The pattern and tutorial on how to make the main part of the rainbow tote bag is here! You can also now buy the Limited Edition pack of Stylecraft Special DK from Deramores at £9.99 per pack 🙂 If you buy after going to their site through my link I get a few pennies commission to help support my blog 🙂
Follow this link for the pattern and tutorial for the tote bag handles and this link for the pattern and tutorial for the rosette decorations. You can also check out the tutorials on waistcoat stitch and crab stitch in more detail.
Rainbow tote bag pattern notes
The bag is worked in the round from the top opening downwards. You will be using a stitch called waistcoat stitch or the split single crochet stitch (this name refers to the sc in US terms, which is the double crochet or dc in UK terms). The base is worked as an oval and then seamed.
Lining is optional but gives a better finish to the bag.
The handles are crocheted in standard double crochet and reinforced with piping cord before being sewn onto the bag. The rosettes are used for decoration but also to hide the slight seam that is unavoidable, giving you a bag that looks perfect on both sides.
What you’ll need
- Your pack of Stylecraft Special DK Limited edition colours, 50g in each. Colours: boysenberry, fuchsia, lobelia, kelly green, cypress, mustard, empire, duck egg, grass green, pistachio.
- One ball of Stylecraft Classique DK cotton in a coordinating colour (I used plum), for the handles. This is optional. You can make the handles from the yarn in your DK pack if you prefer.
- Lining materials (optional): the bag has a close weave texture so you may choose not to line. I lined with a coordinating cotton fabric and inserted a small oval pad of table protector to make the base more sturdy.
- 6mm piping cord to reinforce the handles.
- Crochet hooks: 5mm hook, 3.75mm hook (or 4mm if your crochet tension is naturally quite tight).
- Darning needle and scissors.
Stitches used and abbreviations
This pattern is written in UK terms. The equivalents in US terms are in red after each:
- Chain (ch)
- Slip stitch (sl st)
- Double crochet (dc) [US: single crochet (sc)]
- Waistcoat stitch (work a dc into the V of the dc stitch of the previous round)
- Half treble (htr) [US: half double crochet (hdc)]
- Treble (tr) [US: double crochet (dc)]
The rainbow tote bag pattern
Using the 5mm hook, make a foundation chain of 100 chains and join with a slip stitch. You will work the bag in the round and your work will progress from the top of the bag to the bottom.
This is a summary of rounds 1-3. More detail about rounds 1-3 follows under the summary.
Make two chains then work a treble into the next stitch and then into each stitch of the foundation chain. Be careful not to twist the chain as you work. When you reach the end of the round, join to the top of the first treble with a slip stitch. [100 stitches]
Using the same colour, work a double crochet in between the posts of each treble.
TIP: Keep the double crochets quite loose – you are using a larger hook than the DK yarn requires, but do not be tempted to work with a tight tension. Everything should be very relaxed for this round. When you reach the end of the round, join with a slip stitch into the top of the first dc stitch. Fasten off but do not weave in the end. [100 stitches]
Change the colour of your yarn (see the chart for the yarn order I used, or feel free to invent your own colour order). Note – continue using your 5mm hook!
Join your new yarn through the V of one of the double crochet stitches just to the left of where you finished round 2. As you continue working you will stagger your start points for subsequent rounds to the right and to the left but with an overall slant to disguise the seam as much as possible.
Pull through a loop and make a chain very loosely. This first stitch is just to attach the yarn and will be pulled out at the end of this round and replaced by a standard double crochet.
Work your first waistcoat stitch. Insert your hook through the V of the next dc stitch. Make sure your hook goes deep within the base of the dc stitch. Yarn over and pull through giving you two loops on the hook. Then yarn over and pull through both loops to complete the stitch.
Work around making a waistcoat dc stitch into each stitch, pushing your hook in between the Vs of the stitch, not through the top loops. I took this photograph when I was a little further along, so that it is easier to see what you are aiming for.
Keep your tension even but not tight. If you make the stitches too tight, you won’t be able to get your hook into the correct V of the stitch in the next round.
By working waistcoat stitch into each V, you will create a dense crochet fabric that looks very much like knitted stocking stitch (stockinette).
When you reach the end of the round, carefully pull the first joining tail end to remove the first joining chain stitch. Make a waistcoat stitch dc into the V of that stitch and then join to close the round by making a slip stitch into the first waistcoat stitch you made. Work the slip stitch into the V , not into the loops at the top of the stitch. [100 stitches]
Repeat round 3, changing to a different colour for each round. Your stitch count will remain the same – 100 stitches in each round. You use your 5mm hook for all rounds.
I used all 10 colours 6 times each. This is my colour order but feel free to create your own.
- Duck egg; cypress; lobelia; mustard; boysenberry; grass green; fuchsia; pistachio; kelly green; empire
- Lobelia; mustard; boysenberry; kelly green; cypress; empire; duck egg; pistachio; grass green; fuchsia
- Lobelia; kelly green; mustard; grass green; empire; boysenberry; pistachio; cypress; fuchsia; duck egg
- Lobelia; grass green; duck egg; boysenberry; fuchsia; empire; mustard; cypress; kelly green; pistachio
- Boysenberry; cypress; duck egg; lobelia; fuchsia; kelly green; grass green; pistachio; empire; mustard
- Fuchsia; pistachio; lobelia; kelly green; empire; duck egg; cypress; boysenberry; grass green; lobelia
When you have completed 60 rows, you should have something that looks like this (I took this just before I added the final lobelia round. It will be a tube of dense crochet fabric. I did think at this point that this pattern is a bit multifunctional – if you crocheted a border at the bottom it would make a pretty and very warm neck cowl for winter 🙂
The above photo shows the ‘best side’ the photo below shows the side with the seam. No matter how careful you are about starting, finishing and weaving in your ends, you will see some slight irregularities at the points where you start and finish each round. I arranged my starts to be staggered and to slant down at an angle. The seam is not too obvious but the rosette decorations will make them disappear completely do don’t worry!
Finishing the top of the bag with crab stitch
The border at the top of the bag is a simple one. To give a neat and tidy and sturdy edge, make one round of crab stitch using fuchsia.
Check out the tutorial for crab stitch here.
Completing the bag base
Change to fuchsia and complete one round of waistcoat stitch. Do not fasten off. You will complete the next 6 rounds in this same colour [100 stitches]
At the end of round 1, place a stitch marker and then continue into the first waistcoat stitch of round 1. You will be effectively working in a spiral (so do not join the rounds with slip stitches)
*Work eight waistcoat stitches. Decrease in the 9th and 10th stitches.** Repeat from * to ** until you reach the marker. [90 stitches]
Move the stitch marker up so you know where the start of your round is. Work waistcoat stitch all round in each stitch. [90 stitches]
Move the stitch marker up. Starting in the first stitch of round 3, *work seven waistcoat stitches followed by a decrease in stitches eight and nine**. Repeat from * to ** until the end of the round. [80 stitches]
Move the stitch marker up so you know where the start of your round is. Work waistcoat stitch all round in each stitch. [80 stitches]
Move the stitch marker up. Starting in the first stitch of round 5, *work six waistcoat stitches followed by a decrease in stitches seven and eight**. Repeat from * to ** until the end of the round. [70 stitches] Close the round with a slip stitch and fasten off.
Change colour to boysenberry. Work waistcoat stitch all round in each stitch. [70 stitches]
Starting in the first stitch of round 7 *work five waistcoat stitches followed by a decrease in stitches six and seven**. Repeat from * to ** until you reach the end of the round. [60 stitches]
Work waistcoat stitch all round in each stitch. [60 stitches]. So not fasten off.
This is what your bag will look like. Fold it so that the staggered seam is close to one side.
Turn round 180 degrees so the bottom of the bag is at the top. With the bag in this folded position, add two stitch markers using yarn in a colour that will stand out at the two opposite edges of the base.
Making the seam to close the bag
Turn your work inside out. Using your 3.75mm hook (or 4mm hook) and still using boysenberry, hold your bag base together with the two stitch markers at the edge. Starting at the first marker, join the two edges by making two standard dc stitches in the spaces between the waistcoat stitches of round 9. Work through both loops of both sides, so through four loops in total.
Fasten off leaving a long tail. For extra security you may want to sew along the whole length of the seam as you weave in the tail end.
Make and attach the bag handles
Click here for the pattern and tutorial for the bag handles
Attach the bag handles to the bag, sewing them in place with the same colour yarn as the base of the handles making sure that you space them evenly. I attached my handles seven stitches in from either side, and positioned the bottom of the handle to line up with the base of the seventh row of waistcoat stitch.
Make and attach the rosette decorations
Click here for the pattern and tutorial for the rosettes
I positioned only four rosettes (from top; pistachio, boysenberry, lobelia and kelly green) along the seam line to disguise it so that the bag looks good form all angles. I also liked the pop of colour that they provide. Each is sewn in place using the central tail end of the rosette. The stitches should weave along the edge of round one so that the outer round of the rosette is free to curl up slightly.
You could go wild and add as many rosettes as you like!
Lining your bag
This is an optional last step. The bag is very dense and looks good from both sides.
But a fabric lining always gives a nice finish. If you want to line the bag, cut an oval to correspond to the base of the bag from table protector. Sew this in place inside the bag base to make sure the base keeps a good shape.
To make a fabric lining, make a simple rectangle slightly larger than the bag to allow seam allowances, hem at the top, then sew a small seam across the two bottom corners to give some extra volume at the base. Hand sew the lining into place, joining it with coordinating sewing thread (not yarn) to the first row of waistcoat stitch on the inside of the bag.
You can also now buy the Limited Edition pack of Stylecraft Special DK from Deramores at £9.99 per pack 🙂 If you buy after going to their site through my link I get a few pennies commission to help support my blog 🙂