Making crochet bags is definitely an addiction and once you get hooked you start looking at all bags with different eyes. I’ve just started to explore using crochet embellishment to upcycle unloved vintage bags and baskets and I’ve been really pleased with the results…
This upcycled vintage wicker shopper belonged to my mum. She had obviously thought it was past its best so had it in her store room filled with light bulbs. It had a nasty plastic lining that was faded and brittle. Otherwise it was in good condition for its age – it must be 1970s at least. The outside has an attractive weave and with a few snips at the stray bits of frayed wicker, it was a nice bag.
All that it needed was a new lining and a bit of decoration so I chose a cotton lining fabric with a retro design and then picked out some similar colours in Stylecraft DK and set about putting together a mandala. I didn’t use a pattern and its a bit freestyle but when I added it to the front of the bag and then sewed in the lining, it was surprising how good it looked.
I think I finished it around March and have used it a lot since. Its a handy stash bag (to add to the collection!) and its also good for carrying heavier things such as my laptop, which fits in nicely, or even using as a shopping bag.
A bargain car boot sale find
During my regular jaunts off to the car boot sale and antique market up at York racecourse on a Saturday morning during the summer I’ve been on the look out for more bags like this but they seem to have become quite desirable and I’d almost given up hope when I spotted this at a sale during May. I asked how much and the seller said £1 – but looked as if I had really pushed it would have accepted 50p. It would have probably ended up at the tip on the way home!
So home it came with me and sat in my office/studio while I pondered what I could do with it. I’ve no idea how old this bag is but its made of the same type of wicker and was in a similar condition with the brittle plastic lining. The shape is good and it has longer handles than my first project.
Once the lining was out and the cotton used to sew it in had all been removed, I then took it outside on a warm day and wiped it thoroughly and left it to dry out. Again, the bag wasn’t in bad condition and the colour of the wicker was even.
Making crochet buttons…
The theme for the upcycle for this bag came from a project I was preparing for the Craftsy crochet blog – on how to make crochet buttons. The Craftsy projects I’ve been doing are a lot of fun but its nice to be able to use the end products for something when the tutorial and photos are done.
My regular Pinterest browsing and research on button themed projects led me to a lovely fabric seller on Etsy who had a fat quarter of a gorgeous button print cotton in lovely summer colours. All of this came together and I settled on doing an upcycled button bag.
…inspires a button-themed bag
I used the button fabric to make the lining as a shallow box and then tapered the sides to follow the shape of the bag. This wicker was quite tough and although it was easy to sew on the button decorations through the gaps, my first attempts at sewing the fabric lining directly to the wicker looked very scrappy and I wasn’t happy at all.
I left the bag for a couple of weeks while I concentrated on doing the button tutorial but realised that even with quite a few crochet buttons, the bag was going to look too bare. I considered making a crochet cover for the entire outside of the bag, to overlap at the top so that I could attach the lining but I decided it was a shame to cover up the wicker completely. I liked how it looked just with the three large crochet buttons on the front.
The solution came to me late one evening, which meant crocheting feverishly at stupid o-clock again, but it was worth it.
The scalloped crochet edging between the lining and the top of the wicker enabled me to attach the lining more easily and it added some crochet ooooomph to the bag. This was a simple strip of two rows of double crochet with a petal border done in Stylecraft Chunky in Fondant to match the fabric. Once that was in place I added the cotton crochet buttons I’d made for the Craftsy tutorial around the top of the lining.
To make the handles more comfortable and also more decorative I used the same shade of Stylecraft Chunky yarn and made two partial handle covers, just by doing 5 rows of double crochet and sewing them over the wicker.