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How to make a felt handbag Lisa Slinn

A full-colour, step by step, photographic guide to making a contemporary felt bag 1


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How to make a felt handbag Lisa Slinn

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Copyright © 2009 Lisa Slinn All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of How2crafts and Morse-Brown Publishing. Published by Morse-Brown Publishing Series Editor: John Morse-Brown Photography © Morse-Brown Design Limited Design & Production: Morse-Brown Design Limited. www.morsebrowndesign.co.uk For more titles in this series, see www.how2crafts.com ISBN: 0-9550241-5-3 Notice of Liability. The information in this book is distributed on an “as is” basis, without warranty. While every precaution has been taken in the preparation of this book, the author Lisa Slinn, How2crafts, Morse-Brown Publishing, their employees or associates shall not have any liability to any person or entity with respect to liability, loss, or damage caused or alleged to be caused directly or indirectly by the instructions contained in this book or by the products described herein.

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This is more than just a book... This is the start of a conversation about making felt. Buy buying this book, you’ve joined that conversation, and we’d love to hear from you... In this book you’ll find photographic step-bystep instructions that will enable you to make a stunning felt handbag. But unlike most craft books you buy, it doesn’t stop there. Once you’ve had a go at making a bag yourself, you can upload and share photos of your creation, and any comments and ideas, onto our website at  how2crafts.com. Then, once we’ve come to the end of the print run for this book, we’ll select the best photos and comments and include them in the new edition of the book as a ‘reader’s appendix’ – a source of inspiration and alternative designs for future readers.

As we’ve said on the how2crafts website, we believe crafts are all about conversation – the passing of skills and techniques from person to person down the ages. And we’d like our books to be part of that conversation. So it’s only right that our books should change as the conversation progresses. To join in the conversation visit  www.how2crafts.com Talk to us at  twitter.com/how2crafts

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Welcome to felt This book is designed for the fledgling felt maker. It shows the rudimentary traditional steps to hand-felting. Using lightweight Merino Wool Tops for colourful designs, felt can easily be made on a sturdy tabletop and the equipment needed is simple and easy to obtain. We will be making a piece of flat felt in this book. Felt can also be made into 3D objects using a ‘resist’ and this method may be explored in a later publication. Felt making is a craft that has been around in various cultures for over 7,000 years. Caps of thick, solid felt from the Early Bronze Age are preserved in the National Museum of Copenhagen. As a process, hand-felting mats wool fibres together by using, moisture, soap and hand rolling.

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To make this bag, you will need to buy fine Merino wool tops. I have explained each of these terms below: Merino sheep are regarded as having the finest and softest wool of any sheep. Merino wool can also be dyed in fabulous colours and this also makes it ideal for bag and clothing designs. The wool in its raw state originates from Australian sheep. Fine wool is wool of a low micron count (where the micron is the international unit of wool measurement). Merino wool tops is wool that has been washed, carded, combed and formed into a soft rope called a sliver. For this project I have used Merino 64s (between 21 and 23 microns). I bought the Merino wool for this book from www.winghamwoolwork.co.uk. You may also want to buy a ‘shade set’ (a small sample of each shade) to help you choose suitable colours. There are many wool suppliers worldwide – just make sure they supply Merino wool to the specifications listed above and in the colours you need.


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Getting started To make a piece of flat felt you will need the following: • A  piece of 1cm (½ inch) diameter wooden dowelling about 1m (40 inches) long from any large DIY store or home improvement centre. • A  piece of net curtain at least 90cm (35½ inches) square (from curtain stores, charity or thrift shops). • A  piece of bubble wrap 1m (40 inches) square from any large DIY store or home improvement centre. • A  plastic bottle (eg a 1 litre plastic milk bottle). With a needle, make some holes in the lid of this bottle so that you can evenly sprinkle water over your dry wool. • W  arm soapy water. 4

• Merino wool. I have used approximately 100g of purple, 100g of deep pink, 50g of yellow and 50g of black Merino. The wool is usually sold in packs of either 50 or 100g. • A work table. Making felt is a very energetic job so it will need to be a sturdy table. • A piece of paper 44cm x 85cm (17½ x 33½ inches). I have used parcel paper. • Scissors, craft knife, pencil and ruler. • A large towel. • A white plastic carrier bag. • A butter knife or flat ruler. • Tailor’s chalk or ordinary white chalk. • Needle and pink thread. • A simple sewing machine is advisable, but don’t worry if you don’t have one – you can finish the bag by hand.


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Making the template For the size of bag we are making it is a good idea to make a template (Fig 1). Take your brown parcel paper and cut a piece 44 x 85cm (17½ x 33½ inches). Place it flat on your work table. Now lay the bubble wrap on top of the template, bubble side up (Fig 2). You should be able to see the template clearly underneath. Then lay the net on top of the bubble wrap in such a way so that half of it can be folded over on top of the template later on (see drawing on right). Your wool will shrink in size by about a third throughout the felting process which is why your template is one third bigger in size than your finished piece.

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Bubble wrap Net curtain

Paper template


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How to make a felt handbag  

A full-colour, step by step, photographic guide to making a contemporary felt bag.