Thursday, November 11, 2010

Becky's Birthday Present

Last year (or was it the year before?) I gave my sister Becky a purse I'd made from a felted sweater. After using it for a year (or two?) it was starting to get a little worn out, so she asked me if I'd make her another purse for her birthday. I love making gifts and I was flattered she liked my purse so much, so I agreed.

Becky found a sweater she loved at her local thrift store, so she mailed it to me. I felted it in the washing machine and prepped to tear it apart make it into a purse. Felting sweaters (actually, it's technically called fulling in this case), allows the fibers to be woven together to form more of a fabric instead of the woven sweater. This means the sweater can be cut up without it unraveling. The sweater has to be a natural fiber like wool, angora, etc.

Isn't it a pretty sweater? First I laid it out so I could get a feel for what I wanted to do with it.

I turned it inside out and cut the sleeves off, since the sleeves get turned into straps. I realized that the purse would be a little small if I simply made a straight cut at the base of the arm holes.

I realized that I could make a deeper purse if I turned it so the side seams of the sweater were on the front and back of the purse.

I cut the shoulder seams out, and this is what I got. I made a straight stitch across the bottom of the sweater to form the bottom of the purse. The sides weren't straight, since the sweater was made wider at the top than the bottom, so I simply stitched the seams a little tighter.

After I stitched the seams to pull the sides in, I trimmed the excess fabric.

Then I cut the lining out of coordinating fabric. I don't follow a pattern, I just trace the sweater and make the lining a tad smaller.

Then it was time to make the bottom wider, instead of just being a straight seam with pointy corners. I don't know the technical term for this, sorry! I just took each bottom corner and folded it so the seam is like pictured below. They were right when they said a picture is worth a thousand words. Then, I stitched straight across the corner, about an inch an a half back from the tip of the corner.

Then when you turn the purse right-side out, you can see how this gives the corners a nice finished look and makes a roomier bottom for the purse. I did the same thing for the lining.

Then I sewed the lining inside the purse.

This is the purse before I added the straps. It's coming along nicely.

I cut one sleeve straight down the seam and laid it flat so I could cut the straps out. I cut 2 straps out of the sweater, then cut 2 strap liners from the liner fabric. I made the strap liners slightly narrower than the sweater fabric so it would have a nice finished look.

Then I sewed the lining into the fabric straps and turned them right-side out, then pressed with an iron.

Then I attached the straps to the purse itself, which was one of the harder parts of making the purse. The sweater fabric kept wanting to bunch up, but I eventually figured out how to attach them so it wasn't too noticeable.

Then I added the magnetic snap closure, which I probably should have added before I sewed the lining inside the purse. Then I hand sewed in a pocket for the inside of the purse, because once again I forgot to do it before the lining was sewn in! Oops. Then I attached a little iron-on "Katiegirl" label so it could be all professional-like.

And voila!! One sweater turned sweater purse!

I kinda wanted to keep it for myself, but I sent it to Becky like a good little sister. I have several sweaters waiting to be turned into purses, so I'll just have to make myself one next!


Becky said...

Katie, I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE my new purse! Thank you so much! I love being able to see how you turned it into a purse. Very cool :)
Oh, you gave me the older purse 2 years ago. :) Your fine craftmanship lasts a long time!

Jennifer said...

Oooo my goodness what a cool idea! I love it... Becky picked out a pretty sweater and you turned it into a one of a kind purse!

gz said...

funny how use of the same word can change- over here in Wales, a purse is quite small and mainly for money!

Deb said...

What a great bag Katie!!! Becky loves it and it was so handy this past weekend when we traveled. You did a fantastic job with it Katie! Oh, and gz - we have odd names for our purses or pocketbooks. Both names used to mean tiny containers for coins/money but are now used to mean any bag that women carry for their money and many other items. Technically purses are supposed to be small but the truth is that we don't have an appropriate name for our 'junk' bags... he he he What do you all carry in your purse/pocketbook? I have lotion, hand sanitizer, asthma inhaler, wallet, ink pens, little notepad, granola bar, nail file, eyeglass cleaner cloth, various receipts, extra glasses, advil, flosser picks, tissues. No wonder it's so heavy! Love you, Momma

Let's Be Self-Sufficient said...

I love it!

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