If you're looking for a specific size, I'd try and find a pattern for the first project. I was using the Booga Bag pattern, and I wanted it to be a bit bigger, so I just modified the number of stitches.
If you scroll to the bottom of this page
, you'll get an idea of the size that mine was pre-felting and post-felting.
Yes, the smell did go away once it dried.
I had put the bag into a zippered pillowcase in the washing machine, and every time I'd take that out to check it, the smell was overpowering! Someone suggested using a spoonful of scented fabric softener...I think they mentioned that Downy has one.
If you do a search on here, or on knitty, you'll find some good tips on felting.