How To Make A Spinning Wheel Bag

Lately it seems that whenever I want to know how to do something, it's really difficult for me to find information (or safety warnings, as the case may be) from those who have tried it before.  This leads me to believe that Something Ought To Be Done, and so I have begun to make these little tutorials.  On the chance that others may be looking for the same help, I'm offering up what I have learned.  I hope you will contact me with ideas for future tutorials - I'm always eager to learn and share, even if it's from the perspective of what not to do.

Here's where I left off with the BFRBSW:  When last I reported, I was struggling with the color of my repurposed wool, having achieved only Persimmon, when I wanted RED.  I braced myself for the worst, convinced that to get real red I would have to take off the gloves (or put them ON, as it turns out) and get some Real dye - the kind you can't get at the grocery store that has heavy metals and other scary things in it.  And then by the time I calculated shipping costs and waiting times, I had chickened myself out.  I decided to try one more time, this time, using my beloved drink mix.  No less than 12 packets of Tropical Punch later (plus a whole bottle of green food coloring I had laying around, just for giggles), and I got the painted, rustic, RED look I was hoping for:

Here's a shot of the back, where you can also see that I attached a couple of 1 1/2" straps, backpack style, with a loop at the top for grabbing hold of.  You can also see that the bottom 1/3 of my side gusset is reinforced with ballistic nylon, for a little extra stability.

Here you can see how thick and fluffy my felted wool blanket is:

Two layers together are easily 1/2" thick, so do not attempt these maneuvers outside of a closed course with safety personnel standing by.  Go slow with your machine, and for pity's sake, do NOT run over any pins.  You can also see the zipper in this shot, already inserted into the side gusset.

I was so pleased with myself after achieving Kool-Aid success that I decided to use the scraps that had not been dyed yet as surface decoration:

Here they are drying in the sun outside.  I cut them out freehand and threw them randomly into 4 different pots of Dylon (Flamingo Pink, Bahama Blue, Amazon Green, and Intense Violet).

And here's the Big Payoff:

The round felt balls are premade from the craft store (create when you must, cheat when you can), and the tassel-thingys are zipper pulls I made from the embellishment scraps.  I think it has a fun cartoon-y quality, which is about right for what amounts to the world's largest homemade backpack:

Size reference = actual 7-year old

Size reference = actual 7-year old

And that's all it took:  Old blanket + Way the hell too much time + Perseverance = BFRBSW.

Here's an official materials list, for any brave (or broke) souls who wish to attempt their own:

1 Old wool blanket, free of moth holes or stains, felted (about 2.5 yds total fabric needed)
2 yds pre-quilted lining fabric for lining
1 36" 2-way zipper
1.5" buttons (2)
.25 yds ballistic nylon for bottom reinforcement
1 packet felted wool beads

The side gusset and pockets are not drawn in my pattern schematic, but measure as follows:
Side Gusset:    7"H x 66"L rectangle, seamed at center bottom of bag, slit horizontally in center 36" to accommodate zipper.
Pocket:            14"W x 10"H with rounded lower corners
Pocket Flap:     14"W x 4"H with rounded lower corners
Bag Bottom:     7"H x 22"L

Vague Sewing Instructions (this is a knitting blog, after all, and if you are confident enough to attempt sewing this project, you probably don't need much from me anyway.  That said, please e-mail me if I can help at all):

Cut front and back (one each from outer fabric and lining fabric)
Cut side gusset (one each from outer fabric and lining fabric)
Cut one pocket and one pocket flap from outer fabric
Cut one lower reinforcement from nylon fabric

Cut a 36" horizontal slit in side gusset and side gusset lining.  Install zipper in outer fabric side gusset.  Join ends of side gusset.  Baste lower reinforcement to side gusset, centering on gusset seam.  Pin and sew pocket and flap in place on bag front.  Pin and sew side gusset to bag front, centering bottom and zipper.  Pin and sew bag back.  Repeat with lining pieces.  Insert lining into bag and stitch in place by hand, inside, along zipper edge.  Pin strap in place and stitch firmly by hand at ends and center back loop, as shown.  Add embellishments as desired.

My wheel is a Lendrum DT Complete, so if you have the same model, these measurements will work for you as is.  If yours is a different brand of folding wheel, you will need to measure accordingly, but the basic pieces should still work for you.

In addition to the donated wool outer fabric, I spent about $75 on materials (including dyestuffs for 2 attempts, YMMV)  The only commercially-available spinning wheel bag I am aware of sells for $120-$200, depending on the fabric you choose.  Totally worth it, if you have the means, and your time is worth anything (it IS).  If you lack the means, or just want yours to be different from what everyone else has when you show up for spinning class, I recommend making your own!

Dye Job

I do not now, nor have I ever, claimed to be a seasoned professional in the art/science of the dye pot. 

What I am is a cheapskate in need of a bag in which to stick my new spinning wheel so that I can take it to class.  Having blown invested several months' worth of the fiber budget on a new spinning wheel, it's going to be a while before I can afford a "real" (i.e., made by someone other than myself) spinning wheel bag.  I'm fairly industrious, though, and have decided to give a whirl to making my own. 

I'm starting off with a vintage wool blanket which was donated to the cause by my mom.  The cream-colored blanket was felted long ago by some hapless sort (not Mom, for the record - she's a great respecter of wool) and is now roughly 1/2" thick.  Perfect, thought I, to cushion the wee Wheely from bumps and bruises when I drag her to the Black Sheep Gathering next month.  Except that a cream-colored bag fits neither my fancy, nor the black zipper and straps I have to install on it.  So to the dye pot I sent the pieces of my soon-to-be bag.  I was going for a deep shade of Turkey Red.  What I got was neither deep nor red.  I'd call Strawberry-Rhubarb, at best.  A closeup:

Lofty, fluffy, soft and cushion-y.  Just not red.  I do not yet admit defeat:  Rome was not built in a day, so neither will my Budget-Friendly Repurposed Blanket Spinning Wheel Bag (BFRBSW) be. 

Assault 2 on the BFRBSW will utilize Kool-Aid, and plenty of it.  No more Mr. Nice-Guy Fabric Store dye.  No Siree.  I'm declaring war on pink, and I'm willing to accept casualties.  

This is surely one of those situations where time and perseverance can be a replacement for money and skill. 


I'll report back after the second attempt.