Author Archives: Dora Ohrenstein

  • Half Medallion Bag Crochet-Along: Adding Handles, Seaming, and Finishing the Bag

    How exciting to be nearing the finish on this project! I'm thrilled with the finished bags I've seen so far, and very happy people are succeeding with this project.

    Today I'd like to discuss making the flap for the handle, attaching the handle to the bag, and then joining the front and back with a slip stitch seam. The flap is simply a piece of fabric we make along the top edge of both the front and back of the bag. It will fold over the handle and then be attached to the inside of the bag near the top edge. For the bag to hang correctly from the handle, the flap must start out the same width as the top edge of the bag. It needs to be long enough to fold over the handle and reconnect with the top of the bag again.

    [Editor's note: click here to see two wooden purse handle options--perfect for this bag--that are available on LionBrand.com.]

    First, join yarn to the right top edge of either the front or back piece, not at the very outside edge, but one row in, before the all-bobble row (row 17), in other words, at the beginning of row 16. Work evenly spaced single crochet stitches along the top of the bag (32 stitches in all), ending at the end of row 16 on the left side. In my original, the handle is very close to the same size as the top edge of the bag, so I decreased only once, on row 3, to make it a bit smaller. Rows 4 - 6 are the part of the flap that will fold over the handle and are worked even. In the pattern, the decreased stitches are added back again on row 7. Here's a look at my finished flap:

    Flap

    Several people in the CAL group on Ravelry have used handles that are not as wide as mine. If you want to go that route, you can still work the flap as in the original. When you fold the flap over the handle, the fabric will gather a little, which is perfectly OK. Or, you can make the flap a bit smaller by decreasing at each edge of the handle on rows 2 and 4, working two stitches together at the beginning and end of each row, just as is done on row 3. Work row 5 even, then make sure you add on the stitches again by making an increase on each end on rows 6, 7 and 8, ending with 32 sc on row 8.

    Once you've completed the flap, fold it around the bottom of the handle, then pin it on the insider to the bottom of the first row of the flap. With a tapestry needle and yarn, sew the flap down to the inside of the bag. Then do the same exact procedure for the second handle on the bag's second side. It's a lot easier to do this before connecting the two sides of the bag--trust me!

    Seaming the bag

    Our last step is joining the front and back. It's done with a simple slip stitch seam, worked from the Right Side of the bag. I generally prefer to seam with the Right Side of the work facing, so I can tell exactly how my finished seam will look.

    What's important in making a nice-looking slip stitch seam is 1) matching stitches on the two pieces to be joined 2) controlling tension on the slip stitches. Hold the Front and Back together with their Right Sides facing out. Using safety pins, pin them together at a few points - each end, the center, and a couple more. To begin your slip stitch seam, leaving a tail of about 6" (which will be used to secure the seam), draw the yarn through the first stitch on the front AND back pieces.

    Slip stitch

    Now insert the hook into the 2nd stitch on both pieces, yarn over, and draw a loop through. Depending on how tightly you pull the tension of the yarn as you draw it through, the slip stitch will be larger or smaller. You want it to be just slightly tighter than the tops of the stitches you are working into, but just a bit. If you make the slip stitches too tight, it will distort the edges of the bag. Use your eye as a guide. Work your way all around the bag in this manner, and after the final stitch, end off leaving another 6" tail. You'll see that the seam is visible and rather attractive, in my opinion.

    Finished seam

    The beginning and end of this seam will get a certain amount of wear and tear, every time you open and close the bag. For this reason, it's wise to make the ends very secure and tight. Place one tail on a tapestry needle, and work a short little seam along the top edge connecting the bobble on the front to the bobble on the back. You can make the stitches here tight and close together, as they should disappear into the fabric. Reinforce the last stitch by working into the same place 3 or 4 times, then weave in the end securely. Repeat on the opposite tail and voila! You're done!!

    I hope you enjoyed making this bag, and that you'll get even more pleasure from using it!

    Related links:

    Tagged In: Read More
  • Half Medallion Bag Crochet-Along: Lining the Bag

    Like many other crocheters, items that require sewing skills with needle and thread can be daunting to me. To find a no-sew way of lining this bag, I consulted my friend Leslie who is an expert sewer and finisher. She suggested the two items that make this lining easy: felt for the actual lining, and Stitch Witchery, which is a type of fusible interfacing, or, in plain English, a super thin material that melts into glue when heat is applied. Black felt comes in 9 x 12" sheets at many craft stores. That size should work with this project. If your half bag is larger than the specified measurements, you can buy felt by the yard in many fabric stores. Stitch Witchery is also widely available. Here's what you should do before making the lining of the bag.

    Before making the flap for the handles, steam each half bag piece into its final shape and dimensions. This kind of blocking will work on wool, and even on acrylic in many cases. Remember not to directly touch your iron to the acrylic. I recommend this technique instead of wet blocking, as the latter may alter the bobbles and posts more than is desirable in this design.

    Once you have the final shape, the next step is to cut the felt and Stitch Witchery into the same shape as half the bag. There are several ways this can be done. In the accompanying photos, you can see how the bag was pinned to the interfacing, and used as a guide for cutting it, then the interfacing was used as a guide to cut the felt.


    Cutting felt

    If you prefer, you can use chalk to trace the outline of one side of the bag on the black felt. Or, you can cut a piece of paper to match the bag and use that as a pattern to cut the felt to size. Any of these methods is fine, so use whichever you find easiest. After cutting the felt, trim it down by about 1/2" all around. Then cut the same shape in the Stitch Witchery. You should end up with two half medallion pieces of black felt and two pieces of Stitch Witchery, all the same size.

    The next step is to get your iron ready for steaming. Carefully place the Stitch Witchery between the felt and the bag.

    Lining up Stitch Witchery

    Apply steam slowly and carefully, allowing the Stitch Witchery to melt and the felt and bag to fuse. Keep in mind that too much heat and pressing will cause the bobbles and post stitches to flatten, so go slowly and gently until the fusing happens.

    Fusing

    After you've done this, you can puff up the bobbles and posts by hand. Follow this procedure for both sides of the bag. Once this is done, you can make the flap at the top of each half, for attaching the handles to the bag, which we'll discuss next week.

    Editor's note: For those who would prefer a traditional sewn lining, please follow the directions in the pattern for tracing out your fabric lining and sewing it in.

    Related links:

    Tagged In: Read More
  • Half Medallion Bag Crochet-Along: Working the Front Post Stitches

    CAL badgeAs most of you know, post stitches are not worked into the tops of other stitches, but rather are worked around the post of a stitch in a previous row. By being worked in this manner, they tend to be raised from the surface of the work and can therefore be used to create some very interesting textures, such as basketweave. In this bag, the treble and half treble post stitches frame the bobbles.

    Remember to work these stitches fairly loosely, so that they don't pull the work out of shape. You can experiment with your tension until they look right. Please remember, there is no "right" or "wrong" when it comes to tension on these stitches, just trust your eye! When they lie nicely on the surface, not pulling at the work, they're just right.

    In the first series of Front Post Stitches you encounter in this design, you have two post stitches worked into the same stitch. You mark the stitches in row 4 so you can find them when it's time to do the post stitches in row 6. You wrap the yarn the indicated number of times -- 3, since it's a treble stitch -- and insert the hook from front to back and then out the front again in the indicated stitch, then finish the stitch as usual.
    Front post treble crochet
    Front post treble crochet complete
    Then you work the specified number of hdc before working the second FPtr, which goes into the same place as the first. Make sure you skip an hdc where instructed to do so. To place the second post stitch correctly, insert your hook BELOW the point where the earlier post stitch was made, as shown in the photo here.
    Second post stitch
    The next Post Stitches occur in row 8. They are worked around the posts of the earlier post stitches, which are very obvious. Note that they are half trebles, and are worked off as described in the Special Stitches instructions.
    Front post half treble crochet
    The third group may seem a bit tricky, because you are working two FP stitches together. Keep in mind, however, that it's just like any other instance when you are working two stitches together: insert the hook where indicated, work off 2 loops on the first FPtr leaving the last loop on the hook, then insert the hook in the next indicated stitch, work off 2 loops, then yo and work off all the loops. Again, these should be worked quite loosely.
    Crochet 2 front post treble together
    Decrease complete
    Some people have noted that the post stitches don't seem to frame the bobbles on their projects. It's possible that this is caused by miscounting of stitches on previous rows. Pay attention in particular to which stitches are skipped in the rows before, as this will also affect the alignment of post stitches. As mentioned in the last lesson, it's important to count stitches at the end of every row, and check that each half of the row is a mirror of the other -- this will insure that your bobbles and posts are in the correct place.

    When I worked the project, my bobbles were nicely framed by the post stitches, and in one or two cases I moved the post stitches by hand around the bobbles. Feel free to do this if necessary (as in this example below).
    Moving stitch

    Related links:

    Tagged In: Read More
  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. Previous