Tapestry Crochet Purse
I'd been having an awful time trying to find a purse I liked. I first settled for a microfibre design that was fairly close to what I wanted. After a few weeks, I couldn't stand it anymore. Touching the material was like chalk on a blackboard to me.
I next headed out in search of a leather or vinyl alternative. I guess microfibre bags are cheaper to make and / or more popular, because roomy leather or vinyl handbags were few and far between. I was getting to the point where I was considering using a backpack! But I went for a semi reasonably priced vinyl purse, still not quite right. After a couple of weeks, I realized it was just too heavy and the opening wasn't quite big enough for me to get a good look inside when digging around for keys, ID, etc.
Finally, I realized I could make something much better myself. The size I want, in the colours I want, with a nice big opening, more like a small tote bag then a purse. So, out came the yarn bag and crochet hook. I chose a couple of yarns that went together, and decided to try some of that Tapestry Crochet I'd been reading about, but hadn't tried yet. And away we go...
- at least 300 g worsted yarn (10 oz) in 3 colours - a main colour, a primary neutral, and a contrast (or secondary neutral)
- 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
- Body of Purse - With Main colour, ch 36.
- Tapestry crochet with main colour, and carrying secondary neutral, 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 start showing up, don't try to tidy it up - it's part of the character of tapestry crochet.
- 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, one sc in next 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 6 rounds total (12 ridges across the width of the piece). This completes the bottom of your purse.
- Continuing with same colours, work 8 more rounds, sc in each sc of previous round. This begins the sides of the purse.
- Change to using primary contrast for your working yarn, and main colour for carrying, and work 23 rounds of sc in each sc of previous round.
- Switch back to using main colour for your working yarn and secondary contrast for your carrying yarn, and work 14 more rounds the same.
- Again using primary contrast as the working yarn and main for carrying, work 9 more rounds as above.
- Drop carrying yarn and using primary contrast only, work one round slip stitch all around top of bag. Slip st to first st in round to join. End off.
- Handle - Chain 168 sts. Using tapestry crochet method, use main colour as working yarn and secondary contrast as carrying yarn. Starting with 2nd ch from hook, sc in each chain. When you reach the end, bring up the other end of your chain and continue around, working into sc of first round. Keep going til you have about 12 rounds completed. End off. Yes, this should look like a big, flat, loop. :)
- Assembly - Attach zipper, velcro or your chosen closure to the top of the bag.
- Place a big book, binder or similar item into the bag to help it keep its shape while you work. Find the beginning / ending of the rounds of your handle. Centre it along the middle of the bottom of the purse. Sew along each long edge of the handle to attach it to the purse bottom. Then attach the sides in the same manner, going up as far as the first or second round of the second main colour / secondary neutral stripe (about two thirds of the way up the side). 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.
- 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.
- You could make this bag in two colours - a main and a neutral. Just keep switching around the carrying and working yarns when directed to change colours.
- 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.
- I've made a small pocket to attach to the outside, but haven't yet decided (as I type this) whether I'll go ahead and attach it or not. You might want to do the same thing. I made mine 20 sts wide.
- Bear in mind, for the stitches to appear the same, you must always work in the round, including any pockets. And yes, that's why the handle is a big loop. :)
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