A SWEATER HANDBAG

I recently began working to recycle old wool sweaters that had developed moth holes or had been accidentally felted. Felting takes place when the wool is agitated too much while it is being hand-washed, washed in a washing machine, or dried in the dryer. Heat and agitation of any kind will felt wool. The wool fibers shrink and meld together until the fabric of the sweater can be cut without unraveling. I happened to be looking through our local Goodwill store when I came upon this beautiful American Eagle sweater in the children’s section. Someone had accidentally felted this one, and it shrunk to the point that it had been mistaken for a child’s sweater! I bought it and took it home and made this handbag. After I had worked out a paper pattern to the size and style I wanted (there is a nice pattern in Craft Cycle by Heidi Boyd), I cut off the bottom ribbing, laid the sweater flat on the floor, and pinned the pattern in place. I carefully cut the pattern out and stitched the bottom and side seams together on my sewing machine. (This project could easily be stitched by hand if you do not have a sewing machine. I simply find the machine faster.) Then I stitched the handles together at the top. I decided to try unraveling the ribbing I had cut off from the bottom so that I could use it to blanket stitch the edges and make the handles rounder at the top. This required some patience initially since I had to pick out all the remaining pieces of yarn that had been cut off of the main body of the sweater before I could unravel the full strands of yarn left in the ribbing, but my patience was rewarded. Not only was I able to blanket stitch the edges of my handbag, but I had enough left over to crochet a small tube which I tied into a decorative knot with chained tassels on the end. I attached this to keep the purse closed. There is a piece of Velcro under the knot with its corresponding piece on the front of the purse. I finished off by making a liner for the inside with some leftover fabric. I have really enjoyed the finished product!

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