In my ongoing quest to become more organized, I’m trying to finish up a number of abandoned craft projects right now. One of these tasks is lining some knitted and felted bags. They’ve been waiting on me for a while! People seem to be uncertain how to line a bag, so I thought I’d share the process with you.
First up is this tote bag, which was knitted of Noro Hitsuji left over from a sweater, and some black Patons Classic Wool Roving. They’re both bulky yarns, so this was a quick knit. That checkerboard pattern is called “entrelac” and it’s a particularly good way to show off the colour changes in a Noro yarn. I didn’t have a pattern for this, just knit the two sides, then added 2×2 stripes up the side and a black bottom. Then I felted it, and sewed on some black leather handles. You can read my project notes on Ravelry or check out my post here on the blog. This is the bag before it was felted.
Second on the list is this messenger bag, knit following a KnitPicks pattern called Sipalu. They used to sell this as a kit, but used a fine yarn and didn’t felt it. I thought the results looked droopy and not very sturdy, so I bought the pattern on its own, then knitted it out of Patons SWS, which is a soy-wool blend that felts like mad. It’s heavier, an aran weight. Instead of using a number of colours as the kit did, I just used a solid black and the self-striping red as the contrast colour. Then it was felted, too. The button is a lovely porcelain one handmade by a local artisan. You can read my project notes on Ravelry or check out the post here on the blog.
Bag number three is a humungous messenger bag, also knit of SWS and felted. It presents some challenges because of it’s size. I thought it would shrink more when it felted, but was wrong. It’s felted as far as it can go and still be useful, but still huge. It got the second of those handmade porcelain buttons – here it is, although it’s waiting on a solution. You’ll see why in a minute. Here are the Ravelry project notes on this one and here’s my blog post about it.
The first thing I like to do with a bag is give the base more structure than just felted wool. I found these cutting boards at Ikea which are perfect. They’re heavy plastic. You can cut them to size with an X-acto or Olfa knife. I cut mine to be the size of the base of the bag, and round the corners a bit. The colours aren’t important because they won’t show. Once the board is cut to size, I secure it to the base of the bag with bag feet. You can buy these from Ghee’s online – probably other places, too – but I also found the ones with the price sticker at my local fabric store.
To do this, work four holes into the board in the right positions with an awl or even the point of one blade of scissors. Put the board inside the bag, in position. With one hand on the outside and one on the inside, match up the pins on the foot with the hole and push it through the bag and the board. (The first one can be tricky. Sometimes I have to push a pin through the board from the inside to know where to aim.) Once the pins of the foot are on the inside, you spread them wide to secure the foot in place. Once all four are done, the board isn’t going anywhere.
Those spikes might snag on things inside the bag, but I’m going to line the bag anyway. The bag’s interior will be protected!
Outside:It looks as if the plastic base is much wider than the bottom of the bag in this shot, but it’s partly the bulk of the felted wool and partly how I folded it for the photograph. There’s always a little bit of play, because a knitted wool square won’t felt to be perfectly square.
These feet are a bit small, I think, especially for the Noro tote. If the bag was going to sit on the ground a lot – like this one, which is really a suitcase – I’d use bigger ones.
Outside on #2:
This bag is narrower, so I couldn’t fold it like the one above. It is much more sturdy this way, though. The Sipalu bag also has another structural element. I had knit edges in solid red in reverse stockinette, thinking they’d roll, and they did. It was still a bit squishy. Before the felting, I sewed cord into those welts and stitched them closed, which made them into piping. Because the cord is cotton, I knew it would also shrink but at a different rate than the wool. I left the cord long and just knotted the ends. Once the bag was felted, I tugged the cords to be smooth along the edges, then trimmed and secured them. Here’s how they look inside. You won’t see any of this once it’s lined.
The issue with the thistle bag is that the base is longer than the Ikea cutting boards – a lot longer! I’ll probably use 6 feet on it and maybe bigger ones, but first I need to find a good base.
Next week, cutting and assembling the lining.