I have been making a lot of tiny purses lately. They are an ideal pandemic distraction: small, portable, quick to make. They are stash busters. They are easy to knit while watching Neflix . . . They make great gifts for loved ones far away, or next door.
Welcome, Change! is More Than Just A Change Purse
All of the new On The Go! tiny purses are as practical as they are great looking. Welcome, Spring! and Welcome, Change! are ideal change purses, but they are also lovely trinket and treasure bags. I’m making one for my mom for Mother’s day. They make lovely hostess gifts, and you can make one in the evening and complete all the finishing the next day.
Ready, Set, Go! Is The Perfect Shopping Companion
Ready, Set, Go! is the little purse I clip to my big bag and take with me everywhere. Truly. My little black one is clipped onto a new tote I will tell you about soon . . . but the point is that she can carry my most-used credit cards, folded bills, change, and I clip my car and house keys to her little key chain set up on the back. I grab her and go! I love that I don’t need to dig through my tote to find my credit card. I’m already checked out and out the door while some folks are still putting their groceries in bags one at a time.
Clip It! Can Keep You Organized . . . And Safe
And Clip It! She can carry everything Ready, Set, Go! can but she can also carry your pen, your glasses. Know someone who has complained that she can’t find a cute bag for her epi pen? This is it! If my dad would carry a little purse, he’d love it. He has his pen with him at. all. times. Just the other day, I clipped Clip It! to my knitting bag. She now keeps track of my short double-points, my needle case, my stitch holders, and my long skinny needle gauge. I stowed my glasses in the other one. . . the one I dressed up with a sugar skull ornament and some cabochon rivets. Noni has more decorative ornaments coming soon . . .
Welcome to Welcome, Spring!: A Beautiful Easter or Mother’s Day Gift
And the absolute newest tiny purse is Welcome, Spring! a special edition pattern that you can only get if you purchase the On The Go! purse pattern (contains the trio of Welcome, Change!; Ready, Set, Go!; and Clip It!) or one of the singles (each purse is also featured in her own pattern at a half the price of On The Go!). You must also purchase at least one On The Go! purse hardware kit and then I’ll send Welcome, Spring! to you as my gift.
If you have already purchased the pattern and a kit, please take a picture of your order confirmation or the kit and pattern and send it to me at email@example.com and I will send you your pattern.
Until Thursday, February 25, get 15% off orders of $50 or more. JUL Leather handles and kits that include leather handles are excluded. Use Promo code blog15off50 at checkout and then be sure to press APPLY to activate your discount.
You can make your own On The Go! tiny purses! Or shop the entire Noni Store Now. Welcome, Spring can be not only the prettiest key chain you’ve owned, but you can attach a chain and locket and carry her as a wristlet. An Easter or Mother’s Day Corsage that is also practical. Make Something Beautiful!
My purses and bags often begin with hardware components. What I mean is, I design around a particular piece of hardware, or a handle. This purse was no exception. I had been collecting sew-in purse frames for some time. I knew I wanted to design purses for them. Just one sticking point. I think sew-in frames look terrible when the sewing through those little sew-holes is visible. I stared and stared at those holes trying to figure out how I could make the stitches look pretty, or hide them.
And then one day I had the idea to use seed beads as anchors for stitches that went through the holes but not around the frame. So, instead of stiches that had to move from fabric around the frame, into a whole, and then around the frame again, my concept was to put the needle through each hole twice, with a single bead on the outside to hold those stitches in place and the purse in the frame.
That epiphany exploded my purse and bag world . . . and took a little bit of the knitting world by storm!
I had solved an engineering iproblem. Now for the design itself. I write about the inspiration for Lipstick and Change in the “liner notes” for the purse:
I remember one of the first purses I ever owned: a gift for my birthday, it was made of black leather that was soft to the touch. It was tiny. Perfect for treasured things when I was a little girl and then for grown-up girl things, like lipstick . . . and change. It carried these essentials until its sweet little kiss lock would no longer kiss.
Lipstick and Change is my effort to recapture that beloved first purse. My update is colorful, playful, and has 3 size options (who doesn’t love options?).The tiniest size is perfect for when you can leave the house with just about nothing except a car key, lipstick, and a few crisp bills.
The medium size is ideal for the after party where smart phones are just not cool. And the celeb who spots your bag will probably ask you where you got it.
And the largest size is large enough for an I-phone and everything you really need. You really can’t make just one.
They are speedy purses to knit, and relatively quick to finish. They make great gifts: an economical gift, both in terms of time and cost.
Make Your Own Lipstick and Change!
If you’ve always had a mind to try making Lipstick and Change, now is a great opportunity. Below I have included the pattern for the smallest size.
Small Lipstick and Change Pattern
The knitting is intrepid Easy: Requires knowledge of knitting and purling, knitting in the round on circular needles, and some hand-sewing during the finishing process.
Abbreviations Used In The Pattern
BO Bind off
CO Cast on
K3tog Knit three stitches together
Kfbf Knit in the front, back, and front of the stitch
pm Place marker
RS Right side or knit side
St st Stockinette stitch
WS Wrong side
20 stitches and 28 rounds = 4″ (10cm) in stockinette stitch
Post-Felting Approximate Finished Measurements
4″ (10cm) wide across the front/back at bag bottom x 4″ (10cm) wide across the front/back at bag top x 2″ (5cm) deep4″ (10cm) tall from bottom to frame
75 yds (69m) of worsted weight feltable yarn
Knitting Needles & Other Materials
Size 8 (5mm) 16″ (40cm) circular needles or needle size to obtain pre-felted gauge
Sharp sewing needle
1 Stitch marker to mark round
1 Noni Lipstick & Change Bag kit: Includes frame, 10″ chain, clear, silver-lined seed beads, white nylon beading thread, stiffener for the bag bottom, and 6 tiny bag feet.
Awl or size 6 (4mm) double-pointed needle to help with the finishing process
Clear-drying fabric glue or Locktite Extra Time Control super glue
Small Lipstick and Change Purse Instructions for the Bag Bottom and Body
With a single-strand of yarn, CO 24 sts. Work in St st for 16 rows. BO. With the RS facing you, pick up and knit stitches around the bag bottom, beginning with a short side as follows: *pick up and knit 6 sts, pm, pick up 6 more sts across the short side, then across long side, pick up 24 sts; repeat from * once for remaining short and long sides, pm for beginning of the round—72 sts.
Round 1: Join and knit in the round as follows: *knit across short side, k6, [kfbf, k1] 6 times, k6; repeat from * once more—96 sts.
Round 17: Divide the sts in half to create the 48-st bag flaps as follows, removing markers as you come to them: knit across short side, knit across long side, k6 short side sts, rm; join a new ball of yarn and k6, knit across long side, remove beginning of the round marker, k6.
Row 1 (WS): Turn and work flaps simultaneously with separate yarns, p48 across each flap.
Rows 2 – 7: Work each flap in St st.
Row 8 (RS): K3tog 16 times—16 sts each flap.
Rows 9 – 10: Work in St st.
Row 11 (WS): BO knitwise. Weave in ends.
Felting, Blocking, and Finishing
Prepare to Felt Your Purse
It is imperative that you have your purse frame available to check the size of the purse so that you do not over-felt. For best results, felt your bag until it the flaps are about 1 inch wider than the entire width of the purse frame. Once the purse is the desired size, rinse and then spin until slightly damp. Keep the purse slightly damp (not wet) in a plastic bag in the fridge until you can glue the purse into the frame (see below).
Felting in conventional (non HE) top-loading washers
Place items to felt in separate lingerie bag(s) or zippered pillow protector(s). Make sure any ends are cut to no longer than 2″ (5cm). Choose the smallest load size that accommodates your project and allows it to move freely – in this case, the extra small – small load size. Add tennis balls, sport shoes devoted to felting, or a soft canvas bag to the load to provide extra agitation and balance. It is critical that you do not use towels or other items that will release lint onto your felt. Choose hot/cold water setting and add a tiny bit of detergent. Check often and move the bag around in the washer, making sure no set-in creases develop.
To conserve resources, turn back the agitation dial until the bag is finished felting to your liking or reaches the finished measurements here, rather than letting the machine complete multiple cycles. When your bag has reached the proper size, rinse (with no agitation or rinse in cold tap water) and spin dry. Remove and pull into shape.
Felting in HE/front-loading washers
For those with washers that cannot be opened or do not provide agitation, or those with high-speed spin cycles that might crease your bag, felt in the clothes dryer (below).
Felting in a clothes dryer
Soak your project in boiling hot water for about 10 minutes. Put in the dryer. Felt just as you would in the washer: the agitation of the dryer and project wetness is what causes the felting. Stay close by, smooth out, check size, and re-wet often. Once the bag has shrunk to the desired measurements, pull it into shape using the photographs on the cover to direct your efforts.
Apply clear-drying fabric glue (instant-bond glues not recommended) into the “slot” of the purse frame using the flaps in place while the glue dries with long basting stitches that go through the purse fabric, through a frame hole, and around frame to another hole 2 – 3 holes from previous one. Remove basting stitches once glue has dried.
Use a needle and beading thread to sew flaps to the purse frame. Beginning on inside of purse, bring threaded needle through felt, through a metal purse frame hole, and through a bead.
To reach the next sew-hole, angle the needle toward that hole as you put it back through the same frame hole the needle just came out of. Pull snug. Your needle is now on the inside of the bag: again, angle the needle toward the next sew-hole as you place the needle through the bag almost where it came out. You can also put a bead on the thread here on the inside for a lovely effect. Repeat steps until each hole on frame exterior is filled with a bead. Finish off thread with a knot and cut.
Line the Bag Bottom with Stiffener and Attach Bag Feet
Cut two pieces of stiffener that fit nicely in the bag bottom. Use bag feet to secure this first piece in the bag as follows: Use a paper hole punch to punch holes in the stiffener at even intervals for bag feet. Use an awl or size 6 (4mm) double-pointed needle to create a hole for the bag foot prongs in the felt. Insert the prongs into the little hole and press through both the felt and bag stiffener piece already positioned inside the bag. Open the prongs and press down.
Repeat at desired intervals. Last, place the second sheet of stiffener inside the bag and tack in place. If desired, it looks nice to “line” this second sheet of stiffener with some fun fabric.
My life as Noni started years ago during a lonely stretch of time when I was a graduate student at the University of Maryland and living in Baltimore City–in Charles Village and later Bolton Hill for those of you who are local to me here in Maryland.
My father and stepmother still lived in Maryland then and invited me to spend the weekend with them. Our adventure: a trip to the Mannings, a destination knitting and weaving store for generations that has since then sadly closed. As most of us know, the sample sells . . . I walked into the shop and saw a Dale of Norway colorwork sweater on the mannequin. Arranged below were balls and balls of Dale of Norway yarn.
I made the sweater exactly as you see it above. To practice – I had not knit anything of any consequence since I was about 13! – I made the hat on the way home. I am a continental knitter and had no experience with color work. I just (to this day I do this) knit with one color, dropped that strand, picked the other up, knit with that, and so on. I’m slow but my knitting stays nice and flat.
I worked on that sweater as a sort of solace. This was before smart phones, before the days of social media and constant interruption. I didn’t even have a TV. I would knit in the quiet of my Baltimore row house, the sound of the clock ticking, the radiator clancking periodically. It was the sweetest meditation.
When the sweater was finally finished, I took it to the local knit shop, Woolworks on Falls Road. It, sadly, closed last year, but it was a veritable institution for generations of knitters. I took it there, laid it on the counter and said, “I need to finish the plackets and cuffs with embroidery. Do you have Dale of Norway yarns?”
Two ladies crowded around the sweater and started inspecting it, running their fingers over the stitches, looking at the pattern created by the carries on the inside of the sweater, turning it over, inside out, looking at every inch, fingers delicately following the purl row that allows a flat turn at the collar and cuffs . . .
“Did YOU knit this?” said W, a pretty, petite woman with a slight New York accent. She had dark, unruly wavy hair cut close in an almost pixie. She wore an oversized hand-knit sweater with slim grey jeans, ballet flats. Her face was narrow and intent. She was warm, and inquisitive.
“Are you married?” said R, the other woman, a tall, elegant,handsome person. She wore jeans that had been pressed to creases. Her fitted t-shirt also looked pressed and was tucked in. She, too, was wearing a hand-knit sweater with classic lines, small buttons, all fitted with lovely details. Her hair was combed into perfect waves and kept that way, no doubt, with a cloud of hair spray. I wondered what she looked like without make-up.
“Do you want a job?” they both said, nearly in unison. I laughed. The two of them eyed me intently, both still leaning forward, their hands still brushing absently over the sweater on the counter in the middle of our little circle.
In fact, I did want a job. “Yes, yes I want a job. Yes, I knit this . . .” I told them the story of finding it at Mannings, the weeks knitting. They listened as they led me back to the left side back recesses of the store where the bins of Dale of Norway were and we stood and discussed color combinations. They took turns asking me personal questions until other ladies entered the shop and their help was needed elsewhere.
They were serious about the job. And I took that job. Thus began my part-time-while-a-graduate-student-job and a crash course in everything knitting that I had never known or paid attention to in the past: swatching, gauge, yarn weight, fiber content, making mistakes, fixing mistakes, altering patterns, writing patterns . . . I learned by making my own mistakes, figuring out how to fix them, and by helping other people fix their mistakes. This was central to my own philosophy of knitting and teaching: mistakes are the treasure trove of knowledge. Don’t be afraid of making them, even though it’s stressful sometimes . . . mistakes are worth their weight in gold nuggets.
I was mostly contented to make sweaters from the pattern books in the shop until one day when the two owners came back from the big knitting trade show (TNNA . . . sadly this pandemic has forced its demise only last year, too). They had seen a felted bag at the show and had both made small ones at night after the show when they were in the hotel room. Now, these little bags sat on the counter by the register. I had never seen anything like them. They were adorable, captivating. I had to make one.
“HOW did you do this?” I asked W. It was furry, a small creature in my hands. I didn’t want to put it down. A bag that was like carrying a small, obedient puppy. W handed me a very simple hand-written pattern photocopied on a half-sheet of white paper. I bought some feltable yarn in a bunch of fun colors and added some hot pink mohair that I had from a sweater I had recently knit and made the little bag below. It is, truly, the first Nonibag. I was absolutely in love with it. I carried it everywhere even though it is so small it can hold nearly nothing except for wallet, car and house keys, pen, maybe a small paperback book. . . I think I did carry a copy of Othello around since I was teaching Shakespeare at the University of Maryland at the time.
I started experimenting immediately. Questions, theories, and mistakes were my teachers. What if I wanted to . . . What if I did this? What would happen if I . . .
I made lots of little bags. I made enormous bags that became yarn baskets. I made bags shaped like tubes. And I used stripes, a lot. I used mohair to create color complexity and a lovely halo that I, to this day, find quite fetching sometimes. You can see this in several of the Vintage Nonibags, such as The Garden Party Bag with its grass-green, textured body.
My purses started attracting a lot of attention. Ladies stopped me on the street. The ladies at the shop asked me to make bags for them, too. The red and red striped medium carpet bag was my first commissions. M wanted a red bag with big red flowers. “Can you do it?” She asked me. “Of course!” I said, feeling just a little queasy because I was not too sure about the flowers part. I started picking different feltable reds from the shelf. I think I pulled about 15 different reds down and used all of them in a bag that came out AMAZING but rather odd. I carried it around for years . . . it has since been retired. Design work often means taking an idea through several iterations. I tried again. The second bag I made was the Medium Carpet Bag. That first flower was The Camellia Flower.
Another customer wanted a smaller sized after she saw M’s bag. That became the Small Carpet Bag.
And then someone wanted a briefcase-sized version of the Carpet Bag with big red flowers. The Rather Huge Carpet Bag was born. She’s amazing. Striking. Classic. Fun. Unapologetic. She still stops traffic.
And for 24 hours . . . starting with tomorrow’s blog post . . . you can download this classic Nonibag pattern for free.
In tomorrow’s blog entry itself, I will include the written instructions for the medium sized carpet bag as well as my tips and techniques for excellent finishing. I will also introduce a new finishing package that includes a beautiful new JUL Leather handle and gorgeous metal hardware–handle brackets, a beautiful snap closure, bag feet, and cabochon rivet details. A stunning hardware update for an unforgettable bag. See you tomorrow on the Noni Blog!
I have gotten a few questions about how to put felted purses into purse frames (6-8-10, W, Lipstick & Change, Big Flirt . . . and so many others). Here is a step-by-step photo-tutorial that shows how to put a purse into a sew-hole frame that has a slot.
First, Gather together the necessary materials on a clean, well-lit working surface: a clean paper towel to protect your work surface, your slightly damp purse, fabric glue, purse frame, beads, beading thread, a sharp thin-gauge needle, a pair of thread nippers (pictured here) or scissors, and a metal double-pointed needle or tapestry needle (top poke the purse into the frame slot).
Gluing The Purse Into The Frame
Step 1: Apply the Glue to the Frame one side at a time. The first step is to put a line of glue into the slot of the purse frame, particularly on the “solid” side of the frame that does not contain sew holes.
NOTE: Do not put glue in both sides as it is very easy to end up with glue on your purse where you don’t want it. Also important: DO NOT USE TOO MUCH GLUE. In other words, it is not necessary to fill the slot. Just a single slim line of glue on the non-hole side will more than do the trick. More important than getting a lot of glue is that you are using the correct glue. Use fabric glue (Liquid Stitch is a good choice). The bottle you see here is Liquid Fusion. I like it very much. It has a nice consistency, stays put, and works on fabric and other materials for a good hold. Elmer’s Glue is not strong enough. Gorilla glue makes a mess.
Place the frame, front side down, on the paper towel. Then arrange the first flap (right side down on the paper towel) so that it is ready to be poked into the frame.
I like to begin by poking one side of the purse and then the other into the frame side with the tip of a double-pointed needle or tapestry needle. I do this so that I know how much of the purse flap fabric needs to be distributed evenly across the frame. In the above photo, the middle part of the purse flap is positioned to insert into the frame.
In the above picture, I have started to insert the frame has not yet been poked into the frame. As I poke it in, I make sure that the fullness of the flap is distributed across the entire frame. It is easy to move the tip of the needle from left to right or right to left in order to distribute the fabric evenly. Below is a picture of this process once it is complete – NOTE that the folds of the flap are spaced evenly across the frame top. We can still do a little adjustment if necessary at this point and again during the blocking process.
You can check that the purse flap fabric is secure within the frame by turning the frame over so you can see the right side/whole side of the frame. If the purse is “in” the frame, you will see the color of the purse fabric through the sew holes. Dark holes, holes in shadow, mean that the purse flap has not been sufficiently poked into the slot. Simply poke the fabric in yet again.
To ensure that the purse stays put inside the frame as the glue dries, baste the purse in place using a double-strand of sewing or beading thread and a sharp needle. For good results, simply baste around the entire frame. It is not necessary to go through the sew holes at this point as you can see below.
A close up of the basting stitches: you want the stitches to be snug around the frame.
Next, place a line of glue inside the second frame slot, again careful that you put this bead of glue on the non-sew hole side of the slot.
<p value="<amp-fit-text layout="fixed-height" min-font-size="6" max-font-size="72" height="80">I sometimes find that poking the second flap into the frame is more awkward than the first. Mainly because the purse is in the way, you may have difficulty laying the frame down flat. . . so, I try to follow the same procedure: first, poke the sides in, then the top of the flap, distribute the fabric evenly . . . I console myself that the second side is the awkward side and just get the job done any way I can without making a mess. Deep breaths. That's my advice. And do what works. Sometimes you'll be very glad the glue dries clear.I sometimes find that poking the second flap into the frame is more awkward than the first. Mainly because the purse is in the way, you may have difficulty laying the frame down flat. . . so, I try to follow the same procedure: first, poke the sides in, then the top of the flap, distribute the fabric evenly . . . I console myself that the second side is the awkward side and just get the job done any way I can without making a mess. Deep breaths. That’s my advice. And do what works. Sometimes you’ll be very glad the glue dries clear.
Don’t Skip the Gluing Step: Here’s Why
I did see a posting somewhere that a Lipstick and Change maker had skipped the gluing step . . . I do not think this is wise. She seemed to think it would save her time or that she was giving in to laziness. The gluing step is possibly the quickest of the finishing steps. AND it is essential for keeping the purse in the frame should the “sewing in” part of the purse construction be compromised in some way.
I would not want to be be walking down the street and have a corner of my purse come undone with no glue to keep it in place.
The purse will be held in the frame by the glue alone if you have done this step properly. You will see that gluing and basting may take as little as 15 minutes. It’s the sewing that will take more of your time.
Sew The Purse Into The Frame While The Glue Dries
You may be tempted to glue one day and sew the next. I do not recommend this. It is both necessary and easier to sew the purse into the frame using the little beads while the glue dries. As the glue hardens, it becomes much harder to push a needle through it. So, what would normally take an hour can take considerably longer or prove impossible altogether.
Begin Sewing at The Hinge On One Side
The First step is to begin at the hinge of one side. With your double strand of nylon beading thread already on the needle and a knot at the end, put your needle into the purse frabric and then into a hole from inside to outside. You will have to angle your needle somewhat to get it through the hole. Getting the right angle sometimes is awkward and annoying. Sometimes, one might be inclined to think she is doing something wrong . . . this step requires a bit of muscle memory, so have patience as you internalize the needle angle.
Once you have come through the hole on the front, put a bead on the needle and then go back through the same hole out of which the needle just came.
Repeat this process around the entire frame. You may also want to catch a bead on the inside of the purse in the same manner as you have done on the outside. It makes for a pretty finish on the inside. If you do not want to do this, you should nevertheless put the point of your needle almost in the same place on the inside of the purse, angling your needle toward the next sew hole so that your stitches are more or less invisible on the inside of the purse.
I sometimes prefer to have beads on the inside as well as the outside, because it is prettier.
Finish off your strand of thread by making a dress-maker’s knot and then traveling inside the felt (see images below) so that you can cut the thread off at the purse with no unsightly ends sticking out.
Once both sides are sewn in place, you can cut the basting thread, pull out the stitches, removing all the basting thread. The purse is now secure in the frame.