Noni’s Iconic “Lipstick and Change” Purse: The Story Behind the Design and a Free Pattern!

A bright yellow felted "Lipstick and Change"  purse is held aloft in the hand of purse designer Nora J. Bellows's hand.

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.

A group of small felted purses called Lipstick and Change Sparkle are arranged horizontally on a white surface. They range in color from black, to grey, to orange, pink, and finally green.
Lipstick and Change Sparkle was a second iteration of the classic design, this time with sparkle rivets. The perfect purse to wear like a bracelet to a party.

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!

Lipstick and Change is my effort to recapture that beloved first purse. My update is colorful, playful, and has 3 size options, because who doesn’t love options?

A bright orange Lipstick and Change purse dangles from a woman's wrist. She wears it like a bracelet.
The early frames did not have loops for the lobster claw purse chain to attach to. Frames with built in handle loops came later.

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.

An array of rainbow-colored Lipstick and Change purses sits against a white background.

After the first Lipstick and Change pattern came Lipstick and Change Sparkle, and then I made a series of tiny purses that were more pared down and sleek, called Lipstick and Change City. I’m still hooked on tiny bags . . . you might have noticed.

The knitted gift for a bride, a woman friend, family member, or teacher just got a lot easier . . .

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! Promotion

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.

And for 24 hours, the entire Lipstick and Change pattern is Free on my website and on Ravelry.

But that’s not all! Use the promo code 5dollars for $5 off your order of $25 or more off of everything, EVERYTHING in the Noni Store until Midnight on Monday, January 25th.

Small Lipstick and Change Pattern

Difficulty Level

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
  • K Knit
  • K3tog Knit three stitches together
  • Kfbf Knit in the front, back, and front of the stitch
  • P Purl
  • pm Place marker
  • RS Right side or knit side
  • st/sts Stitch/stitches
  • St st Stockinette stitch
  • WS Wrong side

Pre-Felted Gauge

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

Yarn Requirements

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.

Flaps

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.

Glue and then Sew Purse into Purse Frame

Take a look at my blog tutorial on this topic. Or follow the instructions below.

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

Take a look at my blog tutorial on this topic with step-by-step instructions and pictures.

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.

A Bit Of Hope: A Tiny Felted Purse – Free Knitting Pattern

I have been thinking a lot about hope as winter begins. For me, hope can be a small thing, but always with you. We tuck it away. Hold it tight in our hands or worry it with nervous fingers. Small hope gets us through. Hope is big. This tiny bag, is the little big bag that carries hope.

As any knitter knows, the knitted gift is always more than its physical self. It is hours of thought, a meditation often, of love. Of hope. This tiny purse is no different, even though it is quick to knit and easy to finish. This tiny purse is perfect for small treasures. It is a re-usable gift box for a lovely gift. Or it is the gift itself. It is a bodacious stash buster, too, requiring only 20 yards of feltable worsted weight yarn. You don’t have 20 yards of one color? Stripes are fun. Maybe more fun. Make several for tiny precious surprises or as a happy container for your stitch markers and other small knitting notions. Attach a key chain and carry it with you.

Pattern Difficulty Level

Easy: This project requires knowledge of casting on, knitting, purling, increasing, decreasing, knitting in the round on double-pointed needles, binding off, and some hand-sewing to complete the finishing process and to make the tiny bag linings (if desired).

Finished Dimensions

2 1/2 inches wide (6.25cm) by 2 1/2 inches tall (6.25cm

Unfelted Gauge

20 sts and 28 rounds = 4″ (10cm) in stockinette stitch on a US size 7 (4.5mm) needle

Yarn & Materials

Buy A LIttle Bit of Hope Limited Edition Hardware Kit – total Noni Designs inventory for this kit is only 28 pieces, so if you love this little bag, don’t wait!

If you love this little bag and might want to make more tiny bags, consider buying the Little Sweets Pattern. The Little Sweets pattern is also for sale on Ravelry. Little Sweets contains 3 bag patterns: A Little Bit of Hope plus Just Lipstick and Little Poof. All adorable.

If you’d like a copy of A Little Bit of Hope in your Ravelry Library, you can download the free pattern on Ravelry HERE.

Use promocode blogpost20 for a 20% discount off of the A LIttle Bit of Hope Limited Edition Hardware Kit and nearly everything* in the store from now until Friday, January 8th at midnight EST.

*Excluded from the sale are JUL leather handles and leather handle kits.

A tiny purse frame, a spool of white thread, silver-lined clear seed beads, and A Noni Design Label comprise the Little Bit Of Hope purse hardware kit displayed here on a wooden surface.

The Little Bit of Hope Kit Contains:

  • 1 Little Flirt Purse Frame
  • 1 Noni seed beads and thread: white with silver-lined clear beads
  • 1 A Noni Design label in lead-free, USA-made pewter
  • A tiny working lock and key as a gift from Noni (a $10 value!)

You will also need:

  • 20 yds (18.5m) worsted-weight, feltable wool from your stash or purchase a skein from Noni. The pictured bags are made with Stonehedge Fiber Mill’s Shepherd’s Wool
  • US size 7 (4.5mm) set of 5 double-pointed needles 
  • 2 locking stitch markers in different colors to mark sides
  • Sewing needle for finishing work
  • Tapestry needle for weaving in ends
  • Locktite Super Glue “Extra Time Control”
  • 1/16 yd (.05m) lining fabric if desired (optional)

A Little Bit Of Hope Purse Pattern

Purse Flaps (make 2)
First, cast on 6 stitches using your preferred cast on method. I worked the flaps separately on double-pointed needles, but you can certainly use a circular needle and work the flaps simultaneously if you prefer.
Row 1 (WS): P6.
Row 2: K1, m1r, k to last st, m1l, k1—8 sts.
Row 3: P8.
Row 4: Repeat row 2—10 sts.
Row 5: P10.
Row 6: Repeat row 2—12 sts.
Row 7: P12.
Row 8: Repeat row 2—14 sts.
Rows 9 – 11: Continue in St st. Place stitches for first flap on a spare needle if working separately and work the second flap as for the first.
Round 12: Note: Use your preferred needle(s) to work in the round, taking into consideration that you will be knitting a very small circumference, and, in the end, will perform a three-needle bind off, by dividing the stitches in half at the side markers. 

Join the 2 flaps together to finish the bag in the round as follows: knit across the last worked flap, place a marker to indicate the side seam of the bag, continue to work across the stitches from the second flap, place different colored marker to designate the side seam and beginning of the round. 

Purse Body
Rounds 13 – 16: Knit in the round.
Round 17: *K1, ssk, knit to 3 sts before marker, k2tog, k1, sm; repeat from *, slip round marker—12sts each side.
Round 18: Knit in the round.
Round 19: Repeat round 16—10sts each side.
Round 20: Knit around.
Round 21: Repeat round 16—8 sts each side.
Round 22: Knit around.

After the last round turn the bag inside out so that RSs face each other and the WS of the fabric is facing you. Divide the sts onto 2 needles at the side markers so that the two sides sit parallel to each other. Perform a 3-needle bind off. Cut yarn. Weave in all ends. 

Three tiny knitted purses sit on a window sill waiting to be felted.

Finishing

Where possible, I have created live links to other blog post tutorials here in The Noni Blog that offer additional details about each finishing step. Details about how to felt your knitted bags are coming within the next few days to this blog. When that post is live on Tuesday, January 5, the Felt Your Bag heading below will become a live link.

Prepare to Felt Your Purse

For best results, have the purse frame available to check the size of the purse so that you do not over-felt or under-felt your bag. Felt your bag until the bag, from side seam to side seam, measures between 2.5 – 2.75″ (6.25 – 6.75cm).

I caution against overfelting as a general principle: an over-felted bag is difficult if not impossible to put in a frame. Once the purse is the desired size, rinse and then spin or press between absorbent cloths until slightly damp. Keep the purse slightly damp (not wet) until you can sew the purse into the frame. If you are not able to begin the finishing process immediately, place your felted purse in a plastic bag and store in the freezer until you are ready to glue the purse into the frame (see below).

Felt Your Bag

In the top-loading washer, choose the smallest (hot wash/cold rinse) load size since this purse is so tiny. Put in a small lingerie bag. You do not need to add anything else to the washer. You especially should not add anything, such as towels, that will add lint to the wash. Add a few drops of wool-wash or baking soda to create an alkaline wash environment. Turn back the agitation dial until the bag is felted to measurement specifications. Then spin or press dry.

In a dryer, choose the hottest setting. Soak the purse in cool water until the wool is saturated. Then 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. I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to keep the bag absolutely soaking wet and to check it every few minutes.

The purpose for such vigilance is not only to make sure the bag does not shrink too little or too much but also to ensure that it does not develop creases or curling at the bag edges and/or top. Creasing and curling are a particular danger with this really tiny purse: it is so tiny that it can get balled up and stay that way. I urge you to set a timer so that you are reminded to check your bag often in order to wet it, block it, and check its felting process.

Both during the felting process and once the bag has shrunk to the desired measurements, pull, push, and mush into shape using the photographs here and its size in relation to the frame itself to direct your efforts. Questions, worries, or felting emergencies? Take the bag out of the felting process, put in a plastic bag, and put it into the freezer. Then write to me in the comments section below and I will get back to you as quickly as I can.

Once your purse is felted, proceed to the finishing below and glue the purse into the purse frame.

Glue And Then Sew Your Purse Into The Purse Frame 

I recommend that you do not to skip this important step: Apply clear-drying, Locktite Extra Time Control glue into the “slot” of purse frame. Do NOT fill the slot, but rather put a single line of glue on the non-hole side of the flap.

Press flap edges into the slot with a tapestry or small-gauge double-pointed needle.

If needed, keep flaps in place with long (snug) basting stitches that go through the purse fabric and around frame (going through the sew holes is not necessary unless the purse is very densely felted and is difficult to keep in the frame). Immediately sew the purse into the frame as described below as sometimes the glue makes this step nearly or completely impossible.

Only remove basting stitches once glue has dried.

Sew the purse into frame while the glue is still drying: With a sharp, small- gauge sewing needle and beading thread, begin on inside of purse: bring threaded needle through felt, through first metal purse frame hole, and through a bead on the outside. 

*To reach the next sew-hole, angle the needle toward that hole as you put it back through the same frame hole out of which the needle just came. Pull snug. Your needle is now on the inside of the purse and the bead is secure on the outside of the purse. Repeat from * until each hole on frame exterior is filled with a bead. Finish off thread on the inside of the purse with a knot. Weave end(s) into the felt so as to be invisible before cutting the thread. 

Two tiny felted purses side by side: on the left is a light turquoise bag with clear beads and on the right is a blue and green striped bag.

Sew on The “A Noni Design” Label

A pile of A Noni Design labels are arranged on a wooden surface.
Noni Labels take your bag to the next level of finishing.

Measure carefully to position the label in the center front or back of the purse. Secure the label to the purse as follows: Place just a tiny dot of fabric or super glue on the label back and place in desired location. Hold in place until dry. Second, beginning on the inside of the purse, bring a threaded needle through purse fabric, through one of the metal label holes, and finally through a bead. Then go back through the same hole and through purse fabric. Travel on the inside of the purse (for invisible stitches, travel through the fabric of the felt) to next label hole and repeat the procedure until the label is secured through all four holes using beads. Cut the thread and secure on the inside of the purse.

Share Your Projects With Your Knitting Friends and With Us!

A series of tiny Noni "A Bit of Hope" Felted bags are lined up vertically.

This pattern is also available for free on Ravelry. Please post your Little Bit Of Hope purses in your own Ravelry projects (it’s up in mine) and link to the pattern page. I would be delighted if you would share with all of your knitting friends!

Let me know what you think in the comments. As always, let me know if there are questions, comments, or if you need my help with anything.

Happy New Year!

Nora