Monday, December 29, 2008

BPAL Felted Travel Case

BPAL Felted Perfume Bottle CaseA little over a year ago, I developed a love of Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab, an indie perfumery. If you've never tried their perfume oil, it's incredible; you can find reviews of the fragrances (and other information) at BPAL Madness, a fan forum. (Yes, a fan forum, with over 16,000 members. Yes, I said 16,000.) Go right now and pick out six general catalog scents you like. Then go and order a pack of 1 mL imp's ears!

Hooked yet? Good. You will soon have a deep-seated need to take BPAL with you everywhere. For most people, a couple of bottles or a handful of imps do the job, but that's never enough for me. In fact, I've developed a bit of a reputation for it. I'm not an addict, though; I can stop anytime. Really. If I wanted to, of course.

Anyway, I had a bit of Malabrigo Merino Worsted sitting around, left over from my lovely shawl. And I needed a way to carry my bottles, so I whipped this up while watching the Battlestar Galactica miniseries. Felted it, too, before it was finished. Total time was maybe two hours.

It will hold three bottles, or two bottles and a few imps. You can easily adapt the pattern to any size. (If you can really call something so simple a pattern, that is.)

About a quarter of a skein Malabrigo Merino Worsted
Large button
Scrap thread to baste the button in place
Size I crochet hook
Tapestry needle
Split stitch marker
Two safety pins

Before you start, lay three 5mL perfume bottles in a row on a piece of plastic wrap. Securely wrap them in the plastic, then set them aside. You'll use these to gauge the size of your case as you work and to check the progress of your felting.

The entire piece is worked in a spiral until you reach the flap, which is worked back and forth.

Crocheting the Pouch
Chain 10 stitches for your foundation chain.

Round 1: SC into the second chain from your hook. This is your first stitch. Sc1 in each stitch until the last chain. Sc3 in the last chain. Do not turn the piece; instead, continue in the round, and sc1 in the other side of each stitch, until you are back at the first chain. Sc2 in that stitch, for a total of three single crochet stitches in each end chain. (20 stitches)

Check this against your bottles; it should be about the same length as the three bottles, and just a little less than one bottle wide. Round 2 will make a case a bit bigger than your bottles, to allow for light felting.

Round 2: Ch1, then sc1 in each stitch until you reach the end of the oval. Sc3 in that stitch, then sc1 in each st until you reach the other end. Sc2 in the same stitch you made the first sc in. (24 stitches)

You are now finished with the base and will start up the sides. Place a split marker (or safety pin) at the start of the round and move it up as you work, even though you'll be working in a spiral. It makes it easier when you get to the flap.

Round 3: Sc1 in each sc. Repeat until it's about 2.5" high.

Check the height against your bottles. You want it a little less than .5" higher than your bottles when they're in the case.

Flap row 1: Begin the flap at the start of a round. Ch1 then sc1 in the first sc. Sc1 in each of the next 10 st, then ch1 and turn.

Repeat row 1 until the flap is the desired length. (Mine was about 2.5" long, which gave me plenty of overlap and placed the button in the center of the front panel.) Fasten off your last stitch, and leave enough of a tail to weave in the ends.

The Button Loop
Place your perfumes back in the case, and fold over the flap. Determine where you want the button and baste it in place; you'll sew it on permanently once the case is felted. (If you use a button with a shank, you can attach it with a safety pin.) Look at the button and figure out where you want the button loop. Mark attachment points for the loop with safety pins. (Remember that you'll be felting your piece, so make the loop a little longer than it needs to be.) Once you've got the flap marked, you can remove the bottles.

Place the hook through the edge stitch closest to the first safety pin and pull your yarn through, leaving enough of an end to weave it in. Chain a cord for the button loop. Attach the last stitch to the flap at the second safety pin, just as you attached the yarn at the beginning. Fasten off your yarn.

Before you cut the yarn, test it with the bottles again. Does the flap close and button securely? Good. Weave in your ends, keeping in mind that the felting will help hold them in place. Cut off the excess and proceed to felting. (I recommend removing the button now and sewing it back on when you're through.)

Felting the Pouch
There are excellent instructions for felting all over the internet, including Knitty, and I bet a lot of you know far more about it than I do. I used a big mixing bowl and dish gloves to felt mine, since the washing machine seemed wasteful for such a small item.

Remember how you wrapped your bottles in plastic wrap? It made them easier to work with before, but now it's essential. You need to check your progress as you felt. If you stick unprotected bottles in a wet pouch, you'll damage the labels. My Boomslang, Rose Red, and Peacock Queen bear mute testimony to this sad fact...

Once your case is felted down to size, get the water out of it (spin cycle or rolling it up in a towel and squeezing it) and put the bottles back in. Wrap the flap back into position, and leave it to dry. The button can be sewn back on once it's mostly dry.

And you're finished! The Precious will be much safer in its soft little home.

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