Archives for category: Crafts

Ever since I was asked to make a purse from an accidentally felted Eileen Fisher sweater last year, I’ve been thinking about making more “upcycled” sweater purses. I’ve been seeing really cute ones on Pinterest, and spotted this one at a high school basketball game:

Photo of an upcycled sweater purse

I know I want to make some!

To get started, I created an Upcycled Sweater Purses Pinterest board to collect  ideas. I have a couple of wool sweaters that were headed to the thrift store, but are now in a plastic tote, waiting to be upcycled.  I just need some time to dig in and have fun!

Accessories, especially purses, are always popular items at my fundraising boutique sales, and I think upcycled sweater purses would be a big hit. Do you agree?

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Nuno felting is a technique of binding unspun wool fibers to cloth to create felt. I first heard about it a few years ago when a friend gave me a nuno felted scarf that she had made. It was absolutely stunning!

This weekend, I finally learned this technique at Stitches West 2013. My good friend Mary Ann and I took a class from Judy Pascale, who walked us through the steps to create a felted scarf. She provided us with beautiful hand-dyed pieces of silk for our base and a table loaded with roving (wool fiber) in every color imaginable. It was a fiber candy store!

Judy is a fantastic teacher, and we enjoyed every minute of the day-long class.

The basic process is to lay fibers on top of a piece of silk, wet it, press the fibers in place, cover it with plastic, wrap it around a pool noodle and bubble wrap, and roll the heck out of it. Every so often, you unroll it to check on the progress, adjust the fibers as needed, add more water, and roll it again. The final steps are to crinkle the silk backing by rubbing it and then ironing it. The transformation from raw materials to the finished scarf is impressive! Here are some photos from the class:

Raw fibers on silk scarf

I started my scarf with a background of blue and purple fibers.

Mary Ann laying fibers

Here’s Mary Ann laying the fibers on her scarf

Partially felted scarf

I added a fringe of blue leaves at the end and gold leaves on the body of the scarf. This shows the partially felted scarf, after it had been rolled a few times.

Rubbing scarf to crinkle the silk backing

Mary Ann is rubbing the almost finished scarf to crinkle the silk backing.

After the class, Mary Ann asked if I would be making felted scarves for my fundraising. Perhaps they would make a great item for a silent auction. What do you think?

My finished scarf

My finished scarf

At our church coffee hour earlier this month, I saw a woman carrying a felted purse I made a few years ago. Assuming she would remember buying it from me, I said something like,  “I like your purse.”  She thanked me, and as we introduced ourselves, it became clear that she didn’t know I had made her purse. When I told her, her eyes completely lit up. It turns out that she had been looking for me to propose a special project.

Elizabeth’s mother had passed away this year, and in going through her things, Elizabeth found an Eileen Fisher sweater that she had given to her mother a few years ago. Unfortunately, her mother had washed and dried the wool sweater, and it was now a felted child-sized version of its former self.

Elizabeth asked if I could turn the sweater into an evening purse. It would be a Christmas gift to her daughter, as a memory of her grandmother.

I told Elizabeth that, although I had never done something like this before, I would like to give it a try. We agreed to meet the following week so that I could see the sweater and brainstorm ideas for the purse.

Well, I finished the purse in time for Christmas, and Elizabeth loves it. Phew! To thank me, she will be making a donation to our church’s scholarship fund for girl acolytes. (I support this fund with my boutique sales at our coffee hour each December.) Thank you, Elizabeth.

Picture of the finished purse