Because I *Really* Needed a New Bag
I felted the sweater by running it through the washer and dryer with some regular laundry, twice. I was initially disappointed at how much it shrunk up, but in the end it didn't really matter.
I wanted to cut each side 15" by 15". After you put the gusset in, that will make a standard tote bag size of 12 high by 11 wide, with about a 4" gusset. The problem was, that the sweater was way too narrow after felting, so I had to include those shoulder seams (see the curved seams in the photo above) in my side pieces, but I put those seams at the bottom and, becuase they are hidden in the bottom gusset, they don't show.
Here's a picture of the sleeve, cut apart. I loved the stripe and wanted to include it, so I used it for a pocket on the outside of the bag. (For the record, the bottom stripe that looks purple, is really a royal blue.)
My diary wouldn't be complete without showing a photo of my assistant, who had fun stealing the parts and dressing up with them any way she could!
I decided to underline the sweater with canvas, to help stablize the stretchiness of the sweater while sewing it, and to eliminate the slouch that you usually have with felted bags. I'm not usually a big fan of sloppy felted bags. The canvas, as well as the sturdy cotton lining help this bag keep its shape.
For the pocket, I cut a cotton lining square the same size as the pocket, placed them right sides together and stitched most of the way around, pulled them right sides out, and hand sewed the opening, just like making a pillow. Then I double topstitched it to the outside.
The handles were the hardest part. I tried to to sew them by machine using a size 100 needle and the zipper foot, but the tension got messed up and they looked like a wreck on the inside. So I ended up sewing them by hand, using 4 strands of brown thread that matched the color of the stitching already on the handles. And some places I double sewed them, to make sure. It involved cursing, but it was worth it!
In spite of some difficulty, it was overall a fun project. I liked the bag when it was finished, but after carrying it around for a few days, it's growing on me even more and I'm starting to feel love. Now I'm on the hunt for a black sweater.....