Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Knitted Felted Tote Bag Purse ~ Free Pattern by trailbugz

I knitted and felted this wool tote bag a few years ago, to hold my knitting projects.  However, I loved it so much, that I ended up lining it and I now use it as a fall/winter purse.  It is very roomy, the bottom lays flat and the courduroy lining can be made with pockets, to store your car keys, cell phone, cosmetics and other necessities.

Knitting Skill Level:  Easy
Sewing Skill Level:  Intermediate (uses the felted bag as a pattern)

Finished Size after Felting:  17" Long (without the handle);  15" Wide across the diameter;  30" Around/Circumference.  Handle can be made to any size you wish.  Mine is 2" wide x 26" Long.
              Note:  Sizes are approximate depending on individual knitting gauge

Size Before Felting:  36" Long (without handle);  23" Wide across the diameter;  46" Around the Circumference
              Note:  Sizes are approximate depending on individual knitting gauge and size before felting

Felted Bag Materials:5 Skeins of wool (1 each of 5 different colors)
     I used: Olive Green, Burnt Orange, Dark Red, Eggplant Purple, Golden Yellow
1 skein of beige acrylic "nubby" yarn
Circular Needles size 10 (6.5mm) for the bag
Single pointed needles size 10 for the handle
Yarn needles or large eye hand sewing needle (I used plastic - set of 6 in a pack)
Stitch markers

Knitted Bag Instructions:Starting with the color of your choosing, cast on 150 stitches.  Join to work in the round.  Place a stitch marker at the beginning of the round, so you will know where to end/begin another color.  Knit around and around and around the "circle" (stockinette stitch). 
Change colors at the stitch marker, when the stripe is as wide as you like.  I varied the width of my color bands, to add visual interest to my bag; as I did not want uniform stripes.  (To add a new color: cut your yarn and leave a "tail" of appx. 6".  Begin new color, also leaving a tail.  After a few inches of knitting, go back & knot the two tails of yarn together.  Weave in the ends.)

Every few stripes, knit in 1 row of the "nubby" yarn.  This acryllic yarn will NOT felt, but it creates a bit of depth to the project and looks even nubbier after felting.  In the photos, this is the lightest stripe that runs through my felted fabric.

Continue knitting in various colors and stripe widths of 1" -3"  until the length of the knitted cylinder measures 36" long (or longer). Cast off, tie knot at the end and weave in the tail.

For the handle, Cast on as many stitches as you want for the length.  Knit until the handle is 3x wider than you desire. It will shrink in width, during the felting process. You may want to experiment with using several colors (I used 2 colors). Note: you may also decide to knit two shorter handles, rather than one long handle.

Felting the Bag:Using laundry soap and HOT water, fill the washing machine or large tub.  Agitate for minimum of 30 minutes (I used a tub and BBQ tongs), ensuring that the water stays hot and the knitted fabric remains soapy.  It is the combination of soap & hot water that will felt the wool fibers together.  When the bag has felted and shrunk down to the size you like, rinse in cold water.  Roll it in a large towell, and wring tightly to remove excess water.  Use clothespins and a hanger, to hang it dry overnight. Repeat the felting process for the handle.

Assembling the Bag:Decide which end will be the top of the bag, and which end will be the bottom of the bag.  Turn the bag inside out (right sides together) and match up the bottom (raw) edges.  Machine stitch the bottom edges together. To make a gusset, for a flat bottom; arrange the bag so the new bottom seam is flat on the table (wrong side up).  Measure in appx. 4" from each pointed end.  Machine stitch a seam across
the point, at the 4" mark.  This creates the flat bottom of the bag.  Turn right side out.

Lay bag flat, to find the center sides.  Pin the handle in place.  With coordinating yarn, handstitch handle in place.  Ornamental butons or beads may also be sewn onto the outside of the bag, for extra strength.  If you prefer a cuff, fold the cuff down before attaching the handles, sewing through both layers. 

Make sure the plastic canvas is the same size as the bottom (gusset) of the felted bag. Trim to size, if needed.  Place the 3 layers of plastic canvas on top of each other.  With yarn, "sew" all 3 layers of plastic canvas together. Place the plastic canvas in the bottom of the felted bag, as extra support (these may also be covered in fabric, for a more finished look).

Make the Lining and Accessory Pockets (optional):

Lining Materials:Sewing Machine
1/2 yard of courduroy or wool;  for lining
3 pcs. 7" x 9" Plastic Canvas (for stability on the flat bottom)
Hand sewing needle
Straight Pins
Thread to match the lining fabric

Fold your lining fabric in half (right sides together). Flatten out your knitted bag and place it on top of your folded fabric.  Align one side of the knitted bag, against the fold.  And align the top of the knitted bag 1/2" from the top of the fabric.
With a ruler and pencil, trace the remaining two sides of the knitted bag, adding 1/2" seam allowance to the bottom and side. Cut on the pencil markings, so you now have a large rectangle (Note: Do not cut the fold, as you will use this rectangle to create a "tube", to fit inside your bag). 

Fold over the top edge of the lining fabric (1/4" then another 1/4"). Press with hot iron and machine top stitch to create a finished hem.

With leftover fabric scraps, create pockets: 
Measure the size(s) of pockets you desire, adding 1/2" on all sides. (Note: I used one long rectangle, stitched down at intervals, to create several pockets with 1 rectangle).  Clip corners, Fold in raw edges, press with iron.

Position pockets on the lining fabric, right sides out (leaving appx. 1" minimum, from the top of the lining).  Pin pockets in place.  Top stitch sides and bottom of all pockets, to the lining fabric. 

With right sides together, Sew the lining fabric up the side, to create a tube. Machine Stitch across the bottom.  Make 4" gussets at each end, as you did above, with the felted bag.

Slip the lining into the felted bag (wrong sides together), ensuring that bottom seam and gussets match up.  Pin in place. 
Pin the top edge of the lining to within 1" of the top of the felted bag. Handstitch lining in place, at the bottom seam and top edges.  (Note: if you have a cuff on the outside of your bag, do not stitch through the outer cuff layer, you will want a "hidden" seam).

I hope you enjoy your bag! I just love mine!

Please let me know if you have any questions! Please feel free to make comments & let me know how yours turned out!


Unknown said...

This is GREAT! Thanks for posting. (:

Julie said...

This bag looks lovely! Thanks for posting the pattern. Can you tell me the weight of the yarn you used? Here in the UK it is usually sold in 50g/100g balls or skeins. From the needle size you list, I can work out what thickness to buy.

Wini B. said...

This is a great looking bag and I think it will be a good way to use some of my home spun yarns. Thanks for sharing it with us. Wini

Dizzertation said...

This is amazing - and you've given us so many details! Thank you!!!