Upcycled Sweater Bags

I recently came across my stash of felted wool sweaters that I’ve collected from my Goodwill excursions and didn’t realize how many I had!

Two garbage bags full that were just waiting to be put to a better use.

“What is felted wool?,” you ask?

Felted wool is wool that has been washed at a high heat with regular laundry detergent and a tennis ball for friction that makes the fibers shrink and become very tight. You can then use that wool for various upcycled projects like mittens, blankets, Christmas stockings, scarves. So many possibilities: if you are on Pinterest, just do a search and let the ideas and projects overwhelm you.

I thought it might be cute to make a little drawstring bag and after many (and I mean MANY) failed attempts, I came up with this…

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You will need:

Some felted sweaters

Fabric for the lining (I like cotton)

Ribbon for straps (I used twill tape)

Sewing machine, sewing notions, etc.

Your imagination and creativity

For Outside of Bag:

2 Pieces of felted sweater measuring 8 1/2 inches wide x 8 inches long. (Main Part of Bag)

1 Piece of felted sweater measuring 8 1/2 inches wide x 4 1/2 inches long. (Bottom of Bag)

For the Lining:

1 Piece of fabric measuring 8 1/2 inches wide x 19 1/2 inches long.

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Of note, if you want to put any embroidery, appliques, lace, trim, etc.-do it now before you start construction of the bag.

I choose a nautical theme for this one so I went to my files and embroidered an anchor originally found on Urban Threads.

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Placing right sides together, sew together one of the larger pieces with the smaller piece. For entire project, I use a 1/4 inch seam.

*** Iron your seems flat. Don’t skip this, it will help you in the long run. I know it’s weird to iron wool, (it might smell a little, too) but trust me…When you align your seams and try to fit the layers under your sewing machine’s presser foot, you’ll thank me. (Just try not to burn anything.)

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And then do the same with the back piece so you then have what looks like this:

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Fold this piece in half right sides facing, match up your seams and pin into place.

With the pinning in place, make a mark 1 inch down and again at 1 1/2 inches down on each side. ***This will mark an opening where your ribbon channel will be.***

For Tutorial purposes, (and because I couldn’t see my marks on my dark sweater…) I used pins…

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See those horizontal pins? That’s what I’m talking about!

Start at the top right corner and sew till your 1 inch mark. Backstitch for strength.

Skip the area between the horizontal pins and start again at the 1 1/2 inch point. Continue sewing the rest of that side. Backstitch for strength.

Follow the same directions for the opposite side, not forgetting to stop and start up again at the 1 1/2 and 1 inch marks.

Try your best to iron those seams open, but don’t stretch out your sweater because then it wont fit with the lining.  (I learned that the hard way.)

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Turn your bag right-side out and admire your work.

Now for the lining:

Fold your lining piece in half right sides together length-wise and sew together both sides leaving a 2 1/2 to 3 inch gap on one side. (this is where you will turn bag right-side out). Press open your seams. Clip the corners.

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Now it’s time to assemble lining and outside of bag. This is the part that makes me sweat. Handkerchief, please…

Place the outside bag into the lining, right sides facing. Line up your seams and edges…this is where the pressing of seams helps tremendously.

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See how the Outside of bag goes into Lining, right sides facing?

Pin and sew around the top, making sure you sew your seams flat along the way.

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Now for the magical part- pull the outside part out of the hole you left in your lining and poke out your corners with chopsticks or a pencil eraser or chicken bones. (Just kidding on that last one.)

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This kind of reminds me of the birthing process…anyone else feel that way?

Now you will have something that miraculously looks like this:

Never mind, I forgot to take a picture of this step, my bad.

Do not fear! What you have next are the two pieces, lining and outer bag, ready to fit together!

Press your lining piece and topstitch the seam that was left open. Just for posterity, I topstitch the other side too, so they match.

Place the lining into the bag!!! Very exciting feeling when this works!

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Press the opening seams so it looks nice and neat and crisp.

We are Almost Done!

Take a look at the sides of your bag…you should see an opening on each side where the ribbon will go through. We need to finish up by making that channel.

Mark on both sides where those opening are and sew a straight line across it all the way around.

Do the same for the bottom hole.

In my picture below, I used tape to guide me, since I am famous for sewing a crooked line.

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Using a safety pin, attach the pin to the end of your ribbon and push it through all the way around. When you have the ribbon at the length you want the handles to be, cut it and tie the two ends together.

Repeat this process on the other side so you now have two handles.

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And the end result is a very cute drawstring bag! I like to use mine for my Kindle but it could surely be used as a small purse.

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I have since made several and I’m going to list them soon in my etsy shop.

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This one is made from cashmere and lace!

 

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This one reminds us to “Live Simply”

 

I hope this inspires you to think outside the box and upcycle some sweaters!

Peace,

Kathy

Linking up this week to:

new nostalgia

A Bowl Full of Lemons

Coastal Charm

Homework

Chic on A Shoestring Budget

The Shabby Nest

Rooted in Thyme

The Dedicated House

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