A few months back, a friend tipped me off to the most beautiful tote bag I'd ever seen...this knitting bag from twig&horn. I LOVED the dark grey wool outer, the mixed media with the leather straps, and the large size to accommodate knitting projects. What I did not love was the $180 price tag. So when Organic Cotton Plus contacted me about a review, I had a vague notion of trying to copy the twig&horn bag. That notion became a reality when I saw their 100% wool felt. Available in small sheets, by the yard, or even in ribbon, I couldn't wait to nab some yardage and make my own tote bag.
I selected Charcoal and the color is perfect. The lining is 100% cotton broadcloth in Pumice, which is a sort of pinky-lilac color. I don't believe I've ever worked with broadcloth before. It reminded me of a high quality muslin, although a bit sheer. Perfect for a contrast bag lining and very easy to sew. For straps, I went with black hemp webbing in a width of 1.5".
I spent a lot of time searching for a pattern that would get me close to my inspiration bag. Being primarily a garment sewist, the only bag designer I knew offhand was Noodlehead (Range Backpack, I'm coming for you someday!). I checked out her website and found the Wool+Wax Tote pattern, which looked pretty darn close. I happened to run across her booklet, Everyday Essentials, when I was ordering some fabric from another shop, and added that to my cart. The Everyday Essentials booklet contains the Wool+Wax Tote pattern, and two additional ones, although you can purchase all the patterns separately as PDFs.
The pattern was very easy to follow. I think I spent as much time cutting and interfacing as I did sewing! I used a universal 80/12 needle and a walking foot. The wool felt has no spandex or stretch but I did find the walking foot fed the layers much better than a regular foot. I used pink thread for a subtle contrast with the topstitching. The only change I made was to add a magnetic closure, and also to add some ultra firm stabilizer to the bottom.
In conclusion, if you want to work with this wool felt (which you should, because it is awesome!) consider whether or not it will ever be hot/wet/washed DURING the project AND after.