Sunday, August 11, 2013

Brand New Bag

In my last post, I mentioned a purse I was working on.  Actually, over the past three weeks, I've been sort of simultaneously working on three new handbags.  I've been trying out some new techniques, new designs, new label ideas, new handle and strap ideas.  It's been time consuming, but I am happy with the results and I've learned some things about handbag construction that I can use in future projects.

I tried out two variations of a new design that I've named the Petal Burst Purse.  I based it on a round, crocheted flower pillow pattern that I found on the Attic 24 blog.  I tweaked the design a bit and squared it off .  It is a cross-body strap bag, a little over seven-inches square. Both variations are fully lined.

This one, I did in a sock-weight yarn with jewel-tone bright, self-striping colors.

This second one I did in a heavier, thick and thin, wool blend yarn. The colors are more muted -- they aren't really pastels, but remind me of the shades in a bucket of sidewalk chalk.

One of the things that I experimented with in making these bags was the lining construction.  I wanted something with more body than just a plain, single piece of fabric lining.  I also wanted the right side of the fabric to be on the inside of the bag, but also on the outside of the lining, so that where it peeks through the crochet, it looks good.  What I ended up doing was cutting two of each lining piece.  I bonded medium weight, iron-on interfacing to the wrong side of one of each of the lining pieces.  I put the second lining pieces over those with the interfacing, with the wrong-side of the fabric-only pieces against the interfaced-side of the first pieces -- sort of  a sandwich, with the interfacing in between.  I then used each set of lining pieces as though it were as single piece of cloth.  This achieved the effect of a fabric with two right sides, and gave a nice sturdy body to the lining.

Here is the assembled lining of the chalky colors Petal Burst Bag before I inserted it and sewed it into the purse.

As you can see, I also double-folded the edge of the lining and stitched it down, so there is no danger of the edge fraying once sewn into the crocheted outer bag.

Here you can see the linings, after they've been hand sewn into each of the bags.  Notice my new Gossamer Tangles label, which I created by purchasing printable silk fabric sheets with iron-on backing.  I designed the labels on my computer, printed them out, cut them out, and ironed them in.

As you've probably noticed, I also decided to sew the zippers onto the outside of the bags. (I saw this idea used by Erika Knight, on a clutch featured in her book Simple Crocheting: A Complete How-to-Crochet Workshop with 20 Projects (2012).) I wanted the zipper to become part of the overall visual expression of the purses, so I chose zipper colors that matched one of the colors in the yarn in each bag and sewed them on using embroidering floss in another color picked up from the shades in the yarns.

The one other thing that I tried with these bags was a new strap design.  I wanted a crocheted strap that would be strong enough and thick enough that it would not stretch unreasonably from the weight of a full purse.  After making a string of chain stitches of sufficient length, I double-crocheted in each chain then turned at the end of the row, and for the next row, I double crocheted in the front loop only of each stitch all the way across.  When I reached the end of the second row of double crochets, I simply folded the piece in half, so the back loops of the first row of double crochets formed one edge of the strap.  Then I slip stitched along the open edge.  I was very happy with the result.  This strap will not stretch and lose its shape when the bag is full.

The other hand bag that I made is more of a tote style purse.

It is crocheted in a pattern called the Catherine Wheel stitch.

The bag has a single loop button closure and is roughly fifteen inches long, nine inches deep, and three inches across.

The yarn I used is a cotton angora blend -- very soft with just a bit of fuzziness to it.

The bag has a distinct, flat bottom piece, which made creating a lining a challenge, but I used the same technique that I used for the Petal Burst Bags -- using the interfacing, and creating a multi-layered fabric with two right sides.

As you see in the photos, I decided to used leather handles for this tote.  I played around with different ways to attach them, and in the end, decided that the best option was to sew them on with heavy-duty thread, stitching through all layers of the bag, and providing further security by stitching into felt circles in the lining.  I then covered the thread with a layer of the same yarn that I used to make the body of the bag.  Since the yarn covering is also stitched through the crocheted outer bag, it is yet another means of making sure the handles are securely attached.

I think now that I've finished these handbags, I am ready to go back to making jewelry for a while.  Maybe a necklace ....  As I've said before, I never like to make the same thing twice.  But I will definitely apply some of the techniques I worked out in making these bags when I return to making purses again.

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