How to Make a Machine-Embroidered Felted Wool Tote

comments (10) September 7th, 2012     

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JenniferStern Jennifer Stern, contributor
Love it! 39 users recommend
Here is my felted wool tote.
Felted wool is so beautiful, the embroidered detail is just icing on the cake!
Isnt it amazing how tiny a big cardigan can get?
Here is my felted wool tote.

Here is my felted wool tote.

Photo: Jen Stern
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In the back of my mind, I've been meaning to try felting wool sweaters-shrinking one of my favorite cardigans in the wash was just the push I needed to give it a try! I was devastated when I realized that I had mistakenly thrown my merino wool cardigan (with a cute velvet tie) into the washing machine. It came out two sizes too small for me, so I decided to wash it again on HOT with another favorite that sprung a hole. Now my cardigan was a miniature replica of the original (sooo cute). The other sweater that I had washed was a brown lambswool needed another HOT cycle so it could felt some more. I ended up with some beautiful black and brown felted wool to use to construct my hobo bag. I designed a roomy tote that I could throw all my stuff into when I feel the need to be a Girl Scout...complete with a zippered pocket in the lining. If you would like my hobo bag pattern (with complete instructions) visit You can also use your favorite bag pattern.

How to Embroider on Felted Wool
Embroidering on felted wool is like embroidering on a towel. It has a nap, so you need a wash-away topper. I like Super Solvy from Sulky. (You can download free instructions on how to use this wonderful stabilizer.) Depending on the thickness of your felted wool, you might be able to get away with a tear-away stabilizer on the back. I love Stitch n' Wash stabilizer for projects like this. It provides firm support that tears away from the edge of the embroidery really easily. You don't have to worry about picking at little pieces that are left behind because it has a crispness that allows it to tear smoothly away. The stabilizer under the bobbin thread stays put to keep the design looking great wash after wash!

After you cut out your bag pieces, use chalk to draw guide lines on the pieces that you want to embroider. I am going to stitch a border design across the front of my bag. Mark the center of the pattern piece, then draw another line where you want to position your border or individual design.

Draw guide lines with chalk   When you're cutting out your pieces, think about incorporating the ribbing detail into your tote or bag.

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Comments (10)

bjatkinson writes: I was recently gifted an embroidery machine and came across this tutorial(which i love!) i was just wondering if you could clarify something for me before i attempt something similar...did you put the tear away stabilizer in the hoop then secure the felted wool with the adhesive then layer the soluble stabilizer or did you clamp all 3 in the hoop?
TIA for any tips, J
Posted: 3:08 pm on April 8th
MysteryPoodle writes: Jennifer, I just did a Google search, looking for recommendations for stabilizing for machine embroidery on felted/fulled sweaters and found your marvelous tutorial. I *so* appreciate not having to experiment to find something that works. Thank you!!!
Posted: 6:49 pm on March 28th
samsstuff writes: Cute bag & it looks fairly simple to make! I'll have to try it out.
Posted: 11:15 pm on February 11th
gracie_girl writes: Just lovely. The bag really has an understated elegance [not easy with felt]...The embroidery makes it. Good job!
Posted: 1:31 am on January 31st
JenniferStern writes: Hey guys, thanks for the positive comments. This bag is really easy to make...has anyone given it a try, I'd love to see some pics!!
Posted: 6:54 am on January 27th
Ravyn writes: looks very easy to make. thank you for sharing and a job well done too.
Posted: 12:06 am on January 23rd
billyjane writes: looks great and so perfectly done!great idea!
Posted: 3:24 pm on January 3rd
gracielynn writes: just great ! I'll have to give this a try..
Posted: 12:23 pm on December 27th
JenniferStern writes: Thanks Toffy...if you get a chance to try it out, I'd love to see what you come up with! Happy Sewing
Posted: 9:13 pm on December 7th
Toffy writes: Great pics of the welting for the zippered pocket.Well done project, and a good way to use old sweaters.
Posted: 9:28 am on December 6th
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