm long, 32cm along the bottom edge, 22cm along the top edge and 9cm deep at the base.

Bookmark and Share

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Sunshine & Sewing

In the depths of winter, when it is freezing cold and pouring with rain, I am quite happy tucked up in my study at the top of the house. I can while away countless hours sewing, writing and generally plotting From Rags To Bags world domination. When the thermometer rockets and the sun shines though, I don't really want to be sat at my desk looking at a wall.

This weekend has been glorious, especially for the time of year. I decided to up sticks and move camp to the kitchen table. Having thrown open the patio doors, I am now sat looking out over the garden, listening to the birds chirping and enjoying the slight breeze flowing in over my toes.


Trouble is, it is so relaxing I actually can't be bothered to do very much now.

Bookmark and Share

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Button It!

As it was a glorious sunny Sunday morning today, I couldn't resist popping out to my local car boot sale. It has just reopened after the winter and with such good weather, it was pretty packed with sellers and buyers. I'm never one to roll out of bed early on a weekend, particularly a Sunday, so I didn't actually get there until about 10.45am and it opens at 7.30am!

I can never decide with car boot sales if you should get there first thing to snap up antique and collectible gems or wait until the end when people are so fed up they sell everything off at rock bottom prices. As I hit the ground running midway through, I didn't really have very high hopes.

About half way around the stalls, I spotted a pile of fabric remnants which looked interesting. I bought a couple of useful pieces for making door stops, which were only 10 pence each, so I was quite chuffed. A bit further on though I thought I was hallucinating when I spotted a biscuit tin full to the brim with buttons. Not to put too fine a point on it, I love, love, love buttons, particularly vintage ones.

After a quick stir of the buttons with my finger, I asked the seller the price. She hesitated for a moment and the said £5 the lot. I couldn't pay her quick enough! I didn't even bother to haggle over the price. It was only when the seller popped the lid on I realised that even the biscuit tin was a vintage treasure too. It looks to be about 1950's or 1960's. It needs a bit of a clean but other than that is in good, collectible condition.

Having got home, I spent a happy half hour with a cup of tea sifting through all the buttons picking out the ones I want. The reject pile was probably two thirds of the tin, which I will sell on eBay, as well as the tin. I reckon the tin and buttons will sell for at least £5, making my button pile free with a bit of luck!

There are some fabulous buttons in my keep pile, lots of them are old, dating back to the 1930's or 1940's. I am always drawn to interesting shapes, sizes and colours. Anything that looks interesting really. I use buttons on all sorts of projects from lavender bags to handbags. I often change the buttons on my clothes too if I don't like the buttons they are sold with. I've certainly got lots of lovely buttons to choose from now anyway!

Bookmark and Share

Friday, 2 April 2010

Custom Made iPad Stand

I had an interesting question a week or so ago from a chap in the USA. He was looking for a stand for his new Apple iPad to use when he was watching films. He had found me on Etsy and was interested to know if I could custom make him a stand, based on my door stops.

My first response was"Yes!". Then I had to google iPad as I didn't actually have a clue what they looked like! Having found them, I noticed that the iPad's do come with their own case which can be folded so that the iPad is stood on its side for viewing films. I contacted the man in the USA to check if he knew this or not, as it seemd fair. As it turned out he had seen them but wanted a simple bean bag design which could be used anywhere.

Having already said that I could make a stand, I then had to think about the best way forward. As I was basing the stand on my existing door stop designs, I felt the easiest option was to sew a strip of elastic along the bottom to form a lip which would stop the iPad slipping downwards. When I looked at my door stops, I realised that if I orientated the seams into the correct position, the zipper which is usually underneath would end up on the side. At first I thought that would be unacceptable as you wouldn't want the zipper on show. Then I realised that if it was underneath, you would run the risk of scratching surfaces with it - not the best idea if you placed the stand on your polished dining room table!

I didn't think the zipper should be on the side either though, so I relocated it to the back seam of the stand instead. I chose a wide strip of black elastic and a navy furnishing fabric to make the stand in. The furnishing fabric would be durable for constant use and the dark colours would hide grubby fingermarks. The overall size of the door stop design had to be increased to accomodate the iPad but otherwise it was quite straightforward.

The finished product really seems to do the trick. I don't have an iPad, so I had to experiment with a book which was about the same size. As you can see from the photos, the stand holds the book at a good angle, as well as quite securely at the base. The chap in the USA was happy with the photos, so the stand is somewhere mid Atlantic as we speak. Hopefully I will get some positive feedback shortly.

Bookmark and Share

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Purple Felt Shoulder Bag

Last weekend I finally got around to making another felt handbag. I have been saying I will make a new one since before Christmas but never seem to have enough time.

Wet felting is nothing like sewing a handbag, where you can pick it up and put it down to finish later. With felting, once you start you really have to carry on until the job is done. The whole process is quite labour intensive and I know I have to set aside the best part of a day to make a handbag. That allows me time to stop and start for cups of tea and general time wasting, which I am pretty good at!

I already had a template for the handbag, as I had one made from a previous felt bag I have already sold. Having taken a look in my wool basket, I was really drawn to the purple shades this time, so selected complimentary Merino wool tops. I also used some blue Shetland for the bottom of the bag. As it is a coarser wool fibre, it is more durable than the soft Merino wool.

Having laid out the first layer of fibre, I thought it was probably a good idea to start taking photos, not just for the blog but also for my own sake. Having made up four layers on one side of the bag, I would have completely forgotten what I had done by the time I got to the other side! It's not a problem when working with one or two colours of wool but when you are using a whole range, there is no way I would be able to get both sides looking similar.

I have to admit, I do quite like making felt handbags with lots of wool shades. I have absolutely no idea how the end product will look until it is pretty well finished. After hours spent laying out fibres, applying soapy water and then vigorously rubbing and rolling, the final reveal is really exciting. As the handbags are made inside out, turning the bag the right way out is pretty much the last stage. By then, if you don't like the look of the handbag, it really is tough!

This time I decided to try and incorporate a piece of silk scarf I had lying around. It was the right shade of purple, so I cut out a square and laid it centrally on one side under the first layer of fibres. I was fairly confident it would felt onto the handbag, as I have felted linings into previous handbags. I just hoped it would stay fairly central. Luckily, it stayed just about in the right place.

I decided to sew in a cotton lining this time too. This gave me the option to include a pocket on the inside of the bag and the cotton lining also gives another element of durability to the whole bag. I think it makes the handbag look a bit more finished too. Overall, I am pretty pleased with how the bag has turned out. Good job too, as it probably took me about 5 hours to make!

Bookmark and Share