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!