From Trash to Treasure- from cashmere coat to bag

A beautiful cashmere coat full of moth holes was destined for the trash until is was given to me and given a new life as a bag, and who knows what else with the left over piece. The unlined coat and matching belt felted easily in the washing machine, going from a size 16 to very snug size 6. All the little moth holes disappeared in the process of felting, leaving a dense, sturdy felted cashmere fabric ready to cut.

cashmere bag finished

It took a couple days of thinking before cutting into the fabric. I did not want to be wasteful in how the fabric was used and I also wished to use some of the sewn elements to advantage in the bag design.

cashmere bag with coat

The fabric for this bag was cut from the lower front corner of the coat to include a side seam with a pocket. The side seam can be seen as the seam that runs horizontally about 2″ below the top edge and is accented with a line of couched yarn above it. The pocket in the seam is on the back side of the bag. The flap closure is made from one end of the belt.

cashmere bag 1

First, a rectangle of fabric was cut from the coat. And then some lovely bamboo/silk yarn was couched next to the coat’s side seam as a decorative element.

The two short sides of the rectangle were stitched together to form an abutted join and this was covered with binding by couching down yarn along both edges of the binding.

cashmere bag 2

A view inside the bag reveals the back side of the bag’s side seam, the coat pocket (cut down in size to fit the bag), and the seams at the bottom of the bag. The bottom seam is a 1/2″ seam pressed open and then both corners were stitched across and trimmed to give the bottom a boxy shape.

cashmere bag 3

The pictures above show how the abutted join seam was made on the bag, but since I forgot to take pictures of this step, it is being shown on a lighter weight piece of scrap felt. The one side seam in the bag is an abutted join so as to not have a bulky seam that would distort the shape of the bag. To make the abutted join, a piece of fusible woven stabilizer is ironed to one of the short sides on the wrong (back) side. Then the fabric is folded with right sides together and the other short side is squeezed up tight to the side with the stabilizer and the stabilizer is iron into place on the second side. Turn it right side out.

cashmere bag 17

Fold the fabric along the seam and stitch with an overedge zigzag. It will look like the picture on the right when laid flat, before the seam is pressed.

cashmere bag 3A

Turn it wrong side out and press the seam flat.
cashmere bag 4

The above picture is a close up of the top edge of the seam with the binding attached, showing the flat abutted seam covered with binding.

cashmere bag 5

A 2″ strip of fabric (same as binding) equal in length to the long side of the felt rectangle plus an 1″ (2x 1/2″ seam allowance) is backed with fusible woven stabilizer. The ends are sewn together with a 1/2″ seam allowance and then sewn to the top edge of the bag.

cashmere bag 8

A strap made of the same material as the binding for “side” seam and top edge is cut and stitched to make a 1″ wide strap for the bag. It is cut to 4″ width, folded in 1/2 length wise and pressed. Next, each side is folded in half toward the center fold line and pressed. The strap ends up being four layers thick. It is stitched along both edges and down the center. Each strap end is stitched to the binding on the top of the bag, centered at each side.

cashmere bag 6


Now for the lining. Sigh, I wish I had remembered to take more pictures, but I didn’t, so a little explaining has to be done. The lining is made with pocket to fit items I like to carry, but it could be just a simple lining with no pockets. The main thing I had to remember is that the lining needed to be an inch longer on the long side than the felt outer fabric to accommodate a 1/2″ side seam. I forgot, and had to cut another piece of liner.

This lining is actually the liner plus another decorative fabric that is slightly shorter in height that is stitched to the liner to for pockets. The decorative fabric is cut to the same size as the lining, but the top edge is double rolled and stitched to create a hemmed edge.

The two fabrics are then stacked together with rights sides up* and vertical lines are stitched to created pocket. A horizontal stitching line a few inches above the bottom gave the pockets a shallower depth so that items would not sink to the very bottom of the bag.

*Note: in the picture below, the wrong side of the lining fabric is being used as the right side since it is satin darker and closer in value to the satin decorative fabric.

A gap was left in the side seam that is slightly wider than my hand (for turning the bag right side out later).

cashmere bag 7

 At the top of the side seam, a fabric loop with a D-ring is stitched in place. A D-ring is a handy place to clip things like keys to so you don’t have to search the bag for them.

cashmere bag 9

The bottom was stitched with a 1/2″ seam just like the outer felt fabric. Above, In the first picture, the side seam opening is shown. With the seams ironed open, the bottom corners are stitched 1″ in from the tip. The tip is cut off leaving a 1/2″ seam allowance which is finished with an over-edge zigzag stitch.

cashmere bag 12

With right sides together, the lining and the felt outer fabric are stitched together using a 1/2″ seam allowance.

cashmere bag 10

After sewing the lining and the outer fabric together, I realized that I forgot a couple things, so I had to do a little backtracking and add the strap that closes the bag. I seam ripped a section in the seam for the strap, inserted and stitched it in place.

Oh, the strap- nope forgot to take pictures of how it was made. It was easy enough. I lobbed off one end of the belt that came with the coat. Attached one side of a magnet catch then covered the back with some of the binding/lining fabric. Yarn was couched to the front side of the strap for decoration and to stitch the back fabric in place.


cashmere bag 11

Next, the other side of the magnet catch had to be attached to the front of the bag. I had to turn the bag right side out, position the strap where it looked good, and gently pushed down so the magnet half on the strap left an impression on the felt bag. The impression was where the other half of the magnet catch needed to be positioned.

The picture above shows magnet catch on the inside of the bag. I added a piece of thin plastic between the magnet backing and the felt to help reduce  the stress to the felt by the pulling on the magnet every time the strap is unsnapped.
cashmere bag 18
In the pictures below, you can see how the bag was turned right side out. I reached into the lining opening and grabbed the bottom of the felt bag and pulled it through the opening.

cashmere bag 13

The lining is pushed down into the bag and the top edge is pinned and basted before being top stitched. The seam is topstitched by couching yarn along the seam in on the outside.

cashmere bag 14

The outer pocket is the last detail. I had basted the pocket opening shut so it had to be seam ripped open. Next, a button is stiched to the front of the pocket and a loop is stitched above the pocket opening. The button was salvaged from the coat.

cashmere bag 15

Ta da! The finished bag- front and back. The color of the bag is closer to true in the first picture at the beginning of this post.

cashmere bag 16

There is plenty of left over fabric for several more projects. I wonder what is next? Another bag? Any suggestions?



4 thoughts on “From Trash to Treasure- from cashmere coat to bag

  1. Finally, I can have the time to look at your beautiful work. The photos are so clear and steps written up nicely. I can almost feel the softness of the material from the pictures alone. The lining inside really pops the soft colour of the cashmere….and I think the key rind “D” inside the purse is a great idea. Lovely work, and I know it will be enjoyed by yourself on many trips out and about.

  2. Coming back to say, this is a very dressy looking bag. I think it could be used anywhere and be admired. 🙂

  3. Pingback: Cashmere Handbag- for a friend | eccentricquilter

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