Last year, I got together with a few friends and spent most Friday nights in November and December crafting. What started as just another idea turned into the most fun I had had in a while, with impressive results and a lot of handmade presents. There were decorated wooden blocks, crocheted Christmas puddings, papercrafts, and enough plum and fig jam to last some of us all year!
I got more crochet done than I expected, and even managed to sell a few decorative items. Despite a whole lot of good intentions, I started slacking immediately afterwards though, so instead of getting obscenely rich by selling those Christmas puddings at every church fair this year, I’ll have to start from scratch again. Of all the things I made over the last few months, this bag for my niece is my favourite:
After my daughter’s granny blanket, this is only the second project I’ve freestyled. Usually I can’t get far without a pattern, but a bag seemed straightforward enough. I’m very pleased with the result, and the few things that I could have done better can be easily incorporated into the ones that all the other little girls in my life will be getting this year. Now, my bag is not so unique as to deserve its own copyrighted pattern, since there are probably patterns around for pretty much the same thing. I had a look at a lot of crochet websites and ended up mixing aspects of different designs, cherry picking my favourites. If you want to be on the safe side, you’ll find a properly written pattern quickly enough (Crochet Me and Lion Brand are always good for browsing), but if you want to personalise your present a bit, let me tell you how I did it.
- First, decide which granny pattern to go with. There are whole books written on the subject, but again, the internet is your friend for free and cheap ideas. I was tired of the plain squares and found a pattern for flowery squares in a magazine. (Easier to access, and even prettier, are these squares from Le Monde De Sucrette.) Have a good look around until you find a pattern that is perfect for your project. Anything square goes!
- If you’re more patient than me, make more than the twelve squares I used for my bag. Once you’ve figured your square pattern out, they should be done quite quickly, but then there’s always that pesky, time-consuming sewing. Twelve squares crocheted with a 3.5 mm hook should make a bag about 8 inches wide and 6 inches high. Perfect for little girls and grown women with uncluttered lives.
- Sew the squares together to make two 2 x 3 panels.
- With your main color, make any number of chain stitches to form the desired width of your strap. Turn, and beginning with a chain, single crochet into each stitch. Keep going until your strap is long enough. This is where my impatience got the better of me, and time and wool were running out. Do make it long enough! Ideally, you should make a strap to go over the shoulder of the wearer. Mine’s shorter, but the bag is still cute.
- If you’re a perfectionist, you might want to line the bag with fabric. I have no idea how to do this, so I didn’t. The gaps in my granny squares weren’t too big, so things will stay inside the bag even without lining.
- Slip stitch, single crochet or sew the strap to your panels. I sewed them together to make it neater. It’s easy enough to see the corresponding stitches on both panel and strap, and the seam will be as good as invisible. Start on the top corner of one panel and go around, then do the same on the back of the bag. Use safety pins to make it align properly.
- Slip stitch, single crochet or sew the ends of the strap together.
- Lastly, sew a button to the front of the bag and crochet a short chain on the back to make a loop. This will help the bag stay in shape, especially if you don’t line it with fabric. Depending on the yarn, crochet work can be quite floppy, and you want your bag to look presentable. Also, it’s practical, and you get to use a button. You know you want to!
It’s probably bad luck to give an empty bag as a gift, so put something in it. This has the added bonus of padding your bag and showing it in its full glory. Bags of sweets are a winner for nieces and the like, whereas a crocheted purse would be an opportunity to show off even more when giving your bag to an adult. (Remember to put a coin in that, because it’s bad luck not to…)
Happy hooking, crochet-minded people! You’ll make someone very happy with your crafty presents.