Stabilizing crocheted tote bags of any size can be a challenge. After researching online we found a couple of solutions including creating and sewing in a liner into the bag, crocheting actual crochet thread with the yarn when creating the strap and crocheting around a double length of cotton clothes line. Granted, creating a square pocket out of cotton fabric and sewing it into the inside of the bag will stabilize the inside of the bag and keep things from falling out but the crocheted handle will still stretch as you use it. Our inventory has over 100 different sized totes already so we had to come up with a way to improve the bags that we had without having to take them apart again.
We did create beaded chain lengths with lobster clasps on the ends that we wove in and around the top of the bag. The bag doesn’t sag from the strap any more but when you place something in it like a cellphone it still has a tendency to sag down in the bag. We will have to sew linings into those bags and see how that goes and probably all of the purses that we didn’t add a crocheted divider in the center. We finally decided to try using twill cotton ribbon sewn to the underside of the crocheted straps and down the sides of the bag and see how that goes. Researching online we found that most of the ribbon you get from the department and crafts stores just wouldn’t be enough and/or too cost prohibitive for the amount of purses we have to convert.
Luckily, we found the Ribbon Factory: https://ribbonfactory.com/ They are a family owned and operated business that specializes in selling bulk amounts of ribbons in various sizes, colors and materials at a reasonable price. The minimum order is $20 though. When you calculate that, on average, our crocheted straps are about 1 inch wide and 25 to 45 inches long and we have approximately 100 of these we need to convert we will need approximately 200 yards of ribbon. You want it to be consistent in size, shape and color. And cotton, to me, seems like it would wash well, not stretch and not be scratchy on the skin. We selected white, black and a cute pink cotton twill ribbon as we have a wide variety of colors but quite a few of our items are pink. So, we will use the white one on the lighter colors and the black one on the darker colors. We are starting out using 3/8″ wide ribbon because our cellphone bag straps are not as wide as the rest of our purses. We may have to order 7/8″ in the future.
Now all we had to do is measure the ribbon to the length of the strap, pin it down and sew them together. We have hand sewn double lines down the sides of the ribbon so that it will not curl over later on. So far it works pretty well but the straps are now a little short for our customers to put the crocheted water bottle holders cross body wise. We will have to make the straps longer for them. To do the liners we had to purchase a new sewing machine because the one we have been carrying around while traveling has locked up on us. It was cheaper to buy another one than to have that one fixed. Plus, we wanted a smaller model that was light weight and fits on our small kitchen table in the RV. Below are a couple of pictures of the water bottle holders we have converted and next time we will post the cellphone totes and regular purses that we have sewn liners into.
If this works we will have to charge more for our bags and it will take some time to convert all of them. We are hoping to have all of them done before the Florida Folk Festival at the end of May.