Archive for April, 2013

Here I have a tunisian crochet entrelac purse.  There are patterns for this out there, but you can also just wing it.


I got my instructions on how to do “first triangles”,  “end triangles”, top and bottom ones, and squares from this book – reference at the bottom of this post.  (There is also a pattern for a tunisian entrelac bag in here, but for this bag I just put squares and triangles where I thought they should go and put this together as shown below.)  You can also search on the web for how to do entrelac tunisian, I believe there are youtube videos on it out there, but I haven’t watched them.  I wanted this book because it offers “how to”  for many different types of tunisian stitches, and it taught me the tunisian entrelac.


Construction of the entrelac bag was much easier than making the inner fabric bag, and the photo below is pretty much all there is to it.  Tunisian is always worked with the right side facing you, so you just do first triangles, middle squares, then last triangles, then once you’re done, fill in the top and bottom triangles to get your square or rectangle.  Voilà, you’ve got the front of a purse.  Then just make the back side to match in size.  For this purse, I did the sides and bottom in one long strip to wrap around and seam to the front and back pieces.  For this side strip, I just did a first triangle, then a last triangle, then a middle square between them, and repeated until it was long enough.

For the handle, I just did 8 simple tunisian stitches, attached at one side of the purse, then after 3 rows decreased to 7 and worked until it was long enough.  Then I increased back to 8 for the last 3 rows and attached to the other side of the purse.  The increasing and decreasing was just by choice, you can of course make it straight, or do as you wish with it.  Tunisian curls inward, so this naturally becomes a rounded strap as shown in the first photo.


Everything below this point is how to do the sewing for the inner cloth sack.  If you already know how to whip up a zipper bag, congrats!  You’re free!  Free like the birdies!  You just sew your cloth sack to the inside of your entrelac sack close to the zipper, and you’ve got a new purse.

Having a cloth interior will ensure that your stuff doesn’t fall out through the looser stitches of knitting or crochet.  (This is less likely through the tight stitches of tunisian, but you could still lose things like hairpins and pencils which can jab their way out.)

To make the cloth sack with a zipper, you can cut 2 pieces of cloth in a rectangle, or whatever shape you want your purse.  Cut them one on top of the other so they are the same size, and slightly bigger than the size you will want for the inside of your knit or crochet purse. (You will lose a little when you fold up the sides to seam them.)

Lay the fabric rectangles side by side with the zipper face up in the middle, oriented so that this will be the top of your purse.   Leave a little extra fabric at both ends of the zipper.   Fold the fabric edge in to be sewn under the edge of the zipper to seal it in.  It may help to pin it in place.  Wherever the inside of the zipper is will be the inside of your purse, so think about whether you want your seams inside your purse where you see them, or whether you want them between the cloth and crochet bags where no one sees them.  Think about which side of the fabric you want where, you might want the right side of your fabric to be on the inside of the bag so you see the pretty side when you look in your purse. (If so, when you set it up like the drawing below, the wrong side of the fabric should be up when zipper is right side up.)


Not what I did of course, I tend to sew things together backwards, even though I know I do that and try to watch out for it, and I did indeed do that again on this purse.  I wonder what’s wrong with me sometimes.  (Then I forget about it and go do something else.)  Here is what I will see when I look inside my purse.  I got my fabric inside out and my seams where I will see them.  I also didn’t have fabric big enough so I sewed a bunch of scrap squares together to make fabric, thus I have a whole boatload of seams to look at.


So your bag at this point should look like this drawing below from the inside (this would be the back of the zipper).  If you have plenty of fabric above and below the zipper, sew the pieces together where the red arrows show to seal up this side of the bag.


If you didn’t leave enough fabric on the ends of your zipper, you can do what is shown below.  Cut 2 more pieces of fabric and place them over the ends of the zipper, all edges folded under, and sew them on.  If your zipper really goes right to the end, you may want to cover the zipper a little with it and sew it across the zipper itself, that way you aren’t pulling the zipper off the end when you open the purse.  Hitting the zipper broke my sewing machine needle, as I did mine that way, so have some spare needles around.  (This was an idea that didn’t work out, I made the zipper go to the end because I didn’t want closed off space at the opening of my bag, I wanted all access.)


My kitteh won’t let me pose objects.  Awww.

You can see where I sewed over the end of the zipper on the inside of the bag here with white stitching, as my zipper went right to the end.

TunisianCrochetPurseInnerSackAfter that, you can just seam around the edges of the bag, (thinking about what side you want your seams to be on when you look in the purse), or you can make a side edge to add thickness to the purse as I did with the entrelac bag.  I just added a long cloth strip between the front and back to make sides and a bottom.

Now, if you want inner pockets, you can add some.  Cut a piece of cloth bigger than you want the pocket,  fold under and hem the top edge like shown.



Turn the bag so the zipper is inside out, and attach the bottom of the pocket where you will want it (to only one side. Be sure you are not about to sew the bag to itself on the back where you can’t see.).  Pin the bottom in place with the edges folded in like so and sew the bottom on.


Now fold the sides of the pocket under and sew them under with the same stitching as you use to sew the sides of the pocket to the bag.  I did some extra back and forth stitching at the tops of the pockets and ran off of the top a little so they wouldn’t pull loose if I put heavier objects in them.


Now you have open pockets on the inside.   Once your cloth bag is done, just sew it inside the entrelac bag close to the zipper, and you’ve got the finished bag.  You can use the sewing machine to sew right over the yarn, you just have to keep an eye on the foot to make sure the yarn isn’t catching on it.  You may have to lift it to release it on occasion, but it works fairly easily.


Book reference:  The New Tunisian Crochet, contemporary designs from time-honored traditions.  Dora Ohrenstein.  Interweave Press LLC, Loveland, CO, USA. 2012.

General tunisian entrelac instructions are on pg. 39.


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When I saw things such as tea cozies, mug cozies, and egg cozies, I used to wonder why on earth anyone would make such a thing, other than for quirky cuteness.  After becoming an addicted tea drinker, I now know.  It’s the weekend and I can futz around the house for hours on end, forgetting my tea until it gets cold.  A tea cozy allows you to make a whole pot of tea at one time, keeping it nice and hot for you for ages.  It IS practical!

So, here’s how to wing a tea cozy.  You want a shape that is something like a submarine.  The rounded ends are because your teapot is wider in the middle and narrower at the top and bottom.  The top rectangle lays over the lid of the pot.  You can achieve this submarine any old way you want to, crocheting or knitting; across, then upward; up and down the length; however you like – then attaching a closure at the back to hold it on.


You just sit with your teapot in front of you as you go so you can hold it up to the pot and get your sizing right.

Here are mine.  The small one was crocheted back and forth in a long strip, then a strip of crochet ruffle was added to each end and a button was threaded on to close it at the back.  The ruffle had holes in it, so made an automatic buttonhole. (This was my first one and I hadn’t thought of the over-flap yet.)

For the larger one, I crocheted 2 circles like the beginning of granny squares (but without corners).  I then held up the circles to each side of the pot so they’d come out on the front and back, then chained and double crocheted straight lines between them to connect them to each other until I had the length of the submarine shape. If your shape isn’t exactly right for your pot, just wing it until it is – you can graduate single crochet, double crochet, treble crochet etc. to make the rounded edge more square.  (You can see this near the handle in the maroon color on the big tea pot where I turned the granny circle more square – triples near the top and bottom, graduating to shorter stitches in the middle.)  I then did another row around the submarine body in blue to make it bigger and make a decorative edge.  I tied on new blue yarn to double crochet the rectangle on top, and attached crochet chains to the back as a tie closure.  Boy, since my pots were thin glass, it really made a difference in tea temperature!


For mug cozies, just make a rectangle with a closure at the ends.

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This came about because I have 3 dogs and 1 cat.  We go to the pet food store about every 3 weeks, and each trip sends me away with 2 big bags from a store that only uses paper, not plastic. (Bless their collective soul.)  Sometimes I get all the way to the car before the bag breaks and the cans roll out.  Sometimes I make it all the way home so the cans can roll down my driveway instead.  Those cans get out and run free in the street more than the dogs do.  Oh well, I like a good excuse to make something new!

Only one of my bags included crochet, so I’ll speak mostly on that one.  This is the outside, which is just made of fabric.  CrochetFabricPurse

Here is the inside, the crochet was added  after the fabric bag was finished to add strength (after realizing that dog food cans are mighty, and I wasn’t 100% sure that fabric alone would keep them contained.)


Here are the details of construction of the fabric part.  A sewing machine will definitely make this go quicker, though it can be done with needle and thread if that is your choice.


Here is how to make the crochet part.  I made it out of Arch Mesh stitch, which is my easy go-to netting stitch (reference below).  Its fast and easy, but you can do double crochet, or knit, or anything else you like for the bag.CrochetPurseNet1

To the get the size of the crochet bag, just hold it up to your fabric bag and keep going until its big enough. The crochet part is then sewn to the inside of the fabric bag (or outside if that was your choice), with the bottom resting on the bottom (line your markers up with the corners).  If you sew around the top edge of the crochet bag, not leaving any gaps, the bag will stay attached and it should prevent items from getting between the fabric and crochet.  Handles:  Once I had the bags attached to each other, wanted to reinforce the fabric handle to make sure it wasn’t going to pull off of the bag.  I grabbed a crochet hook and joined yarn to the crochet bag at the end of one handle, then made a chain for one handle and attached to the crochet bag at the other end.  I then double crocheted back along the handle and attached again back at the beginning.  I then sewed the crochet and fabric handle together along it to add strength to the handle.  Repeat for the second handle.

I wasn’t sure of the sturdiness of the sides of this fabric bag, since I made mine more flat and wide, and out of a thinner material.  If you make a deeper, narrower bag, or use a stronger material like canvas, your sides will certainly stay up.  So I sewed fabric pieces around the outside edge of the bag so that I could run a braided piece of yarn through it as a drawstring.  (Blue drawstring is visible in the first photo.)

Side note:  I decided to try my hand a quilting too since I had my machine out and I’d never done that before.  Time to get rid of some of that fabric scrap stash!   To make a stronger bag without crochet reinforcement, I sewed a bunch of fabric scraps and squares together to make 2 pieces of fabric, then placed the 2 pieces together with seamy “insides in” and cut and sewed the bag shape as shown on the construction drawing above.  (The only difference being that I pulled the corner fabric layers apart to sew the seam of both fabric pieces on the inside only so no seam showed on the inside or outside of the bag.)  I did not add any quilt material between the fabric pieces, just let the 2 layers of fabric be thick enough.  This was quicker to do than crocheting, and did make a very strong bag, (which is reversible since there are “outsides” even on the inside). That dog food’s not running down the street this time!


Arch Mesh Stitch can be found in:  The Crochet Stitch Bible.  Betty Barnden. Krause Publications, Quarto Inc. 2004. This chart was “Arch Mesh” pg. 87.

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