You may have noticed that I love to make bags. I also love to use woven shopping baskets for my bigger shopping trips too, so as I have made lots of over the shoulder, cross body and tote style bags recently, I thought I would give a structured shopping bag a go.
I picked up some large sheets of plastic canvas whilst on holiday in the States earlier on in the year, but if you are in the UK, or elsewhere you can find them online very easily. My sheets were Plastic Canvas – 7 count – 12″ x 18″.
I am describing this as a Bargello project, but you might also call it tapestry or long stitch.
I had better mention right at the beginning here that I totally winged this project all the way through, so this is no way a ‘tutorial’, it’s more of a guide to how I did it.
To get an idea of the sort of designs that I wanted, I hunted through Pinterest to get some inspiration, and of course I was drawn towards the florals. After narrowing it down to a few, I tested some patterns out on the canvas, and found the design that I liked the best. Of course one of the joys of Bargello is that the pattern is repetitive and this floral design was easy to follow. Testing out designs with old scraps of yarn from leftover crochet/knitting projects also gave me an idea of the type of yarn that would be the right fit for this size of my canvas holes. I’m guessing at this point some of you might wonder why I didn’t use tapestry yarn. It was simply down to price. I used a cheap and cheerful acrylic yarn by Hayfield called ‘bonus chunky’. 1 x 100g ball of each of the 4 colours that I used was plenty for my project, and the colours I used were ‘grass’, ‘gentle jade’, ‘grape’ and unfortunately I have lost the label to remind me which colour I used for the lighter/mid pink shade, sorry.
Your needle needs to fit comfortably through the canvas with the yarn attached obviously. I just used an old long plastic yarn that I use for sewing in the ends of crochet projects and I liked this because it was nice and long, but I think a size 18 metal tapestry needle would be good too. I have a couple of these but they were shorter in length that my plastic needle and i just preferred to use the longer needle.
I had no real plan for how big I wanted my basket to be. So I just made the flower pattern to an appropriate size where the pattern would start and end nicely within a rectangular shape. For me, this meant that my large rectangular main pieces measure approx 16.5″ x 11″. My two side pieces again were the width to accommodate a neat pattern repeat and ended up measuring approx 5.5″ x 11″. The bottom rectangle of the bag is approx 16.5″ x 5.5″.
I chose to decorate the bottom piece of the bag with a different design. By this point I had nearly had enough of the flower design and so because the bottom of the bag won’t be seen, and for a bit of fun, I thought I would choose a different design that was easier to follow along with. I used a triangular design for the bottom, and it’s so cute! I found this design from one of my many Bargello books – ‘Bargello Magic, how to design your own – by Pauline Fischer and Anabel Lasker’.
To make the bag up, I made a long strip using one short edge of the side piece sewn to one short edge of the bottom piece. I then attached the other short edge of the bottom piece to one of the short edges of the other side piece. After this you can sew your 2 x large rectangles (that make the side pieces of your bag) to both long edges of the strip that you have just made.
I placed the right sides together when attaching the bag pieces to each other. They turned back right side out with no problems afterwards.
Before attaching the fabric lining, I popped on a set of 4 x antique brass coloured bag feet to the four corners of the base of the bag to protect the bottom of the bag. I also added the bag handles.
Finally to finish off I made the lining from some fabulous floral pink and green poly cotton from Hobbycraft. I made it using the boxed corners technique and hand sewed it through the lining fabric and the top row of holes on the bag using a kind of running stitch. I finished off the top edge of the basket with a row of single crochet stitch to give a neat finish all the way around the top edge.
I hope that this all makes sense – it’s quite hard to describe something that you just made up as you went along! It actually worked out so well, and I’m chuffed with it.
It’s back to my normal dressmaking next week on the blog, so until then, take care and I’ll see you soon,