Recycled Sweater Purse
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This is a fun project for recycling old wool sweaters. I found the wool sweater at a local second hand shop. The lining fabric that I used was recycled from an old fabric sample book obtained from an interior design business. Please feel free to improvise this project using your own creative vision. The lining and closure are optional.
Janome Supplies Required
• Any Janome machine
• Ziz-zag foot A
• Blue tip needle 75/11
Fabric and Notions Required
• Purse: 1 100% wool sweater pull over style with a “v” or round neckline
• Lining and interior pocket: scrap upholstery weight fabric approximately 1 yd
• Purse strap: 2 yds. 1” cotton cord filler (home dec.)
• Closure: 1 button and approximately 3-4 yds. of cording or acrylic yarn in a contrating color to the sweater color (for hand sewing decorative stitching)
• 2-3 yds. of 100% wool yarn matched to color of sweater (for hand sewing)
• Heavy weight iron on interfacing approximately 14” x 8” piece (for stabilizing the bottom of the handbag)
• Dish washing detergent
• Sewing machine needle
• All purpose sewing thread, to match fabric
• Sharp fabric scissors or rotary cutter
• Measuring tape
• Marking chalk or washable marking pen
1. Lay the sweater out flat with front facing up.
2. Cut of the sleeves at the seam line. Set the sleeves aside.
3. With the marking pen or chalk square off the arm holes.
4. Cut on the marked lines.
5. To create straps for handles measure in approximately 2” in from shoulder seams and draw chalk lines straight down from top of shoulder seam to bottom of squared off arm hole and connect the lines straight across the center front of the sweater.
6. Cut the area out. Cut through the front and back. Set the piece cut from the back neckline aside. The front neckline piece will be used to create a pocket on the front of the bag.
7. Shift the sweater around so that the straps will lie on top of each other and lay it flat with side seams on top of each other center in the front.
8. Place the front neckline piece on the front of the bag. Line up this piece with the base of the straps and center the pocket over the side seams of the sweater that will become the center front of the bag. Sew the outside edges down by hand using 100 % wool yarn.
9. Using 100 % wool yarn hand stitch each strap around the cotton filler cord starting at the base of the strap on one end and continuing around to the other end.
10. Cut open the seams on both sleeves. One sleeve will be used to create the bottom piece on the hand bag.
11. The pieces are now ready to be fulled. This is the process of felting wool from a piece of fabric that has been knitted, crocheted, or woven with wool fibers. Place the sweater handbag and 2 sleeve pieces in a zippered pillow case and wash in a machine. Set the machine for a low water level, normal agitation, hot water wash, and cold water rinse.
12. Once the cycle is complete remove the handbag and sleeve pieces. Gently shake off the fuzz balls that may have accumulated through the fulling process and line dry.
13. After the handbag has dried, check the seam around the handle and the pocket. If some of the stitching has opened re-stitch these closed by hand using a matching color of sewing thread.
14. Using one sleeve piece round the edges cutting the piece into an elongated oval to fit the bottom of the bag. Cut a piece of interfacing approximately 1” smaller than the bottom piece. Press the interfacing to adhere to the bottom piece. Cut one piece from the lining fabric using the handbag bottom piece of wool for a pattern. Set the cut lining piece aside.
15. Pin the bottom piece of wool to the bottom opening of the bag keeping the seams to the outside and the interfacing inside the handbag.
Machine Sewing Instructions
1. Set up the machine for regular sewing
2. Insert the sewing machine needle
3. Wind the bobbin.
4. Thread the machine.
5. Thread the bobbin.
6. Attach the Zigzag foot A.
7. Select straight stitch # 1.
8. Sew a straight stitch completely around the bottom of the bag with a 1/4” seam allowance.
9. Trim the seam allowance to 1/8” and sew a Zigzag stitch over the seam to secure the edge.
10. Sew a button to the front center of the bag to create a closure.
10. On the back side of the back sew cording or yarn to make a loop that will pull over the top of the bag and loop around the button. You can make a braided loop by cutting 9 20” pieces of yarn and securing the top ends with a knot or stitching across them. Once the ends are secure you can triple up the strands and braid them to form a thicker cording to attach to the back inside of the bag.
10. Lay the handbag flat and cur 2 rectangular pieces of lining material 1/2” larger than the handbag shape.
11. To make a simple patch pocket cut 2 rectangular pieces the size that you would like the pocket to be. With right sides together stitch 1/4” seam around the pocket leaving 2” open on the bottom edge for turning right side out. Turn right side out and press. Machine stitch the opening closed using a straight stitch 1/8” from the edge.
12. Place the pocket on the right side of lining fabric centered towards the bottom of one piece. Pin in place and stitch around the side edges and the bottom 18” from edge to create pocket. If desired once pocket is sewn to the lining you may stitch a straight line through pocket top to bottom divide space into two or more separate areas. This can be convenient to use one space for a cell phone and one space for keys.
13. Sew the lining side seams together with right sides facing using 5/8” seam allowance.
14. Pin the oval bottom cut piece of lining material to the bottom of the lining with right sides facing the inside.
15. Stitch around the bottom of the lining piece using a 5/8” seam allowance.
16. Stitch around the top of the lining’s raw edge using a Zigzag or overcast stitch to prevent fabric from fraying.
17. Check for fit by placing the lining piece inside the bag. Adjust size at appropriate seams if necessary.
18. Take the lining out of the bag and add a decorative stitch around the outside of the pocket, using acrylic suede yarn, whip stitch by hand an outline around the pocket.
19. Insert the lining inside the handbag with wrong sides together. Attach the lining to the handbag by stitching the top of the lining to the top of the hand bag by machine using a straight stitch and 1/4” seam allowance. Stop stitching at the base of each handle and continue stitching on the other side of each handle until you reach the place you began.
20. Using the same acrylic yarn used the outline the pocket whip stitch by hand around the top edge of the hand bag.