Arabesque Tote – some options

November 30, 2008 at 4:04 pm 2 comments

My Arabesque tote bag looks lovely paired with the green  “Go Retro” knitted coat in the Winter 2008 issue of Knitters.  But maybe those aren’t your colors… or your can’t find/have another yarn you’d rather use?  You can substitute as long as you’re using a similar weight feltable wool yarn (and swatch first, of course).  Find a varigated yarn with colors you love, and choose three hues from the yarn with similar value (i.e., light/darkness).  If you’re not sure how to compare value, it helps to squint or look at the yarn in low light.

arabesque-originalThe prototype bag that I knitted for this pattern was in a different colorway, and used Paton’s Classic Merino, color ‘harvest’ for the varigated yarn, and yarn from a friend’s sheep for the bag (this second yarn no longer available, but very close to available solid colors of Pattons merino classic).  So instead of brown, teal and green, you see what this bag would look like in plum, burgundy and green.   Just take inspiration from a varigated yarn that appeals to you, and experiment! 

Here’s the colorway from Knitter’s again, for comparison.  I’d love to see other color variations, so please send me a picture if you make this bag in other colors!

arabesquefinal2Would you like to put a lining in your bag?  All you need are basic sewing skills, and perhaps a sewing machine if you have one.

First, select your fabric.  I used printed cotton with some metallic touches.  I picked a fabric that doesn’t have a definate direction for the print so that I would have minimal fabric waste and could cut out my rectangle sideways on just over 1/2 yard of 45″ fabric.  You  may need more fabric than that if your print has to run a certain way.

Measure the width of your bag just below the handles, and the height of your bag from below the top trim to the base.   Now cut out a rectangle that is the width of your bag + 1 inch (for seam allowance) and twice the height of your bag, plus 2 inches to turn under.  Here’s a sketch showing what I mean:


Fold the rectangle in half, with the right sides of the fabric facing inward, and sew the side seams (by hand, by machine – your choice).  Fold down the top hem and press into place.  Fold it down and press a second time if you want your bag lining to fall well below the top edge of your bag (mine is done that way). 


Now, keeping the right side of the fabric facing inward, match one of the sideseams to the fold in the rectangle that forms the bottom of the lining.  Sew a three-inch line across as shown, creating a triangular flap.  Press this flap toward the bottom of the lining.  This step helps the lining conform better to the rounded edges at the bottom of the knitted bag.  Do the same thing on the other side of the bag.  Again, a picture to show what I mean:


Got that?  Now, insert the lining into the bag so that the right side of the fabric will show when the bag is opened.  The side seams of the lining should be at the sides of the bag, and the upper edge of the lining evenly spaced below the top edge of the bag.  It’s good if the lining is slightly deeper than the bag, as the bag will stretch a bit when things are in it, but you don’t want the lining to be shorter, as that will cause the lining to pull on the stitches that hold it to the bag.  Once you have it like you like, pin it into place, easing as necessary to avoid puckers.  Sew lining to bag with blind stitch (as used to attach the handle).  Here’s a peak inside my bag with the lining sewn in:


Adding a lining will  help keep your bag from getting stretched out with use, and adds a nice finishing touch.  Optional, of course, but the idea presented for your consideration.  Whatever color you choose, lined or not, I hope you enjoy knitting, using, or gifting this bag for a long time!

Also, a quick reminder – 20% off handspun yarn and handmade items in my shop through December 1st, and free shipping on all orders over $50 through December 10th!  Lots of lovely rovings, fiber-themed badges and magnets, hand-dyed commercial yarns – take a peek!, or follow the shop link at the top of this page.


Entry filed under: knitting, OTHER FIBER FUN. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , .

Me too! Me too! Treasuries

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Denise  |  December 1, 2008 at 11:53 am

    Lovely bag! Clear and precise instructions and drawings for making the liner.

    fellow etsyfast member

  • 2. amy  |  December 1, 2008 at 4:00 pm

    I saw your purple and orange flower fabric lining- I bought the exact same fabric to line a cable knit bag! I love that it has a little bit of sparkle to it. Crazy! But I love knitting so much more than sewing, I’m not sure I’ll every put the two together.

    Congrats on having the pattern published! It is a pretty and good-sized bag!


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