We’ve all been through it: something happens to your favorite sweater, it shrinks in the laundry, and it ends up a fraction of the size it used to be. Who doesn’t hate that? Once it happens, though, there’s nothing you can do about it. Your choices are to throw it away or make it into something else. Some people turn the shrunken sweaters into pillows but you can do something totally different. Make a sweater tote and you’ll almost be happy the sweater shrunk!
If the sweater hasn’t been shrunk take steps to do that. Wash the sweater in hot water, put it in a warm dryer – but keep an eye on it. If washing it does the trick you won’t have to put it in a warm dryer. But, if the sweater still has a really loose knit you have to take additional steps. The important part isn’t so much shrinking the sweater as it is to create a tighter knit. When the sweater is shrunken and dry you can then proceed to making the unique purse.
Turn the sweater inside-out and lay it flat on a table. Cut straight across the sweater, just below the underarm area. The cut area will become the bottom of the purse. Stitch across it, using a small stitch, and using binding, if necessary. Turn the purse right side-out.
Cut one sleeve off of the sweater. Cut straight across the upper arm area of the sleeve then cut the front of the sleeve from the back to make two pieces. Cut two handles as wide and long as you want. The width is important. Decide how wide you want the handles (wide handles are best) then cut the sweater to be three times that width. Cut the sweater pieces to the length you want the handles to be.
Cut pieces of felt, plastic or other strengthening materials to go inside the purse straps. Position the piece on one of the straps. Fold one long edge of the strap over the felt. Now take the other long edge and fold it over so that they both meet in the middle. Stitch down the center of the strap. Do the other strap in the same manner.
Position the straps where you want them on the bag then stitch across the ends to attach them. Use a piece of Velcro, a button and hole or even a snap as a closure.
Other options include purchasing leather handles from a craft store or even adding a zipper. Use children’s sweaters to make small purses or larger sweaters to make assorted totes. They’re great for the beach, overnight visits, carrying around your knitting supplies and much more!