Anyone who can crochet a rectangle can create a stylish purse. The trick is 3 simple folds, two seams, and a strap of your choice. Actually, once you decide how large you want to make your bag, take the shortest dimension of your rectangle and multiply by 3 for the length. For example, the red ridged purse measured approximately 11 inches by 33 inches before I made the folds. I used Sugar and Creme Red in worsted weight (#4) with an H (5.0) hook. I chained 33 stitches and began my Half Double Crochet (HDC) from the second chain from the hook for the first row. In the second row I continued with the HDC but crocheted from the back loop only (BLO) . I continued with the HDC in the BLO for the rest of the rectangle.
Before I folded the crocheted piece, I tried out the folds with a piece of paper to make sure I got it right.
When the folds were made I was careful to make sure that the ridges lined up. The HDC with BLO has a special feature of a raised ridge. The lined texture works quite well in designing the Bento Purse. Pin the folds so that the pieces lie flat. Seam together using the Mattress Stitch. I consulted a You Tube video to do the stitch correctly the crocheted version of the mattress stitch is slightly different than the knitted version. A large black button and a red loop was added for interest and security. The black leather strap with metal clips complete the look. The clips are secure, but the strap can be transferred to other purses if you do not want to purchase a separate strap for each purse.
I also tried a color blocking technique to get a unique abstracted effect. Again I used a commercial handle for a white accent.
Another way to create a Bento Purse is to crochet 3 Granny Squares. Sew the side seams together to make the rectangle. Since each of the Granny Squares has the same dimensions, it is easy to get a rectangle with 1:3 proportions. The navy, white, and turquoise purse includes traditional 3 Double Crochet clusters to create a square in each of the three colors. I crocheted the strap in navy yarn and attached it to the purse.
To achieve a firmer purse fabric with the Granny Square, I used a more solid rendition. Based on what I had in my cotton yarn stash, I selected white, pink and orange for the different colored square rings. Two of the squares were identical. The middle square had the same colors, but the color array was changed up a bit. I was winging it as I worked, and I was curious to see how the finished product would line up. I was quite pleased with the cheerful, spring accessory.
The final Bento Purse was based on the granny square, Circle Dance by Carolyn Christmas Designs. The first part of the construction was to create 3 circles with different colored concentric rings. Then each circle was converted to a square using different sizes of crochet stitches from triple crochet, to double crochet, to half double crochet to single crochet. Extra rows of single crochet were added to get a neater square look. See www.carolyn christmas designs/blogspot.com for directions to make different sized squares. A black button was added for accent and security. Again I used a black commercial strap for convenience. The effect is quirky and bold. It will certainly brighten up my black or white outfits.
When I add my Bento Purses to my Crocheted Knotted Japanese Purses, I have quite a collection. I will probably keep a few, gift a few, and donate a few to my local Woodbridge Senior Center sale. I have one more set of purses planned to explore different closings and handles. I still have several full and partial skeins of cotton yarn and a lot more experimenting to do.
As always, I welcome your feedback and reflections. Thank you for joining me on my stitching journey.