One of my favorite flowers is the hydrangea. While the many different colorways are simply stunning, I think what I like the most about them is the texture I see when I look at the bunch of little flowers all together. I like this flower so much, I picked it to be my wedding flower. I’ll be crocheting a variation of the one from this tote bag for it.
Originally, I was playing with a floral theme for this design, but I wasn’t sure just what I wanted to make. I thought about an afghan similar to the 3D rose ones you may have seen, but with my interpretation of the hydrangea. I started with one square, and then a bunch of ideas hit me – afghan squares are so versatile!
One thing I liked even more than the thought of a blanket of flowers was a tote bag that I could use to carry around a WIP (work in progress) in, especially since my current bag was ready to be retired.
As far as the lining goes, in the past, I have crocheted other tote bags that I chose not to line, and I ended up really disappointed with how much they stretch, so I made sure with this one that I added a lining to the bag itself, and the strap. My sewing skills are pretty basic, and I prefer doing everything by hand rather than using a machine, but I decided to try it on my sewing machine, and while it didn’t turn out perfectly, it is something I am proud of.
If you don’t want to work a whole tote bag, you can use this pattern to make more of a clutch by simply subtracting rounds on the bag body, and then create a little flap to hold your goodies in, or you could add a zipper.
Finished bag body measures 12.75” (32.39 cm) wide – when flattened – by 15” (38.1 cm) tall, and strap measures 2.5” (6.35 cm) wide by 37” (93.98 cm) long (before sewing). Bag designed to hang at side, with top around natural waistline on a person 5’5” (165.1 cm), but sizing can easily be adjusted
Finished bottom panel before sewing measures 10.88” (27.65 cm) wide by 2.63” (6.68 cm) tall.
Red Heart Super Saver Yarn (100% Acrylic; 364 yards [333 meters]/198 grams): E300_316 Soft White (CA), 1 ball; E300_512 Turqua (CB), 1 ball; E300_624 Tea Leaf (CC), 1 ball.
You’ll need the full skein for the bag itself (the white). The other colors only require a small amount – maybe 65 yards each.
H8/5mm Crochet Hook
Stitch Markers, or Waste Yarn
Tapestry Needle for Weaving in Ends & Sewing Strap End
Optional for lining:
- Sturdy Bag Bottom, 10.88” (27.64 cm) Wide by 2.63” (6.68 cm) Piece of Stiff 7 Mesh Plastic Canvas (or Craftweight Interfacing)
- Sewing Pins
- Sewing Machine or Sewing Needle
- Matching Sewing Thread
- Less than 1 Yard of Felt (or Other Fabric) – Craft Felt Fabric from JoAnn’s used in the Sandstone colorway
1st Square: 4.75” (12.07 cm)
In BLO Pattern (Body of Tote Bag): 17 SC by 15 Rows = 3.88” (9.86 cm)
In HDC Pattern (Strap): 5 HDC by 11 Rows: 1.38” (3.5 cm) Wide by 3.75” (9.53 cm) Tall
In SC Pattern (Bag Bottom): 40 SC by 10 Rows: 11” (27.94 cm) Wide by 3.5” (8.89 cm) Tall
Please see our standard abbreviations.
Plt – pull loop through (joining method) – we detail how to do it below
Sc3tog – single crochet three stitches together for decrease
Sl st – slip stitch
To plt: pull up on current loop (so it doesn’t fall out), insert hook from right side through corresponding stitch of previous square, grab loop with hook, tighten as normal, and pull through, then continue to work next stitch
When working in the round, traditionally, you hold your initial tail to the back of the ring, and then crochet over it. In these squares, the side you see while you are working is actually the wrong side, so to hide the tail, you will work the first stitch as usual, then pull the tail over to the side facing you, and work over like this.
I like to split my beginning increases to help keep my seam more unnoticeable. For the squares, you will work the first stitch of the first increase as usual, and then the last stitch of the first increase into the same as the first stitch, working over the beginning chain.
I recommend weaving in your ends as you go (or at least in close sections) because it’s easier to reach them all, rather than wait until the end.
The pull loop through (plt) method is my favorite for joining because I don’t have to do any sewing, and it gives a fun look and texture to the seam, but if you don’t want to use this method, you can make all of your squares following the instructions for the first square, and then sew them together in a strip using your preferred method.
Plastic canvas piece in the bottom panel is optional. This is used to make the bottom of the bag sturdy. Alternatively, you can use a piece of craftweight interfacing in place of the plastic canvas, or you can just join the two panels together without anything in between.
If you are adding the plastic canvas (or interfacing), keep in mind that it will be cut smaller than the actual panel to avoid interference when working the panel join.
The bag body is worked in a continuous round, meaning no slip stitch join at the end of the round, to avoid a seam. Use a stitch marker, or piece of scrap yarn to mark the first stitch of each round.
If you choose to slip stitch join at the end of the round instead, it will produce a moving seam, and change the overall height of your bag.
Adjusting the length of the strap (or bag body) is really easy – simply add or subtract rows as desired. One full skein of color A (the soft white) will complete the bag as written, more rows to the strap (or bag) will require an additional skein of yarn.
I designed this bag so the top of the bag opening would lay around my natural waistline, and the actual bag would be around hip level when the strap was on crossbody wise. I planned this out knowing I would be lining my bag. The lining is optional, but keep in mind that heavier items in the bag without it lined will cause the bag to stretch A LOT. You will need to keep this in mind if you choose not to line your bag, maybe adjusting the number of rounds to the bag body, or number of rows to the strap. You can test the stretch by pinning the strap end in place, and then placing items in the bag while you wear it.
I found it easiest to measure my strap before sewing it in place. If you make a different sized bag (shorter/longer bag body or strap), OR if you did not meet gauge/used a different weight yarn, and you want to add a lining, you will need to measure the bag. Lay bag flat, and measure both length and width of bag, as well as strap. Cut felt 0.25” (0.64 cm) smaller than given measurements because you don’t want the lining to show over the crocheted stitches, with the exception of the strap length, which I added 1.5” (3.81 cm) to so the strap lining would overlap with the bag lining.
In the sewing world, you would sew the entire bag lining together first before sewing it to the rest, but I did not do it this way because my sewing skills aren’t as good as my crocheting skills, and I found it easier to do it the way explained below. I also choose felt because it is one of the easiest fabrics to work with because it does not fray, which means there is no need to fold the edges over, and sew down first. Fleece is another good option. If you choose a different fabric, like cotton, you will need to add a seam allowance of about 1” (2.54 cm) to your bag measurements in all directions before you cut the fabric so you can fold over the raw edges, and sew so the fabric doesn’t fray.
To cut lining, you can either make your own template out of tissue paper to the necessary measurements, then pin onto your fabric, and cut out, or you can use a fabric pen/chalk/pins to mark cutting lines on fabric. Because the bag is for me to personally use, I cut the second way.
Tote Bag Instructions
Round 2: Ch 1. Sc into the 1st st, *(tr, sc) into the next st, rep from * 8 more times, tr into the 1st st. Join. (20 sts)
Round 3: Ch 1. Sc into the 2nd st, tr into the next st, *(sc, tr) into the next st, sc into the next st, (tr, sc) into the next st, tr into the next st, rep from * 3 more times, (sc, tr) into the next st, sc into the next, tr into the 1st st. Join. (30 sts)
Round 4: Ch 1. Sc into the 2nd st, tr into the next st, sc into the next st, *(sc, tr) into the next st, sc into the next st, tr into the next st, rep from * 8 more times, tr into the 1st st. Join CC (Tea Leaf Green) and fo CB (Turqua). (40 sts)
Round 5: In CC, ch 2, and turn. (2 dc, ch 3, 3 dc) into the 1st st, ch 2, sk 4, 3 hdc into the next st, ch 2, sk 4, *(3 dc, ch 3, 3 dc) into the next st, ch 2, sk 4, 3 hdc into the next st, ch 2, sk 4, rep from * 2 more times. Join to the 2nd ch with CA (Soft White) and fo CC.
1st Square ONLY, Round 6: In CA, ch 1. Hdc into the 1st 3 dc, *(2 hdc, ch 3, 2 hdc) into the next ch sp, hdc into the next 3 dc, 2 hdc into the next ch sp, hdc into the next 3 hdc, 2 hdc into the next ch sp, hdc into the next 3 dc, rep from * 2 more times, (2 hdc, ch 3, 2 hdc) into the next ch sp, hdc into the next 3 dc, 2 hdc into the next ch sp, hdc into the next 3 hdc, 2 hdc into the next ch sp. Join, and fo. (68 sts)
For the other squares, you’ll connect them while finishing the outer round.
2nd – 5th Squares ONLY, Round 6: In CA, ch 1. Hdc into the 1st 3 dc, 2 hdc into the next ch sp, ch 1, working from behind: sl st into the previous square’s ch sp, ch 1, (hdc into the same ch sp of the current square, plt) 2x, (hdc into the next dc, plt) 3x, hdc into the next ch sp, plt, hdc into the same ch sp, plt, (hdc into the next hdc, plt) 3x, hdc into the next ch sp, plt, hdc into the same ch sp, plt, (hdc into the next dc, plt) 3x, hdc into the next ch sp, plt, hdc into the same ch sp, plt, ch 1, from behind: sl st into the previous square’s ch sp, ch 1, rest in current square: 2 hdc into the same ch, *hdc into the next 3 dc, 2 hdc into the next ch sp, hdc into the next 3 hdc, 2 hdc into the next ch sp, hdc into the next 3 dc, (2 hdc, ch 3, 2 hdc) into the next ch sp, rep from * 1 more time, hdc into the next 3 dc, 2 hdc into the next ch sp, hdc into the next 3 hdc, 2 hdc into the next ch sp. Join, and fo.
6th Square ONLY, Round 6: In CA, ch 1. Hdc into the 1st 3 dc, 2 hdc into the next ch sp, ch 1, *working from behind: sl st into the previous square’s ch sp, ch 1, (hdc into the same ch sp of the current square, plt) 2x, (hdc into the next dc, plt) 3x, hdc into the next ch sp, plt, hdc into the same ch sp, plt, (hdc into the next hdc, plt) 3x, hdc into the next ch sp, plt, hdc into the same ch sp, plt, (hdc into the next dc, plt) 3x, hdc into the next ch sp, plt, hdc into the same ch sp, plt, ch 1, from behind: sl st into the previous square’s ch sp, ch 1, 2 hdc into the same ch, hdc into the next 3 dc, 2 hdc into the next ch sp, hdc into the next 3 hdc, 2 hdc into the next ch sp**, hdc into the next 3 dc, 2 hdc into the next ch sp, ch 1 rep from * to ** attaching the 6th square to the 1st square. Join, and fo.
Optional, plastic canvas bottom (or interfacing)
Cut one piece of stiff plastic canvas to 69 holes by 15 holes [or interfacing to 10.38” (26.37 cm) by 2.38” (6.05 cm)]
Bottom – Make 2 panels
Row 1 (RS): Ch 41. Sc into the 2nd ch, and across. (40 sc)
Rows 2 – 10: Ch 1, and turn. Sc into the 1st sc, and across. Fo 1st panel, not 2nd.
Join bottom panels
Lay one panel down WS facing up, then lay the canvas on top, and then the other panel with WS facing down.
Working through both layers and using the yarn from the 2nd panel (the one you didn’t fo), sc into the 1st 39 sts, 3 sc into the last st, evenly sc 8 down the side, 3 sc into the next st, sc into the next 38 sts, 3 sc into the next st, evenly sc 8 up the side, 2 sc into the 1st st. Join, and fo with long tail for sewing.
Attach bottom to bag body
Turn the square strip of panels to the wrong side, and lay with 3 squares across. The corner center join is one stitch. Count from here to the left 7 stitches, and place a marker. Now count from center join to the right 7 stitches, and place another marker. Mirror this on the other side of the bag. You can pin the bottom corners to these marked spots for ease in sewing. Evenly sew bottom to the bag (I used a whipstitch), keeping in mind that there aren’t an even number of stitches.
Bag body – worked in a continuous round
Round 1: Attach yarn into any st after a ch sp. Ch 1, sc into this st, and the next 16 sts, sc3tog over the next ch sp, center join, and next ch sp, *sc into the next 7 stitches, sc3tog over the same 3 sts, rep from * 4 more times. (108 sc)
Round 2: In blo, loosely sl st into the 1st st, sc into the next 107 sc
Rounds 3 – 38: In blo, sc into the next 108 sts
Round 39: In blo, sc into the next 7 sts, in both loops, join to the next. (7 sc)
Lay bag flat. Counting in 4 stitches from the edge (on both sides), place a marker. You should have 4 markers in total – 2 pairs 8 stitches apart.
Rows 1 – 100: Ch 1, and turn. Hdc into the 1st st, and across. (8 hdc)
Fo with longer tail for sewing. Break loop from last stitch, and sew at markers on the other side of the bag.
Weave in ends.
Take time to measure your bag. It should measure as follows: strap is 2.5” (6.35 cm) wide by 37” (93.98 cm) long, and bag laying flat is 12.75” (32.39 cm) wide by 15” (38.1 cm) tall. If your bag DOES NOT measure this, see pattern notes for cutting fabric. If your bag DOES measure this, cut felt to 2.25” (5.72 cm) by 38.5” (97.79 cm) for strap, and 12.5” (31.75 cm) by 14.75” (37.47 cm).
You can use a sewing needle and matching thread to hand sew using a basic running stitch, or you can carefully use your sewing machine with the stitch length set to normal for sewing the lining sides together, and the longest setting when sewing the lining to the crocheted work.
Fold the strap lining in half, and mark the center. Unfold, line the center of the strap lining up with the center of the strap, and pin in place, then pin outward. Sew in place with a 0.25” (0.64 cm) allowance (means this measurement away from the edge of the fabric). Set aside.
Fold bag lining in half hamburger style (so even in half, it’s the squarest it can be), and sew bag lining sides closed, also with a 0.25” (0.64 cm) allowance.
Place bag lining inside of bag. Use your fingers to press open the side seams, pin these sides in place first, then pin the rest of the bag lining the top of the lining up with the bottom of the last round of crochet. Make sure the bag lining is on top of strap lining where strap measures bag body. Sew in place using the same 0.25” (0.64 cm) allowance.
ABOUT THE DESIGNER: ALEXANDRA RICHARDS
Alexandra is described as a “craft, coffee and cat addict”.
Though she has always been a crafty person, she picked up needlepoint on plastic canvas in 2006. In 2015, she learned to crochet, and began her blogging journey as EyeLoveKnots, named in honor of family members affected by Retinoblastoma – a cancer of the eye.