Tutorial – Seamless Felt Handbag

It’s quite a simple strapless bag but a nice shape and a good bag to begin with. I’ve used a natural grey Merino fibre but you can choose any fibre to use.

1. Resist

I usually begin seamless felted items with a resist, so called because it resists the layers felting together. To get the right size I decide what size I want the finished item to be and add 40% to allow for shrinkage if working with Merino fibres. Different fibres will give different shrinkage rates e.g. Herdwick gives 30% shrinkage. Don’t forget to round off any sharp corners so they don’t poke through your fibres.

resist

2. Laying out the background

Don’t have your hands too close together so the fibres will separate easily. Begin by laying a fringe half on, half off the resist and then fill in the centre. Your next layer of fibre needs to be at right angles to the first layer.

pulling fibresfill inchange direction
wet outturn over

Put your net on the fibres and wet out with soapy water. use your hand to press all the water down through the fibres until it goes flat and give a very light rub with a bag. Take off the net and turn the resist over to fold in your fringe. Repeat as above on this side. Add a third layer to each side or, if you pull finely, add two more layers in the same way as before.

3. Adding a pattern

The resist should be completely covered by fibres and now it’s time to add any final decorations or patterning. I’ve added a few simple strips of black fabric. Bear in mind which end is the top of your bag and that you will be cutting in a handle later.

laid outpinch test

Then it’s back on with the net, wet it out and rub until the pattern is set and do the pinch test above on each side of the resist. If the fibres stay together then you’re ready to roll. If the fibres start to separate you need to rub for longer.

4.Ready to roll

I use a piece of pipe insulation for rolling but you can use a broom handle. Wrap the whole thing up in the bubble wrap and roll 100 times. Unroll, the package, turn 90 degrees and roll for another 100. Unwrap, turn it over and repeat.

rollingchange roll direction

5. Finishing

When the resist begins to buckle it’s time to remove the felt. Cut the resist open and rub the cut edges with soapy fingers to harden before removing the resist. Remove the resist then work around the edges with soapy hands to make sure ridges don’t form down the sides of your bag. I put it over my hand to do this. To full (harden) the felt you can continue to roll or throw it onto the table. The impact of the throwing shocks the felt into hardening and gives a more textured finish.

bucklingcut open and seal rub edgessides on top

When rolling you need to change direction often to keep your felt shrinking in proportion and also to lay the bag with the sides uppermost as shown above to prevent ridges forming on the sides. You can also rub again with your hands. To form the bottom, fold the felt to form an eye shape and rub well. The felt will remember this shaping if you repeat the process periodically whilst felting.

harden in towelmeasuring

Remember to keep checking the bag until you’ve shrunk it down to the desired size. You can roll in a mat to harden but I often use a towel as it also increases friction and aids felting. When you’ve achieved the correct size, cut a slit in the centre top (about 1.5 inches down) to form a handle. If you don’t like the obvious cut edges just rub them with soapy hands until they soften off. . Whilst the felt is wet it can be shaped, so stretch it and pull it back into shape if you need to before leaving to dry.

finished bag

14 Responses to “Tutorial – Seamless Felt Handbag”

  1. Sandy says:

    wow! thanks to your tutorial, I have made my first real handbag! Your bag looks so awesome. I had a little trouble with the merino/silk blend I added for color, they took forever to felt. Thanks so much for your easy to follow instructions!
    Sandy
    Bachar Farms

  2. Angela says:

    Thank you so much for the feedback Sandy, I’m so pleased it was easy to follow 🙂

  3. Fran says:

    I have been less successful than Sandy, all my own fault. My thanks for the tutorial, I enjoyed the process though the result still hangs in the balance. However, the day has finally prompted me to bite the bullet and start my own blog, in which I have included a link to your tutorial. If you have time to look and tell me if I spotted all the things I did wrong, I would be doubly grateful.

  4. lynn mccalmon says:

    What is resist or what is it made from. Where can it be purchased

  5. angela says:

    Hi Lynn, you can use any kind of plastic for the resist including bubble wrap but something thick enough to feel the edge but thin enough to roll up is best. You can even use old garden compost bags but I like visqueen builders plastic which is used as a damp-proof membrane.

  6. susana says:

    Muchas gracias por su tutorial,es muy claro.Ya me pongo a tratar de realizar un bolso,me encantan los trabajos en fieltro.

  7. angela says:

    You’re very welcome, I’m glad you found it useful

  8. Christine says:

    Many thanks for such clear and helpful guidance on seamless wet felting. To have this with good pictures demonstrating the techniques was so helpful. I purchased two books neither came close – I was still in the fog about the technique. So thanks again. Happy felting Christine

  9. angela says:

    Thanks so much for taking the time to comment Christine, I’m glad you found the tutorial useful and I wish you happy felting too

  10. Chris says:

    Hi what a great tutorial, I have been trying to find tutorials or books on wet felted bags, with a bit of good luck I found yours, could you suggest any other books that would be helpful, keep up the brilliant work that you are doing

  11. angela says:

    Thanks Chris. I think one of the most helpful books on the market is Uniquely Felt by Cjristine White. It goes through each process in detail and there are some good projects to complete.

  12. Mare says:

    I just completed my purse using your direction, it’s really nice.
    Just wanted to say thank you!

  13. angela says:

    Thank you for taking the time to comment and good luck with your felting x

  14. Guylaine says:

    Hello, I’m going to give it a try. How much wool will I need in grams?

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