Sunday, July 22, 2007


Ahh, where has the last week gone? I finally had a chance to finish the small stranded bag I've been working on for the Purse Round-up KAL. I finally decided that I just wanted a long simple strap, but I had to come to terms with what was rapidly becoming my nemesis: I-cord. I don't know about you, but it drives me nuts when what seems like nice strong handles stretch out so much over time. I've even made handles that were really a little too short for a bag, knowing that eventually they'd stretch out and be about right in time. And I knew that the longer the handle style the worse the problem would be.

Well I think I've come up with a good solution for my I-cord woes. I started thinking - if plastic canvas can be used to reinforce the body of the bag - why not the handles? I had already knit a couple of feet of I-cord and I thought it might be difficult to get a strip of plastic canvas through it, but to my surprise it was actually pretty easy. I didn't try to get too wide a piece of canvas through the cord, partly because I figured it would be too difficult and partly because I wanted to allow for the yarn to shrink around it. I had to sew together three lengths of the canvas strips to make it long enough and still have a few inches left to stick out on each end. I made sure the cord was loose on it (no stitches stretched out too much) and went about felting it. After one wash one of the ends had actually worked its way up into the I-cord. I was surprised - I had assumed the cord would shrink away from the ends. It was easy enough to retrieve and I readjusted the cord on the canvas and washed it again.

Then I started on the plastic canvas and lining. I like to take a few measurements and fit the individual pieces in the bag before I start assembling. Usually I start with pieces that are a little too large and I gradually cut them down to size until they work. You can see how I angled the corners of the bottom piece (the piece sticking out on the right) to conform to the bottom of the bag.
Here's a view inside the bag with my plastic canvas "box" in place. You might notice that the sides of the box don't extend all the way down the bag. I had been planning on not doing side reinforcements at all at first. Then when I decided to attach the handles on the sides, well I had to have some extra reinforcement for them. I think the pieces I used will provide plenty of strength for the handles and I saved myself the touble of having to fit (and sew) the side pieces all the way down to the bottom.

Then I cut my lining pieces to more or less fit the canvas box. I assembled the lining by machine, but sewed it into the bag by hand. Each stitch goes through the lining, the top row of the plastic canvas, and then the bag itself. The canvas actually helps keep my stitches nice and even, since I'm making one stitch through every top hole. With the lining I made a couple of tabs for rectangular shaped rings for attaching the handles. I think it gives it a nice finished look.

I got some sewing thread to match the handles and made sure I stitched through the I-cord and the plastic canvas securely. And now for the first time ever, I have knit handles that do not stretch!!

Materials used:
  • Lamb's Pride Worsted - Amethyst, Aztec Turquoise, Red Baron, Blue Boy, and Autumn Harvest (1 skein each - in very small amounts of each!)
  • Noro Kureyon - #182 (most of 1 skein)
  • Size 10 Denise Needles
  • Size 10 Bamboo DP's
Pattern: My design

Finished measurements:

Height - 8"
Width - 10"
Depth - 2"
Handle - 37"


Sheknits said...

This bag is so gorgeous and so right up my alley. What wonderful finishing you do byu adding the plastic canvas and lining. I just won't go there with my bags...mostly because of time and I don't know how to use my $%#)@ machine. I really appreciate your attention to those details. Thanks for commenting on my bags and yes that bag that I showed unfelted (it actually 3 differnt shades of pinks) is being felted as I type this.

Diane Lovell said...

Thank you for a great tutorial! Awesome idea and the bag looks great!

Yarn Thing said...

HEY, I just used plastic canvas too for my Fur-Tacular bag...Great minds must think alike!


Brenda said...

What an awesome bag, absolutely stunning!

Knitted Gems said...

What an ingenius idea to use plastic canvas to keep the bag from drooping or loosing its shape!

Knitserland said...

I have seen plastic canvas lined bags before but never tried one. I may have to now!

Nice work, and beautiful knitting.