Friday, July 9, 2010

Felt Purse Tutorial

Here it is! The adorable felt purse tutorial. You may or may not recall that I made the first one for our airplane trip. I loved it so much that I made a second (tiny) one. The second one was a lot harder because I was not deliriously throwing an ill advised craft together at the very last (panic filled, sleep deprived) second.

I actually took my time and tried really hard to care about things like straight seams and even edges. Whatever. It's felt. Felt is very forgiving. If you screw up, you can either snip off bits until it's fixed or throw it out and start over because crafting felt is so dang cheap.

I decided to create the tutorial because 1) I'm thrilled that I made this up out of my own (panic filled, sleep deprived) head and 2) I'm excited that it was so easy.

So here's what you need:

- felt pieces (29¢ at JoAnn) - get lots of pieces in lots of colors because it's hard to stop making felt things once you start
- disappearing fabric pens
- maybe ribbon for trim and/or something cute to sew on the front (applique or flower or buttons...)
- embroidery thread in a complementary color (get lots)
- I am in love with my rotary cutters and cutting mat. it saves a lot of time measuring and marking b/c you can just follow the lines on the mat...

Decide what size you want to make your bag. In theory, the front and back pieces could be as large as an entire rectangle of felt. For my first bag, I was using a color that I loved, but had a limited amount of, so that determined my bag size. For the second bag, I wanted it to be tiny and adorable, so I made each panel 1/4 of a felt rectangle.

Pick colors. I used different colors for the front and back panels on the first bag, used three colors for the sides/strap (supply issues), and lined it in white. I used matching panels for the second bag, used two colors for the sides/strap, and lined it in white. I like the fact that they look really homemade and whonky, and I feel like the white lining adds to that. By the way, you DO need to line the bag, or it will be too flimsy, and will probably not survive it's first week of use.

Whatever size you decide on for your bag, cut 4 pieces that size - 2 in the colors of your front and back panels, and 2 in the color of your lining.

Using the fabric pens, mark off a curve on one corner - this will be the bottom of the bag. Then fold that piece in half and use the line as your guide to trim both corners (so that they will match) like so:

Here's where the cutting tool and mat come in for the first time - if you have them, you can stack the felt and cut it flat. If not, use your original piece as a guide for trimming the other pieces one at a time:

If you are using ribbon as trim across the top or decoration on either or both panels, affix them now. I hand stitched the bird to the purple piece only then sewed one straight line through the ribbon, purple and white pieces:

Now you need to decide how deep you want the bag to be - this will also be the width of your strap. You will need pieces that are as wide as you want the bag to be deep. You will need enough of these pieces to go around 3 sides of your panel and still be long enough for the strap... see photos of finished bags for clarification...

For the tiny bag, I chose to make the sides/strap 1/4 of the width of a felt rectangle... so I cut a piece of felt into 4 equal strips down it's length.

Through the highly scientific process of 'eyeballing it', I decided that the length of 4 strips was perfect to go around my panels and still have a nice strap. SO, cut your strips for the outside, and cut strips of matching length and width for the lining.

Sew the strips into a loop with all of the seams facing the same direction:

See how I am cleverly showing you in a manner that is much more clear than all of the explaining I just did! Do the same sewing for the lining pieces.

*Note: the strips do NOT have to be the same length, just the same width! You could have 2 pieces, 4 pieces, 9 pieces, etc. as long as they all the same width and they equal the length that you have determined is perfect.

Iron the seams open on for both loops - TRUE STORY: if you turn the iron up too high, you will melt felt onto your iron, and then you will have to get even MORE creative as you attempt to remove the stuck-on felt bits before your husband accidentally irons red and purple felt onto one of his dress shirts... I'm just saying...

Slide the lining loop into the outer loop with the seams for both loops facing inward. I also offset the seams so that I would not have to sew through a bazillion layers at once:

Here's the only 'tricky' part. I pinned the middle of the bottom of the front panel to what I arbitrarily decided was the middle of the sides/strap piece. You will be pinning through 4 layers of felt:

This is the only part that I pin. The rest can be aligned as you sew. In fact, it is better not to pin for the rest of this project as 4 layers of felt means that you need to give it room to shift as you go along.

Starting in the middle (where you began pinning), sew the edges together. I used a 1/4 inch seam so that I could use the edge of my presser foot as my guide. You will need to go very slowly as you take the corner. Hold the layers together very tightly - moving your grip as you keep the edges together:

I sewed from the middle to the top of the panel (where the ribbon is), then from the middle again all the way around the other side then over the strap - finishing at the ribbon. You could choose NOT to sew around the strap at this time as we will be finishing all of the raw edges with a blanket stitch, but my blanket stitch is not that great, and I needed the machine line as a visual guide to keep it looking nice.

*Note: I used a contrasting color for my thread for the entire project (aqua). I did this for three reasons 1) I am lazy, and did not want to refill my bobbin, 2) the blanket stitch that I used to finish the bag hides most of the machine stitch, so it doesn't really matter and 3) I really like the amateur/homemade look of the whole thing.

Pin the back panel on, and repeat the sewing on that side:

Ya'll the bag is done! All that's left is a finishing embroidery stitch around the edges! Told you it was easy ;-)

So, you can find an awesome blanket stitch tutorial HERE (thanks AGAIN to Samster Mommy who showed it to me). I used this stitch aaaaaall the way around the larger purse and around the little purse except for the edge that has ribbon. Here is a close up of my blanket stitching:

Notice how I used my machine stitched line as my guide? :-)

Here are the finished bags:

with their straps twisted to show their colors:

and from the back - just because:

and of course - one with Lily Ruth :-) as she attempts to rid herself of the purse...


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