Make Your Own Recycled Fabric Knitted Purse

Retrobellish pink-recycled-fabric-knitted-purse
The following knitted purse article was a previous article I had written a few years back and posted on the Romaxx3 Crafts and Squidoo websites. Since I posted the knitted cell phone case cover here and mention this purse, I thought it would be a good idea to include this on Retrobellish to show a different item made from the same technique.

It all started when I watched a craft show about knitting with fabric. The show featured a lady who sewed a simple summer dress in a smooth beautiful floral colored cotton fabric. The beautiful summer dress had an empire waistline, and although the top portion of the dress was fashioned in a tube top style, it had the most beautiful braided-like texture, and it tied at the shoulders with thin straps. The lady explained that she had created this beautiful texture by knitting it with strips created from the same floral fabric. I couldn’t believe how beautiful the dress looked. I immediately knew that I wanted to try this technique, although it would probably be on a smaller scale, and I came up with the idea of a small knitted purse.

Knitting Technique
The technique involves cutting fabric into thin strips, preferably using a type of fabric that won’t run at the edges when cut into thin strips (each strip should be about 1/2 of an inch wide or about a finger’s width) and the whole length of the fabric. The best fabrics that worked were the polyester blends (or you can also use pinking shears or scallop edged scissors to cut ravel-resistant edges. Although this is not the same as a straight edge cut, the stitches still look beautiful on this type of project. I also made one purse using a softer fabric for which I had to use pinking shears and it still was very beautiful. If you’re not certain about the fabric and using pinking shears, you can always try making a small sample before beginning a larger project.

Retrobellish pink-recycled-fabric-knitted-purse

Continue making many long strips in the same fashion as described above because you’ll need to connect them into one very, very long strip. One way to connect these fabric strips is by sewing one end of a strip to the next strip. While slightly overlapping one strip end to the next strip end, hand sew a few stitches to bind the two ends together (I used a regular sewing needle and matching colored thread). Repeat this process many times, because you’ll need to take this very long strip and start forming a fabric ball, just like you would form a ball of yarn. The lady on the show never indicated how much fabric she used to make her finished product, but I cut many strips and (comparing it to the size of a ball of yarn) made a medium sized fabric (strip) ball and then began knitting. I cut about 2/3 of one yard into strips, but I did have about 3 yards of fabric in reserve in case I ran out of strips and had to cut more strips. So depending on your project, fabric, size needles, you’ll have to estimate how much you’ll need as you go along.

The lady used large knitting needles (size 13), but I used size 12 knitting needles. I then took one end of my fabric strip, made my slip knot and cast on 16 stitches from my fabric ball. I started knitting and just used my discretion when I completed a rectangle to the size that I thought was perfect for my small purse. You can always experiment with the type of fabric you’d like to use, as well as with the needle size for the project you decide to knit.

A very important tip regarding the use of patterned fabric – you need to make certain that the colorful pattern on the front of the fabric is just as vibrant on the back of the fabric because not all fabrics have the same color intensity on both sides, and this type of knitted technique will not look well if side one of the fabric is not as colorful as side two of the fabric.

The deep hot pink fabric I used for my purse was recycled from a bridesmaids dress that I knew I’d never wear again. I had about 3-4 yards of this beautiful fabric, and it was solid in color on both sides. More importantly, it did not run when I cut it into 1/2 inch wide strips. I only measured the first strip to a half-inch in width and then cut the rest of the strips by eye.

When you’re done knitting the rectangular piece that will be your purse (or whatever you make), you can choose to finish the edges of your knitted piece in any of your preferred methods of sealing any knitted project you’ve ever made. I chose to seal my knitted purse edges by using a crochet needle to pull through a fabric strip (from my same fabric strip ball), and also by hand-sewing some areas with a regular needle and matching pink colored thread.

Embellishments:
I measured and cut a rectangle of fabric to line the inside of my purse and tacked it on (by hand sewing stitches down the edges). Using fun fur I knitted a band (using no. 8 knitting needles, I knitted four stitches across and kept knitting until the band reached the width of the purse) and then I sewed the furry band onto the bottom edge of my purse. I then bought some sparkling beaded trim that I hand sewed at the bottom edge of my purse right next to the furry trim. I then sewed a small loop of fabric to the inside corners of the purse. Each loop served as the link through which I would insert the wire loop for my wire handle.
Retrobellish pink-recycled-fabric-knitted-purse

Making The Handle
I next used a heavy gauge wire and took some pliers to form a hook that I put through one of the fabric loops, on the other wire end I slid on some big beautiful colored beads that I bought to match the fabric, then by eye, measured the wire to the size of the handle I wanted for the purse, used my wire cutters to cut the end of the wire, formed a loose loop and put it through the other fabric loop before tightening the wire loop to seal it.

I then took a fabric flower that was already on my dress and sewed it onto the front of the purse. I loved the way my purse turned out and I’ve enjoyed wearing it. Although it’s a project that takes time, it’s also a hobby that I love and enjoy very much.

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