You may have already seen my first Tapestry Crochet Purse that I made around Christmas 2001. As March 2002 progressed and the days started to become a bit longer, I felt it was time to start work on another one, in colours more suitable to the upcoming warmer weather (here in North America).
I chose three colours of cotton worsted yarn that went well together, made a quick swatch to practice my Tapestry Crochet skills, and came up with a game plan. I would make this bag wider than previous version, add an inner pocket, and attach the strap in a different way.
- cotton worsted yarn in 3 colours - 150 g (5 1/4 oz) of a dark colour, 100 g (3 1/2 oz) each of a medium colour and of white - I used jade green, iris (light purple) and ecru (a nice creamy off white)
- hook in size suitable for your yarn, I used 4.00 mm (US G or 6)
- gauge - as long as the fabric is firm rather than flimsy, you're fine
- zipper, velcro or other closure mechanism
- finished size is about 14 inches (35 cm) wide by 11 inches (28 cm) tall, excluding handles
- Body of Purse - With Dark colour, ch 40.
- Tapestry crochet with dark colour, and carrying medium colour, sc in 2nd ch from hook, and in each ch til end. In last ch, work 4 sc total.
- SC in each chain again, this time along other side, ending with 3 new sc in last chain (total 4 sc in that chain). Never slip st to first st to join round anywhere in this pattern, unless specifically directed to do so. You've just completed your first round - more like an oval. :) Note: If the little nubs of your carrying colour start showing up through the front, don't panic - it's supposed to look like that.
- Continuing with tapestry crochet, ch 1 for first sc, and continue to work a sc in each sc of previous round. At both ends (where you first made the 4 sc), work 2 sc in one sc, work one sc, then 2 sc in next sc again.
- Repeat previous round, working an additional sc between the two sets of 2 sc at each end, til you've worked 7 rounds total (14 ridges across the width of the piece). This completes the bottom of your purse.
- Change to medium as you working colour and white as your carrying colour, work 8 more rounds, sc in each sc of previous round. Do not make any extra sts at the ends. This begins the body of the purse.
- Change to white as you working colour and dark as your carrying colour, work 5 rounds, sc in each sc of previous round as previous.
- Using dark as your working colour and medium as your carrying, work 3 rounds.
- Working white over dark, work 5 rounds.
- Working medium over white, work 8 rounds.
- Working dark over medium, work 7 rounds. Drop the medium, and work a slip stitch in the next couple of sts, break yarn and finish off.
- At this point, depending on your gauge, you'll have to used up almost a whole 50 g (1 3/4 oz) ball of white, a ball and a half of medium, and a little over a ball and a half of dark.
- Strap - With dark, ch 280. Yes, you read that right, two hundred and eighty.
- Add medium as your carrying colour, and making your first tapestry sc into the very first chain worked, work your way around the strap. Be especially careful not to let it get twisted. Once stretched out, each end of this big loop will be attached to the bottom of the purse, a few inches in from the edge, then up the front and back of the purse, leaving a loop at the top of each side to use as handles. Think hockey bag or duffle bag and you'll get the idea.
- Continue to work in this manner, again without slip stitching rounds together, til the strap is 5 rounds wide (or more if you prefer). For those keeping track of such things, somewhere during the construction of the strap, I broke into my third ball of dark yarn. It ends up being about 82 inches (2.1 m)around.
- Outer Pocket - With medium, ch 21. Add white as the carrying colour and work across one, then the other side of your base chain. Do not add any extra turning chains at the ends. You should have about 40 sc in your first round.
- Continue working a sc in each previous sc for 5 rounds altogether.
- Change to white over dark and work 8 rounds.
- Change back to medium over white and work 5 more rounds.
- Using dark over medium, work 3 final rounds, drop medium and sl st one or two sts at the end. Break yarn and finish off. Scorekeepers make note, you'll have broken into your second ball of white during construction of the pocket. The pocket is just shy of 6 inches (15 cm) square.
- Inner Pocket - Knock yourself out! Choose a regular crochet stitch, whichever you like best, and whichever colour yarn you prefer, and create a suitable sized rectangle for your inner pocket. It doesn't have to be worked in the tapestry crochet stitch, in other words in the round like the outer one, since it won't be in plain sight. If you're a perfectionist however, go ahead and make an inner pocket in the same manner as the outer one, in whatever size suits your needs.
- Assembly - First, using dark (or whichever other colour you have lots of) sew your inner pocket, along the two sides and the bottom, to the inside of the back of your purse, within a couple of inches of the top edge. Try to avoid the area where the strap will be attached. Trust me, your life will be much easier this way. :)
- If desired, place a big book, binder, clipboard or similar item into the bag to help it keep its shape while you work. Locate the ending of the last round of your handle and also the point exactly opposite at the other end of the loop. Centre each of these points across the bottom of the purse, the strap going front to back across the underside. Place one nearer the left and one nearer the right edge, about 2 or 2 1/2 inches (5 - 6.5 cm) from the outside edge. Leave enough room to attach the outer pocket later! Sew in place along each side of the strap, to the dark coloured bottom of the purse.
- Next, sew along each long edge of the handle to attach it to the sides in the same manner, straight up the front (and back) of the bag, going up to within a inch or two (2.5 - 5 cm) of the top edge of the purse. You can adjust this to suit your own preference.
- If desired, along top edge of handle, bring edges under towards each other, and sew or slip st together for a few inches. This would make it more comfortable to carry as a handbag. Leaving it flat (as is) would be best for over the shoulder use. It just barely fits over my shoulder when the strap is done on 280 sts.
- Attach your front pocket centred between the straps, over top of them if needed, but not too near the bottom of the purse. It looks best if the stripes don't line up anywhere with those on the body of the purse. If desired, before attaching the pocket to the purse, sew a spot of velcro to each side near the top to allow it to stay securely closed.
- Lastly, attach a zipper, velcro or your chosen closure to the top of the bag. Done like dinner!
- If you've never tried this method of crochet before, there's a great book you can get: Tapestry Crochet.
- Be sure to swatch to get the best colour combinations. I personally prefer a light coloured working yarn and a darker carrying yarn, but you may feel differently. Of course, it also depends on the amount of yarn you have in the different colours if you're trying to use up your stash. I always use a dark colour on the bottom on any purse I make since I'm a drop it on the floor kind of gal. :)
- You could make this bag in as many colours as you like. Just keep switching around the carrying and working yarns as you go.
- You can easily adjust the size to suit you. The thing to be most careful of is the handle - too long or too short and it just doesn't work.
- Any pockets are of course, optional.
- Bear in mind, for tapestry crochet, the stitches must appear the same on every row, and that means always work in the round, including any outside pockets.
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