A bit of a stretch today - we're using up some bigger pieces of fabric today, but you will LOVE why! We're going to put your mad new crocheting skills to work to give you a designer-inspired bag. AWESOME!
I had seen various items from Anthropologie many times. Sometimes the originals, sometimes knock-offs. I love their timeless styles, and always a fresh color palette - no matter what the season. So one day, when I had to kill a few minutes between doing emails and having to drive someone somewhere, I checked out their website. Wow, everything is amazing. Like really amazing. I found several bags that I liked. Then I saw the price tag. After my dear sweet children picked me up off the floor, the Reverse Engineer who lives in the back of my brain started piping up. And quite loudly I might add - like yelling and screaming. It doesn't help that the Cheap Skate that lives in there with the Reverse Engineer was instigating...
Here is the original photo of Bag #1. It's called Lustro di Lana, which means shiny wool. I loved the simple shape, and the fun fringe where the strap attaches to the bag. It seemed to be about the right size for what I would actually use. Then I started thinking some more. I would rather have the black on the bottom instead. Better yet, it would be nice to be in color.
And here is the one we will be making. I call it Lustro di Ana.
Don't you feel like Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz, when she opened the farmhouse door after landing in Oz? Quite a difference, huh?!
You will need:
1 yard each of three different colors, your choice of colors, cotton 45" fabric
Size Q crochet hook
Large sequins if desired (I didn't so I left these off)
Needle and thread
Large eyed yarn needle
Rotary cutter and mat
Row marker (you can use a safety pin, a paper clip, or a "real" one from the store - I used a binding ring)
You can use fat quarters and jelly roll strips to make the equivalent amount of fabric strips - when you see the whole process, you can decide how to best meet this need. My color B had only 31 inches. I made it work. If you want a larger bag (this one is about 11 1/2" by 12"), and/or if you want it lined and with pockets, you'll want more than that. Your bag, your decision. You can make this all one color, or make it scrappy. You can repurpose pillowcases and old sheets, cotton fabric shirts, blue jeans.
Always start a project that uses cotton fabrics by washing, drying and pressing them. Even if they've already been washed before. It keeps your fabric fresh and will prevent colors from bleeding. Drying will shrink anything that needs shrinking. Ironing smoothes out any existing wrinkles, which will give you more accurate cutting.
So next, let's cut us some fabric yarn. I did not cut mine on the bias (diagonal). Too stretchy. For other projects, if you are crocheting fabric and you want/need stretch, cut on the bias. Today, though, we are just going to cut a bunch of 1" strips from each color. First, line up your fabric on your cutting mat. Remove selvages if necessary (you may want to save those for crocheting something else later). You will now cut 1" strips WIDTHWISE on the fabric, so perpendicular to the selvage edge. Start at one end, then move your ruler over 1".
Cut with your rotary cutter. Repeat. You should end up with 36 yard-and-a-quarter-long strips of fabric.
Let's put these in some type of usable shape here, starting with Color A. To join your stips, fold over one short edge of a strip about 1". Make a slit in the center of this fold going across the fold. Nothing too big, just a little snip. You are basically creating a buttonhole. Do this on both ends of each strip. To speed cut, hold 2 or 3 strips that are folded in half (short raw edges meeting) together. Fold your raw edges up about an inch, then snip with scissors. Watch your fingers and hand!
(raw edges left, folded edge right)
Speed cutting your strips will save you quite a bit of time.
Reserve 4 of each color for later - these will be used for the strap.
To join the strips, slide one end of Strip A up through the slit on Strip B.
Pull the tail of Strip B through its own buttonhole.
Then, just pull tight. I try to keep my knots so the little tips are towards the back.
When working with fabric that has a right and a wrong side, I insert the next strip up through the first WRONG SIDE UP.
Then, when I pull the remaining portion of the strip through it's own slit, I give it a bit of a twist and keep the RIGHT SIDE FACING UP.
Keep going until you have all your strips of each color knotted together. Also, for this project keep your colors separate. This is a good project for while you are watching a movie on a rainy Saturday afternoon. When you are done, you will have a really long fabric string. Wind it up gently into a ball.
Repeat for Colors B and C.
If you want to learn how to crochet or need a bit of a refresher, here is our tutorial from last week. I'll also be making a few references to some mnemonics we used in the tutorial, so if you don't know what on Earth I'm talking about, check back there. We are only going to add a couple little new upgrades on these skills today, so relax - you know how to do this. AND YOU CAN!
Make a slip knot. Insert your hook and chain 15. Be extra careful to keep your stitches about the same size, and don't let your chain twist. Single crochet in second ch from hook, and in each ch across - DO NOT TURN. When you get toward the last few stitches, hold the "tail" from your knot behind your chain and work your stitches around it. Just hold it up by the top of the pretzel. This will save trying to work it in later. In that last chain, your are going to make a total of 3 sc's. Don't worry, it might be tight, but they will fit.
Now, you will sc in the bottom loop of each ch back to the beginning. It's a bit tricky, so take your time.
Make 2 sc's in your original turning ch. Slip stitch to join with first sc. You just learned how to increase (more than one stitch in a space), and to create a curved base (working around both sides of your original chain). If you ever make an oval shape rag rug, this is how it starts. You will also have 32 sc's. Ch 1 (DO NOT TURN) and sc in same stitch. Put your stitch marker in the space between the ch and the sc. Sc in each ch around. Sl st to starting ch.
This is what it looks like after Round 1.
Repeat for Round 2. Move your row marker up when you start a new round. This is what it looks like after Round 2. It will start to pucker and become more bowl-like. That's ok because this will be the bottom of your bag.
Continue working rounds in this manner until you reach the end of Color A. For me it was about 5 rounds. Be sure that you count your stitches for every row. Also, as the piece begins to cup more, turn it right side out. Which is the right side? The side with the v's in the front and the bunny heads in the back.
When you have slip stitched into your starting ch of your final round of Color A, give yourself about a couple of inches of fabric strip and cut with scissors. Make a slit in the end of this strip, just like before. Insert the starting end of your next color into this slit.
Then, flip the little tail of Color B back up over the little tail of Color A. See how they intersect?
Back to your bag...
Continue working in rounds, moving your row marker up each time and keeping careful count of those 32 stitches every round. Work through all the fabric yarn of Color B, and join Color C.
Work 3 rounds of Color C. For Round 4 of Color C, you will be creating the openings to attach your handle. Ch1 and sc in same stitch. Sc in next 13 stitches, then ch 2. SKIP the next 2 scs. Sc in the next 14 sc. Ch2, skip 2, and attach to your first sc with a sl st, just like always. Round 5 works up just like the rest of the rows, except you will be making 2 sc's AROUND the chains (instead of through them, and instead of into the row of sc below). Be sure you finish with 32 stitches.
For your final row, start with the ch1 and sc in same stitch. Do 23 sc, and ch 2. DO NOT TURN. Skip 2 stitches, then work 23 sc on the other side. Ch2, and join with slip stitch to starting chain. Fasten off. Instead of the ch 2 fasten off I showed you before, only do 1 chain. Make a really sturdy knot. Leave a tail that's a good 6" long if you can. Weave the end in with the fabric needle. If desired, this would be a really good time to stitch on your sequins. You could also use other beads or paillettes.
Now for the braided handle. We'll start by making 2 long strips of each color. Join one strip of Color A to another strip of color A. STOP. Put this strip down. Now join another strip of Color A to the 4th strip. DO NOT JOIN THESE STRIPS TOGETHER. Repeat for Colors B and C.
Holding these two long strips of each color, insert the ends through the holes on the sides from the inside of your bag toward the outside.
Leave yourself a tail about 8" long.
Time to pull out those boy scout/girl scout knot skills! Make a square knot. Left over right, pull through, and tighten.
Right over left, pull through, and tighten.
Start braiding from here, and continue til you have about 10" left. Be sure to keep both pieces of each color together, and the right side of your fabric facing out.
Slide these ends through the opening you made in the top of your bag on the other side, from the inside out.
Make a knot, just like before. Snip each fabric strip in half up to about an inch below where the knots meet handle. Fluff your fringe. I tousled the fabric with my fingers then gave the bag a good shake.
And you, my friend, are done. If you want a lining, be sure to sew it into place before attaching the handle. Also, make sure that it either doesn't cover the openings for the handle, or that you make two really big buttonholes in your lining to accommodate the braid. Add pockets to your lining if you wish.
My bag used a yard of 2 different fabrics, and almost a yard of a third fabric, that I got on sale and with my teacher's discount at JoAnn Fabrics for $4.50/yard (which includes the shipping). The Q hook was purchased at Michael's with a 40% off coupon and teacher discount for $1.70 before tax. So, let's see, how much did I save? Go ahead, click the SOURCE link above, and check out the price if you haven't already. You betcha your skills have value!
Princess pointed out to me that this would make a really great beach bag. And she's right - if it gets wet and sandy, just allow it to air dry and shake out the sand. You can wash it on gentle cycle, and air dry it. Just be sure to lay it flat so it doesn't get distorted.
Enjoy your new bag. Show it off to all your friends and brag about how "designer" it is!