Welcome to the first week of the Crochet Designing Challenge: Bags and Totes! Whether this is your first crochet design or you’ve designed projects in the past, this challenge will help you learn everything you need to know about creating crochet bags and totes. I’ll share educational information each week to help you design your project. I’ll also give you prompts to complete to keep you on track in creating your crochet bag!
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Before we move on, if you’ve never designed a crochet project before, I highly recommend reading these two articles on designing crochet:
How to Become a Crochet Designer
Basics of Designing Crochet
Let’s Talk Shapes & Sizes & Types of Crochet Bags
When it comes to designing crochet totes and bags, the possibilities are truly endless! There are no hard, fast rules when creating these items like there are with other crochet designs. For instance, when designing a crochet garment, you must be mindful of sizing and the standard measurements for various body types. However, with a crochet tote, there are no standards to hold you back!
However, it would be best if you considered a few things when designing your bag. The first thing to consider is the shape of your bag. Crochet bags come in so many shapes, all affecting the size of the finished design. Each shape has its own unique structure and is suitable for different purposes. Have you considered the shape you want your bag to be? Let’s discuss some of the common shapes we find in crochet bags. This list isn’t an extensive list, but it will definitely get you started with your first design!
1. Tote Bags:
The tote bag is one of the most common shapes for crochet bags. Totes are usually rectangular or square-shaped, with long handles. They’re perfect for carrying groceries, books and could even be used as a beach bag. Some standard sizes for tote bags are small (13 in by 13 in), medium (16 in by 16 in), and large (18 in by 18 in).
Tote bags are typically designed to be lightweight yet durable, making them a perfect design for everyday use. They can easily be folded and put away when you’re not using them. I think crochet tote bags are the most versatile and easiest to design. You can use various colors to match your style and add embellishments like buttons, beads, or embroidery to add eye-catching detail.
2. Shoulder Bags:
Shoulder bags are much like the tote bag but on a smaller scale. These bags are meant to be thrown over your shoulder and usually include only one handle, hence why it’s called a shoulder bag! These bag designs are ideal for carrying small essentials like keys, your phone, and Chapstick. Chapstick is always essential for me! Think of shoulder bags as the perfect “I’m running to store” bag! Shoulder bags can come in many different shapes, and the most common size for shoulder bags is 11 inches wide by 9 inches in height with a depth of 3 inches. You want it to sit about mid to lower torso like most shoulder bags.
3. Crossbody Bags:
A crossbody bag is a handbag designed to be worn across the body, with the strap running from one shoulder to the opposite hip. This allows the bag to rest on the hip, leaving the hands free for other activities. When it comes to shapes for these types of bags, let your imagination run wild! You can use different geometric shapes to create some really neat designs! Crossbody bags typically have a long adjustable strap, allowing you to customize the length to fit your body. The interesting thing about crossbody bags is there are no “common” sizes for the bags themselves. The emphasis is more on the length and width of the strap! However, be mindful of the size of the bag. You don’t want anything huge bouncing on your hip and twisting you up while you’re dealing with a toddler throwing a tantrum!
4. Clutch Bags:
A clutch bag is a small handbag designed to be carried by hand or under your arm. It typically has no strap or handle and is held closed by a clasp or zipper. Most clutch bags are rectangular, and the most common size is 7 inches wide by 14 inches in height. Clutch bags are often used for formal events, such as weddings or cocktail parties, but can also be dressed down for more casual occasions. Clutch bags are usually compact and can hold small items like credit cards, cash, keys, and, let’s not forget about your Chapstick! You could also design interior pockets for added organization. Some designers will create a small wristlet strap, which takes the design to another level!
5. Market Bags:
Market bags are reusable shopping bags and are larger than the common tote bag. Market bags are ideal for carrying groceries, produce, or other shopping items. Market bags are eco-friendly, which reduces the need for plastic bags! These bags are typically designed with an open, mesh-like structure that allows for flexibility and breathability, which makes them perfect for fruit and veggies! Not only are market bags flexible and breathable but they are also designed to be durable. They have to have the capability to carry heavy items without stretching too much or breaking. Many designers find they can make their bags more durable by crocheting a solid bottom using single or half double crochets. This is the perfect bag to work in the round!
Crochet backpacks are a unique handmade alternative to the traditional backpack. It also can be the most challenging design of all the totes and bags I’ve mentioned. When designing your backpack, take into consideration the specific purpose it will be used for. Will you use it as a project bag? To travel? To take on hikes or travel? Knowing the purpose will help you decide how to proceed with its design. Backpacks can be designed in various shapes and sizes depending on their use. Backpacks are usually designed to be sturdy, with two adjustable straps and a grab handle. If you’re up for the challenge, then designing a backpack is the way to go!
What Kind of Yarn to Use
Just like there are no hard and fast rules with the shape and size of your crochet bag design, there are no hard and fast rules with the kind of yarn you use either. However, not all yarn is created equal! A handful of yarn fibers work better for bag and tote designs than other fibers.
When choosing your yarn, take these four things into consideration:
Strength: The yarn you use should be strong enough to support the weight of what you’ll be carrying in your bag or tote without stretching it too much or breaking it. Choosing a strong yarn also helps to ensure that your bag will maintain its shape and structure over time.
Durability: Whatever fiber you use for your bag, take its durability into consideration. You’ll want something that can endure the stress of frequent use, machine washing and drying, and environmental exposure. You’ll want your bag to be durable so you can use it for years to come!
Weight: The weight of yarn refers to the thickness of the individual strands that make up the skein. Yarn weight ranges from 0, a lace weight, to 7, a jumbo weight. Depending on what KIND of bag you choose to design will determine the weight of the yarn you use. More delicate bags can use the lighter weight yarns, whereas the heavier weight yarns are best for the not-so-delicate bags!
Color: The color of the yarn you choose will impact your finished design. Choosing the right color can really make the stitches you use for your project stand out. When selecting a yarn color, consider your bag’s purpose. A beach bag, for example, would best be worked up in light, bright colors to reflect the sun and heat, while an elegant clutch would require a classier subtle color.
Yarns I Use For Bags and Totes
Dishie: 100 % cotton worsted weight yarn. Extremely durable yarn with so many color choices. Check it out HERE.
CotLin: A cotton linen blend that is durable but feels so good to crochet with! This is a DK weight with lots of color choices! Check it out HERE.
Find more cotton/cotton blend yarn from KnitPicks HERE.
24/7 Cotton Yarn: This yarn is 100% cotton yarn and is one of my favorites to work with! LB has a DK weight, which you can find HERE and a worsted weight, which you can find HERE.
Basic Stitch Anti-Microbial: This recycled polyester, Amicor blend is one of the best yarns to protect against bacteria and allergens, which makes it great to use for bags and totes! Check it out HERE.
Pima Cotton: This 100% cotton worsted weight yarn is truly the most versatile yarn when it comes to bags! Check it out HERE.
Cotton, Bamboo, Linen: The best of three fibers in one skein! This is a size 2 (sport weight) yarn. The downside to this yarn is there aren’t a lot of colors to choose from. Check it out HERE.
Lazy Days: This yarn is 100% polyester and is so fun to crochet with! This is a perfect yarn to create shoulder bags and zipper pouches with! Check it out HERE.
Scheepjes Cotton 8: This is a fingering weight yarn, but it is 100% cotton! I love to use this for smaller projects like pencil pouches or coin purses. Check it out HERE.
Omega Sinfonia: This 100% mercerized cotton yarn is a DK weight and comes in a good variety of bright colors! Check it out HERE.
Red Heart with Love: This is a worsted weight yarn acrylic yarn that is super durable and versatile. This yarn also comes in a ton of colors. Check it out HERE.
Many of the yarns I listed above are on sale as of the writing of this article. Go check it out HERE!
Challenge to Complete This Week:
If you’re starting out in designing crochet, it would be well worth your time to read my HOW TO BECOME A CROCHET DESIGNER and BASICS OF DESIGNING CROCHET articles. These articles give you a lot of information to start you off in the right direction!
The first assignment for this week is for you to decide what TYPE of bag you want to design and the shape you’d like to create! If you have difficulty deciding, recreate your favorite purse, handbag, or wallet! Please don’t limit yourself when it comes to creativity! Remember, the possibilities are endless! This week is going to be all about research! Head to Walmart or Target and look at all the different bags and totes they have. And I mean, REALLY look at them. Study how they’re constructed and ask yourself, “How could I crochet this?” Take pictures of all the shapes you’re drawn to so you can refer back to them when you work on your next assignment.
The second assignment for this week is to sketch your design. Once you have an idea of what you want your bag or tote to look like, get that idea on paper. Draw its shape, making sure to note the dimensions.
Dimensions to Note in Your Bag Design
These measurements will be KEY for next week’s assignment!
Your last assignment for this week is to gather your supplies! Figure out what fiber you want to use for your design and what hook size you’d like to start with. Of course, in the design process, everything can change! You might not like working with the yarn you chose, or the hook size isn’t giving you the texture you thought. It happens to every crochet designer!
If you plan on ordering yarn online, you won’t know exactly how much you’ll need for your design. You could certainly guestimate, which I don’t recommend. I normally order a skein or two, then work my crochet math magic to figure out an estimated amount of yarn I’ll need for my design. Once I have that estimate, then I’ll order all my yarn! I’ll teach you this math magic next week!
Assignments for this week:
- Decide what TYPE of bag to design and the shape
- Draw out your designs with its dimensions
- Decide what yarn and hook size you’ll use and gather your supplies
Don’t forget that each week during this challenge, I’ll be sharing insider tips and tricks to help you complete the challenge! Make sure you SIGN-UP today!