Make an Easy No-Knit Felted Pursecomments (2) June 13th, 2008
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)
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)
Spray bottle full of water
A leg from a pair of pantyhose
Step 1: Wrap a craft-foam block with plastic wrap.
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.
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!
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.
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.
Step 9: Once the purse has been rolled, place the pantyhose leg over it, and tie a loose knot at the end.
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.
After you make this project, show off your work to other members!
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