Cathy’s Classic Handbag- Make It For Me!

Thank you to ELK Studio for putting together this Make it For Me event! what a nice way to kick off the new year, after months of crocheting gifts for everyone else it is time to rejuvenate and focus a bit more inward and create something for you! (Check out the entire list of month long projects here)

I am thrilled to be able to join this event with my Cathy’s Classic Handbag. It is made with less than one skein, so you can reach into your stash. I even provided two options for handles…I really like the wooden round handles, but reality…I enjoy crocheting and getting to the craft store or even ordering on line means I am not finishing it the same day I start, so I provided a crochet handle option too. (If you want to learn how to attach the wooden handles, I have some instructions to help you here).

This handbag was inspired by one of my students. Cathy always has a smile and carries herself with a rural, country chic charm. She brightens the room no matter what her day may have contained, and to get all dressed up I could see her with this classic style.

Cathy’s Classic Handbag by: Linda Dean

A classic handbag that is fast to work up and has a lot of charm. A bit of stretch and a bell shape add to this great purse. With optional handle options you can utilize a simple round wooden handle or crochet your own. 

Skill Level: Advanced Beginner

Finished Size Approximately: 7”x 16” (18 x 40.5 cm)

Gauge: 12 sts /16 rows=4”

Materials List:

  • K/10 ½/6.50mm size crochet hook
  • Red Heart With Love medium weight 100% acrylic (370yds/338m/7oz/198g) Sample color: 1907 Boysenberry or #1971 Tigerlily
  • Tapestry needle
  • Everything Mary Round Wood Handle (optional)


blsc: back loop single crochet (need help identifying the back loop, check this out)

ch(s): chain(s)

rem: remaining

rep: repeat

sc: single crochet

sp(s): space(s)

st(s): stitch(es)

yo: yarn over

Pattern Notes

The body of the bag is worked from one side across the bottom to the other side.

The body of the bag is worked with short rows.

The handles of the bag are attached to the row ends of the bag.

There are 2 options provided for handles.

Row 1: Ch 45, sc in 2nd ch from hook, sc in each ch across, turn. -44 sc

Row 2: Ch 1, sc in next 5 sts, blsc in next 34 sts, leaving rem sts unworked, turn.  -39 sc

Row 3: Ch 1, blsc in next 34 sts, leaving rem sts unworked, turn. -34 sc

Row 4: Ch 1, blsc in next 34 sts, sc in next 5 sts of the row 2 below, turn. -39 sc

Row 5: Ch 1, sc in next 5 sts, blsc in next 34 sts, sc in next 5 sts of the row 2 below, turn. -44 sc

Row 6-61: Rep Rows 2-5 fourteen times.

Wooded Handle Attaching (Option 1)

Working along the row ends, sc around the wooden handle, working 32 sc across edge. Fasten off. (For tips on how to work around the handle, check out this tutorial)

Repeat on opposite side.

Crochet Handle Attaching (Option 2)

Ch 1, working along the row ends, 4 sc in first row end, working in a spiral (meaning that you are working in the round but are not joining the round, you continue working in the next stitch) to create a cord, blsc in the first sc worked in the end row, blsc in each sc until the cord measures about 14” (35.5cm), sl st to opposite end row from the beginning of the cord, sl st next 3 sts of cord to same st, sc in each row end across to beginning of the cord, fasten off.


Folding handles together, whip stitch the open ends of the purse leaving between 1-2” open from the handles.

Weave in ends.

The Smaller Size of Wool- Felting

ScannedImageWool shrinks, wool is scratchy, and wool is expensive. These are just a few of the comments I have heard from people as to why they have never worked with a yarn other than acrylic. I will admit, I use to feel that way too, until I learned more about it.

Let us address why wool shrinks. The shrinking process is called felting, it occurs when the individual fibers attach together. Each strand of fiber has scales, similar to the images that you have seen on hair conditioner commercials, where is shows a strand of hair with overlapping scales down the shaft, this is the same with wool. When wool fibers are rubbed together these scales will catch on each other and pull closed together, I think of it as holding hands, and this causes the individual fibers to pull closer together. As each individual strand does this, the overall size of the piece will shrink, because all of the individual strands are closer together.


Felted handbags… If you can still see the stitches, there is definitely more felting that can be done.

However, just because it can be simply stated does not mean that it happens easily, or equally. Some sheep breeds result in wool that felts much easier than others, but as the yarn ball usually only says “wool” it is hard to know exactly how that yarn will behave.

Many believe that getting wool wet, or getting it hot causes it to felt, when in reality it is agitation. By rubbing the fibers together you can cause them to felt, in a sense, the little “pills” you sometimes find after wearing are small versions of felting. These are fibers that have been rubbed together and have worked free of the yarn and formed a matted group that does not come apart. Water and heat can ease the felting process as they both help the scales open up, so it is easier for them the catch hold of one another, adding soap to this process can facilitate it even more, but without rubbing the scales will not felt.

Simply placing an item in the dryer will not cause it to felt, it really already felted in the washing machine as the drum agitated the clothing, the dryer just sped up the visual process by drying it. Unfortunately though, once wool has felted, it cannot be undone.

Felting though is not necessarily a bad thing. If you plan on intentionally felting your creation, such as a handbag, you can create a fabric so dense that you do not need to line it, and yet nothing will fall out. There are even patterns that create slippers by felting your original work. When creating or working with patterns such as these, they will be created larger than the desired outcome, to know how much you need to know how much your wool will shrink. You begin by making a swatch, measure it, then wash it or treat it in the manner you are planning on felting it (personally I just throw it in the washing machine with some denim to give it the most agitation, and then the dryer. This process may give you inconsistent outcomes, but I kind of like surprises). After it has felted, measure the swatch again, and then compare these measurements to the original, the difference in the amount of surface area is the amount it shrinks, now adjust the end desired size upward accordingly.

Note that the felting process never really ends, you can continue to felt a wool item many times over, and it will continue to shrink, not usually as drastically as the first time, but the fibers can continue to get closer and closer after each agitation.