Bag workshop

Saturday was lovely and sunny outside and in as we created some fab felt bags.


The small blue/green bag on the left was made by Mandy. It’s only her second ever piece of felt and she made a great job of it even venturing into adding a pleat. On the right is the blue / red bag by Chris who decided upon a spiral pleat repeated on both sides.


Repeating the spiral pleat, on both sides, in the same position also made a wonderful gussett on the bag. Gill wanted a large fairly plain bag for everyday use. It had an internal pocket and was destined for a leather strap.


Irene was very taken with my leaf shaped bag and created her own autumnal version with a green interior. Many pleats means more stitching and felting but it was on it’s way to completion by the time she left. I can’t wait to see a photo of it finished.


Irene was also inspired to try one with more pleats and this shape I created based on a shell but Irene’s colour choice of turquoise with a white interior was stunning.


It was a joy to work with these lovely ladies and a very big thank you to them all for their help in tidying away. Clifton Village Hall is a really nice small hall with views into adjoining fields full of sheep and donkeys. All my workshops are being held at this venue for the remainder of the year, I hope to see some of you there.

Inspired by …..

I really love making the pleated bags, high relief 3D work is quite abosrbing. Hopefully you’ll be able to see that I was inspred by the art deco roses of Charles Rennie Mackintosh.


The interior is in Rose pink and the exterior is a carded combination of Rose, Fuchsia, Bright Pink, Coral and Pale Pink (all from Adelaide Walker).


I wanted the centre to really sing soย  I used a hand dyed silk hankie for empahsis and am still musing about adding beads to the centre, maybe a few green ones?


I wanted the handle to be quite simple and decided upon a solid green in Light Grass which was hand stitched on afterwards.


I have more ideas waiting for a chance to be worked on and will be bringing them all along as samples for the pleated bag workshop on Saturday 12th March.

Inspired by Autumn

With the howling gales and sleeting rain outside it’s hard to remember the calm, mild days of autumn but try and cast your mind back to the glorious leaf colours. It was as the leaves were turning that I became inspired to make a leaf shaped handbag with touches of autumn colour. Obviously it took a couple of weeks or so to find the time and then for one reason or another this is my first opportunity to show what I made.


Laid out, wet and set and ready to come off the resist.


The leaf veins are pinned ready for stitching, let felting commence.


I love, love, love the mini wedge washboard from Heartfelt Silks. The small size and the point allow me to get into small places and in this instance you can see I’m working two pleats at once. Please forgive the ugly gloves but I had a touch of contact dermititus at the time.


Now I’m working the areas between the pleats I’ve changed to using the edge palm washboard (Heartfelt Silks). I love, love, love this tool. These small tools are ideal for this kind of high relief work. The full range of Heartfelt Silks palm washboards are available from Adelaide Walker.


See how it’s holding that shape beautifully. When I’m in the fulling stage I often like to work on the draining board by the sink. I can heat the felt up as I work and any excess water just drains away.

The bag interior was laid out in Light Olive and the exterior is a carded blend of Light Olive and Dark Leaf with a touch of Forest Green. For the tip of the leaf and the leaf sheaped flap I used a mix ofย  Chocolate, Spice and Red Orange overlaid with copper coloured tussah silk. All wool colours available from Adelaide Walker. And now for the ta-dah moment.ย  Inside out,


From the back.


The central pleat runs all the way from the tip of the flap down and round to the front in one continuous line. The side pleats run from the front section of the central pleat to the back like ribs.


I am so very pleased with this bag, it’s turned out just as I envisioned it in my head. That’s where I do most of my designing, in my head, in the early hours of the morning before the chatter and hustle of the day invades.


To fasten the flap I was considering a leaf shaped button but friends advised against it and they were right, it doesn’t need anything else. This bag has been with me to the last couple of pleated bag workshops that I ran and I’m so pleased that it’s inspired others to make their own unique versions. This workshop will run again on Saturday 12th March in Otley, West Yorkshire, further details and booking here.

To work this way and create something that is scupltural, beautiful and practical has got me musing on further shapes and ways to develop this technique so I’m really looking forward to some spare time over Christmas to have a play.


Pleated bag workshop 2

Although this happened prior to the last posted pleated bag workshop I’ve only just been able to retrieve my photos of the event. I do hope you’re not getting tired of these as I’ve yet to show the leaf one I made in preparation for these workshops. So may shapes and colours of bags being made, it’s just wonderful to see how people work differently from the same brief.


A large bag with a lot of pleats so unfinished though it is, you can see it will be stunning when completed.



The one below was taken to an extra level with the addition of a 3D flower ๐Ÿ™‚




Another 3D flower addition but this time it’s fabric and bead stitched on afterwards and the flowers really help to emphasise the pleats.


This workshop was for York Feltmakers, a lively and very friendly group of felters. We had quite a few giggles throughout the day.


Pleated bags workshop

I was teaching over at Yealand Conyers yesterday. Much to my surprise it was a lovely sunny morning as I set off, we’d been promised bad weather. Arriving on time happened only by the skin of my teeth thanks mainly to roadworks, tractors, caravans and lorries but I was made exceedingly welcome by the whole group.

Our subject was pleated handbags, a workshop I’m growing to love ever more and indeed have extra ideas to develop it as soon as I have a little more free time. The options were to make a sheet of prefelt and stitch the seams as well as the pleats or to work on a resist. All but one decided to work on a resist.


I love turquoise blues and this bag for me is a perfect size, anything larger and I fill it with rubbish until I can’t find anything!


The original intention here was to pleat the vertical coloured lines down the front of the bag but this was rethought and a real strong feature made of the flap instead.In my opinion Janet, it’s very successful


Sue had to leave us early and so although her stitching was complete she didn’t have time to finish felting.


The picture makes this bag look green when actually it’s lovely shades of yellow gold on brown. Again, the flap became the feature and I think the three small pleats work very well with the shape of the flap. The handle will be stitched onto the outside pretty much as you see it creating even more interest.


My phone has made this look blue when it’s actually a vibrant purple. This is a large bag and so it was no surprise that Liz didn’t manage to felt it on the day, so much pleating to do.


Beautiful colours here, really showing off the space dyed fibres. Although not quite complete it was well on the way to being felted.


One of two circular bags and here I must apologise for missing photos. There was a cute round purple bag with a flap which was finished and for which I have no photo even though I could have sworn I’d taken one. However, when I cam to load these I realised that I haven’t got pictures of two more! Sorry. Happily you can see this one where the spiral pleating emphasises the circular shape of the bag.


Last but not least is another beautiful leaf shape with much care going into the stitching. Liz had just finished as I took this shot and I have to admire the zen like calm she maintained throughout the day as I know I never manage that as a participant. The larger the bag and the more pleating then the less chance of finishing at the workshop but I know they won’t regret taking them home to complete as they’re all going to look amazing.

Thank you for a pleasant day ladies and a very tasty lunch.


Pleated bag workshop

We had a great time at yesterdays workshop despite the awful weather outside and a bit of a late start (sorry people). It was at St.Peter’s Church Hall in Addingham, which is a new venue for me and I was very relieved that everyone found it okay.

I tried to take a few pictures of work in progress but my hands were so wet and slippy that only this one was usable.


It’s just wonderful to see the fibres laid out like a great big fluffy pillow, shame they can’t still look like that after felting. We were up to the wire finishing yesterday and I don’t have pictures of all the bags as some people escaped before I had chance for the photo shoot. However, the one below is by Penny and is her first ever piece of wet felting, so well done Penny, give her a round of applause.


The next is by Sandra and we were particularly pleased with how the handle turned out. There was a length of pre-felt leftover which we put a little extra fibre on the reverse then rolled up and felted for a handle. It’s made a sturdy handle and as it’s the same felt as the main bag it blends in beautifully. In fact, I think these mottled greys show off the pleats exceptionally well.


Zoe was a star, being happy to model her bag for us. It has a very useful cross body long strap and is a very practical size.


How about a close up?


As soon as I have photos of the other bags I’ll share them with you ๐Ÿ™‚

Edited to add pictures of Julia’s bag

Julia’s work was lovely and to me had a vintage feel to the finished felt. She created a messenger bag with a gussett so it’s very roomy. The line of bright pink was an inspired choice.

I like the mainly plain handle with just s splash of colour.
Part of the leftover felt was used to make bead as a fastening.
And with the last vestiges Julia made a mobile phone pocket!ย ย  Thanks for sharing Julia.

The finished item

I promised to show you the pleated bag once it was finished so here it is. If I was to make this again I would make one or two changes to the template making it larger and changing the sweep of the outline as I’d like it to be wider and deeper.ย  Shown below is the bag with the source of the inspiration.


And a side view.


The interior fibres were completely smothered with mulberry silk tops ensuring a smooth and lustrous interior. I’m not sure that you can see it that well in the shot below but either it didn’t shine or it reflected the light too much.


This was fun to do and if I had time there are now three more ideas jostling in my head desperate to be released. However, they’ll have to wait patiently behind the backpacks and wraps which are already queueing.


This is just one of the bags I’ll be using for inspiration in my workshop tomorrow. I hope they’ll like it.

Pleated bags at Addingham

Next Saturday I will be running a pleated bag workshop at St.Peter’s Church Hall in Addingham. Beginning with making a prefelt we will then stitch in pleats and seams using a quick and easy running stitch before felting the finished bag. Using prefelt and pleats allows you to create many styles of bag.





The workshop price include all materials and use of equipment plus it’s also suitable for beginners. More detail and online booking here.

Pleated bags workshop

This is the first chance I’ve had to show you what was made. Not every bag has been photographed as a couple of people left early and I forgot to do it before they left. We worked mainly in Blue Faced Leicester with Merino and silks as decoration.


The trick is not to make your pleats too small or they disappear during felting. The work in progress above is by Sue and was destined to be a tote bag.


A great tote bag by Jeni using tussah silk for decoration which will shine more once dry. I think this is one of the felt items she’s been most pleased with.


This beauty was by Wendi and was the only one made with a full width flap. The embellishments is sari silk.


I loved the shape of this small bag and the contrast handle and button set off the oatmeal BFL very well.


I thought you might appreciate a closer view of the structure of these pleats.


This messenger bag with diagonal pleats worked out very well. The partial flap was a later addition and I love the way it echoes the line of the pleats. All in all a very successful day I’d say.


This workshop was held at Gisburn Festival Hall which as you can see is lovely and light with lots of space. Think I may have to book some more there.