In the corner of our family room is a red leather bag. Our bag right now is filled with items such as a wreath of Tibetan bells, a polar bear snow globe, felted toy animals, chopsticks, and our favorite storytelling item of them all– a coconut shell half.
Once every six weeks or so, I change the items in the bag. As friends come over it is a common occurrence for one of them to grab the bag and ask for a story. At first, it was just me crafting stories inspired by the unique items in our story bag, but now our friends are the ones doing the telling and I have become the entranced audience member. Oh, how I love how one person begins and another friend continues the story! Our story bag has led to many wonderful and creative moments of adventure, sorrow, and celebration.
Inspired by the paper cuttings of Hans Christian Andersen, I have made an off-the-shoulder felt story bag. I hope your little bag of tales holds as many wonders for you as ours has.
Two 10 x 24 inch pieces of wool felt
Two 3 x 36 inch strips of wool felt for the straps
One 8 x 10 inch sheet of wool felt for the appliqué
All-purpose sewing thread to match
Pin the appliqué pattern to the 8 x 10 piece of wool. Carefully cut out the appliqué.
Fold the two large felt body pieces in half and hand-crease the folds. The folds will become the bottom of the bag.
On the front of the bag, appliqué the cut felt using a whip stitch. Work from underneath the felt appliqué to get a nice hidden stitch.
Using your sewing machine, stitch together the two felt pieces for the strap. Make sure to sew it all the way around.
Place the two body pieces together with the folds matched and the appliqué on the inside. Sew up ONLY the sides. Leave the top and bottom open, creating a tube.
Turn right side out and press seams.
Now fold the bag in half. You will have a four-ply thickness of felt. The four layers should be completely open at the top.
Now mount the shoulder strap by placing one end of the strap in the right-hand corner of the front appliqué panel. Mount the other end of the strap in the back left corner. This will let the bag hang nicely from the shoulder.
Once you have pinned the strap in place, sew up the top on both the front and back sections.
Now it is time to sew up the sides. A quilting sewing machine can handle this with no problem. For those of us who have older machines, you can take off the presser foot or you can sew by hand using small straight stitches.
Fill your story bag with prompts for storytelling and enjoy!
Valarie Budayr is the author of the book The Fox Diaries: The Year the Foxes came to our Garden. She is a mom to her three creative children, writer, photographer, gardener, crafter and an avid book lover. You can find Valarie on her blogs A Place Like This and Jump Into A Book.