Saturday, February 27, 2010

How to Make a Round Topped Bag

The finished bags are about 6 to 8 inches long, and about 3 to 4 inches across.
You will need:
                  some heavier weight fabric such as a felted wool sweater, about 10" x 13"
                  a zipper at least 12" long, up to 14" or 15"
                  thread, either matching or contrasting

First, you cut out an oval shape from your wool, it doesn't really matter what size,

 You can even use a fancy rotary blade to scallop the edge.
 Fold it in half vertically, and place a pin on each end at the fold line to mark the half-way point.  Unzip your zipper (Ha ha ha) and mark the halfway point on each side of it.
This is because it works best to sew each side of the zipper in two go's-- from the center down to the end of the zipper on each side. ( I tried sewing the sides of the zipper on to the felt in one seam, from one end to the other, but the felted wool has a tendency to stretch, and the two sides of the zipper stretched at different rates, so they turned out different lengths along the wool, -- if that explanation makes your head spin, don't try to figure it out, just take my word for it.)
So, starting at the half-way point on one side, match the center of one side of the zipper, making sure that the zipper pull side is facing upwards! and top-stitch the wool down on to the fabric part of the zipper.  You can use a zig-zag stitch if you like.
 turn it around and do the other side.  you'll have to have the bulk of the fabric on the right side of the needle to do this. At some point while doing this, you'll have to stop with the needle down in the stitching to move the zipper pull from one end of the zipper to the other, so that you can get close enough to the zipper teeth to stitch. 
 Then, repeat this for the other side of the zipper.
 Next, just fold the oval in half horizontally, and sew seams on the two sides, from the place where the zipper teeth start (back-stitch here) to the folded edge.

Now it's time to "box the corners".  This is to give the bag a squared corner bottom.  You just turn the seam to lay flat against the bottom of the bag, and stitch a seam cross-ways about 1" from the point.  you can experiment with how far away from the point you want to sew.  The farthur away that you place the seam will give a wider, but shorter bottomto the bag. 
 Then I usually cut the extra fabric off to reduce bulk.  You can zig-zag this seam if you like, especially if you're using a fabric other than wool that might fray.

When you turn it right side out, you will be so pleased with it! (I hope)
Then, you might want to embellish it somehow:
 You could sew on some doodads, or buttons.  On the red bag above, I used 2 of these ribbon roses to make a fancier zipper pull by just stitching through the hole on the metal zipper pull.

 On the light blue bag, I just pinned on a felt brooch I'd made sometime, it just is some cut out flower shapes stacked up with a button in the middle, and a safety pin sewed on the back.
 On the dark blue bag, I used a facing of quilting cotton to enclose the raw edge of the wool along the edge of the zipper...  I like how it turned out but it is beyond my powers of description to tell you how I did it.

It also has a wrist strap, sewn in when the little cross-seam was made to box the end. 

Any other ideas for how to vary the bag, or decorate it? I'd love to hear any ideas! michelle 


  1. These are so cute, thanks for posting this tutorial! My imagination is running away thinking about using all those scraps for something nice like this!

  2. yeah, i'm still thinking of the strap you made on that red bag with the leather belt, keeping my eye out for one for down the road, michelle

  3. LOVE this idea - especially for ones who are new to felting, this would be perfect project!
    THANKS for posting this tutorial.


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