Make an Easy No-Knit Felted Purse

comments (2) June 13th, 2008     

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Tina_Hilton Tina Hilton, contributor
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This sweet little purse could be used as an evening bag or as a cool makeup kit.
This is what wool roving looks like. It comes in a wide range of
colors and can usually be found in any craft-supply store or yarn
Be sure to always use your handy little needle-felting tool in a
straight up and down motion: using it at an angle can cause the needle to
This sweet little purse could be used as an evening bag or as a cool makeup kit.

This sweet little purse could be used as an evening bag or as a cool makeup kit.

Photo: Tina Hilton
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There are a few ways to create a trendy felted purse. First, you could take the time to knit a very large, purse-like shape from 100-percent wool yarn and repeatedly shrink felt it in a hot agitating bath in your washing machine until you achieve the size you were aiming for. Second, you could repurpose a commercially knitted 100-percent wool sweater, felt it by washing in hot water and hot dryer, cut it to the desired shape and sew it into a purse. Finally you could try the quickest and most fun method I have found so far. Using wool roving as your medium, fashion a spectacular purse with a dry needle-felt method, shaping it onto a craft-foam rectangle. You complete the felting process with a sprayer full of water, a short ride in the dryer, and a boiling-hot rinse—voilá!—a custom designed purse worthy of a night on the town!

What you’ll need:
Craft-foam block (for the purse form)
Plastic wrap  (the old school smooth Saran Wrap not the sticky Glad Press 'n' Seal—this will stick to your roving)
Water-soluble embroidery stabilizer  (available at most sewing machine and craft stores)
Straight pins with a prominent head (ball head or T-pins)
Wool roving
Needle-felting tools (Clover Needle Felting Tool with heavy-gauge needles worked well on the flat areas. I recommend an individual medium-size felting needle for the edges and curves. You could use an individual needle for the entire process, but it may take slightly longer to complete)
Hand towel
Spray bottle full of water
A leg from a pair of pantyhose

This is what wool roving looks like. It comes in a wide range of colors and can usually be found in any crafting supply store or yarn shop.


Be sure to always use your handy little needle-felting tool in a straight up and down motion: Using it at an angle can cause the needle to break.

To Make:

Step 1: Wrap a craft-foam block with plastic wrap.

Wrap the craft-foam block completely vertically and then horizontally with plastic wrap so there is no exposed foam at all. This will ensure that the wool roving will not stick to the raw foam.

Step 2: Cover the wrapped block with the water-soluble embroidery stabilizer. First, wrap it vertically from the top, down the front, around the bottom, and up the back.

Do not cover the top with stabilizer since you need a purse opening and a way to remove the foam block after you've punched down the roving.

If the stabilizer doesn’t cover the sides of the block, cut a long narrow strip for each side panel, and then fold the sides of the long sheet as if you are wrapping a present in a box. Pin the stabilizer in place securely with a few pins. The stabilizer acts as the foundation for the roving to adhere to when you begin punching and poking the roving with the needles.

Step 3: Prepare the roving by separating it into a thin sheet to apply as the foundation layer for the bag. Wrap the first layer in one direction and the next layer in the opposite direction, covering the stabilizer and making sure you don’t have any bald spots. It’s up to you how many layers you use. Two to 4 thin layers of different colors or one substantial layer will work well.

Step 4: Once you have your foundation in place; begin punching the wool into the stabilizer to create your purse. Be sure to avoid the pins!

Warning: The needles are very sharp: they will hurt on insertion into your finger and cause scary bleeding. Keep your eye on the needle at all times and proceed with caution!

Once you have minimally secured the roving begin layering your design. I recommend you punch it in on the front, sides, and then back. Design in place; give it another punching all around to secure the roving uniformly.

Tip: The goal is to secure the roving into the stabilizer not the foam, so lighten up on the punching! You can break your needles and ruin all the fun.

Step 5: Remove all of the pins that secure the purse to the foam. Very gently remove the purse from the foam block. It will have adhered to the block, so you will need to carefully slip your hand between the paper and the plastic-covered block to release the fibers that were punched into the foam. Once all the fibers have been released, fold and squeeze the foam lengthwise, and slip the purse off the block.

Step 6: Fold a hand towel to the shape and size of the purse, and slip it inside to retain the purse's shape.

After you have folded up a hand towel iinto the same shape as your purse, insert the folded towel inside the top opening like this.

Step 7: Lay out a long piece of plastic wrap, and place your purse in the middle. Begin the felting process by thoroughly wetting the purse with the spray bottle full of water. Use lots of water: fully saturate both sides. The water-soluble stabilizer will look transparent at this point.

Step 8: Now put another long piece of plastic wrap over the top of the soaked purse. Press down, smoothing out the air and evenly distributing the water. Start at one end and carefully roll the piece like a jelly roll.

As you roll the water out of your purse, water will squirt out of the sides, so make sure you are in a water-friendly location.

Step 9: Once the purse has been rolled, place the pantyhose leg over it, and tie a loose knot at the end.

This is what your rolled purse with pantyhose covering will look like.


Step 10: Throw it in the dryer for 10 minutes. Check the progress of the felting by taking off the hose and unrolling the purse slightly for a peek. If you are satisfied with the way the fibers are felting, the project is finished. If the fibers are not melded enough, try another 5 to 6 minutes, and check again.

Step 11: When you are satisfied, unwrap it, and lay it flat in the sink. Pour boiling water over it to completely dissolve the stabilizer. I used a stock pot full of water (6 to 8 cups). Let it cool a bit, press out the water. Then put it in a towel, and press out some more.

Step 12: Place the purse back on the foam block to dry in shape. It could take a day or two to dry thoroughly.

I love this project because it’s fun, fast, and you can get out all of your aggressions with the repeated needle punching. It’s really fun project to do with friends, so plan an EZ No Knit Purse party soon! I'll post pictures of the bags we all made at the party I hosted.

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posted in: wool roving, felted bag, needle felting tool

Comments (2)

MrsG2003 writes: This is a great way to make a felted purse!! I have been trying different methods over the last 6 months and this technique gave me the best results.

So far I have made three purses using this method. You can see my work on - under appalpacaas

Posted: 10:31 pm on November 17th
JCockrum writes: Tina,
This is great thanks for the step-by-step. I'm going to try this this winter.

Have you ever knit an item then attached the roving to a finished piece (before felting the entire bag? I'm trying to come up with an item (bag) that I knit then attach a variety of colors maybe wrapped around one side and around the back ... just to kick my work up a notch.

Judy (check out my felted items.)
Posted: 1:41 pm on September 30th
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