Folk Art Knitting Bag, plus tutorials for gusset, strap and lining

June 20, 2024


I have the cutest knitting tote to share with you today. It's an older pattern from Martin Storey and is meant to be a child's tote, but I have enlarged it and lined it and now I've got a grown-up adorable knitting tote. I love it! This post is packed with pictures and instructions to show you how to make an easy no-seam gusset for a knitted bag, how to make a knitted in strap, and how to line it, plus I'll share how to enlarge the tote and knit it in the round. Are you ready? OK then, come on in!

But first let's stop and look at the little dolls that Martin has designed for us--men in hats and britches and women with full fancy skirts. I love them! The nice thing about this pattern is that it uses only two colors per row but it is knit flat and seamed, so we'll do what other knitters have done and knit it in the round, plus I'll show you how to make a knitted-in no-seam bottom gusset. Before I get to the tutorials, here is the pattern link: Martin Storey Folk Bag. The recommended yarn is Rowan Felted Tweed which is perfect for this project because there are so many color choices and it's a great yarn to knit with and a good value too. My details are on my Ravelry project page.

To make the size I made, approximately 12"X13", cast on 156 stitches and join in the round to work top-down. I knit garter stitch for approximately 1 1/2" then followed the chart knitting top-down  (you will have to turn the chart upside down) to make 12 dolls around. There will be 5 dolls each for front and back and 1 doll for each side gusset. Knit the chart 1 and 1/2 times or 3 rows of dolls. I knit 3 rows between each set of dolls. Next you will make a knitted bottom gusset.

Below I have three tutorials. The first explains how I finished my no-seam bottom gusset, the second is how to make a knitted-in strap, and the third describes how I made the lining. You will have to have an idea of knitting construction and sewing principles to follow along, but I think an enthusiastic beginner will not have a problem. 

Make the bottom gusset: Once the charts are completed, knit 3 more rows in your background color. You will now knit the bottom gusset. You can knit this in one piece and sew it in place or do it the easy way as I have done and knit it in which requires no seaming. To do the latter repeat the 10 row sequence below until all stitches have been incorporated.

Keeping your circular needle in and starting at the BOR:
  1. k 12, k 2 tog TBL, turn 
  2. p 12, p 2 tog, turn 
  3. k 12, k 2 tog TBL, turn
  4. p 12, p 2 tog, turn
  5. k 12, k 3 tog TBL, turn
  6. p 12, p 3 tog, turn
  7. k 12, k 2 tog TBL, turn
  8. p 12, p 2 tog, turn
  9. k 12, k 3 tog TBL, turn
  10. p 12, p 3 tog, turn
On rows 5, 6 and 9, 10 you will speed up the decreases to accommodate the difference of gauges between rows (your gusset) and stitches (your tote body). Repeat the above 10 rows until all stitches have been incorporated. I was able to knit this using my short circulars but at the end when it got difficult to maneuver, I switched to DPNs. 

Next you will close the 13 stitch gusset seam. With a DPN, pick up 13 stitches from the gusset part of the opposite end of the bag. Turn the bag inside out and do a 3 needle bind off. 

Your bottom gusset will lay nice and flat with no seaming! 

I chose to knit one long shoulder strap rather than two small. To make the strap, pick up 13 stitches from the gusset part of the top of your bag. Your middle stitch should align exactly with the middle stitch of the little doll that falls on the side gusset of the tote. Using any stitch pattern you like (I made striped garter) knit your strap the length you prefer. 

To finish, pick up the corresponding 13 stitches from the opposite side of the top of the bag, turn inside out and do a 3 needle bind off. Again, no seaming and your strap is secure!

Knitted fabric will stretch, especially garter stitch, so to prevent that you need to line the strap. Cut a strip of lining fabric the width of your strap plus 1" and the length of your strap plus 4". Press down 1/2" along each side of the width, see above, and with sewing thread using tiny stitches, invisibly hand stitch the lining to the strap, with an overhang of 2" on either side. This overhang is not sewn to the bag and will be invisible once the bag lining is in place. The overhang is there for a little wiggle room. No need to trim.

Cut the lining the width of your bag plus 1" and the length of your bag plus minimum 5".  Using a 1/2" seam, sew seams along sides and bottom. 

Make a pocket if desired. With two pieces of fabric, seam a pocket sized square (you decide the size!) around 3 sides, turn inside out and press.  

Fold the raw sides in and press. Pin into place, with the raw side at the bottom, and machine stitch around 3 sides, making sure the opening of the pocket is at the top of course!

To make the gusset seam on your lining, first press seams open. The size of your gusset on your knitted bag will be your guide to how wide you should make the lining gusset. Fold the bottom corner as shown above and stitch across. Trim seam.  Repeat for the other side. With the lining still wrong side out, place lining inside the knitted bag and push all the way down to the bottom to fit. Finger press the raw edges down and align the lining with the knitted bag, aligning the lining seams to the exact middle of the inside of the straps. Pin into place, hiding the strap overhang and easing knitting as needed. Using tiny invisible stitches, hand stitch lining to bag, making sure any easing (if necessary) is evenly distributed across the top of the bag. You are finished! Yay you!

SALE ALERT! Rowan is having a 60% off summer clearance sale on some exquisite yarns! I stopped everything and ordered some Pebble Island is Elephant (gray) and Rockhopper (Gold) to make Chalet Days. Pebble Island is an exceptional yarn, soft and a lovely handle with a fabulous backstory.  I'm super excited about this project.  I also ordered Soft Boucle in slate and natural to make a striped Friend to Friend. Island Blend Fine and Kidsilk Haze Colour are also on sale but I had to stop somewhere! This link will take you directly to the 60% off sale page.

You can see that on picture day the flower border is full and just starting to bloom! July is its happiest month and soon it will be covered with zinnias, Shasta Daisies, roses, cosmos and nasturtiums. 

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  1. Well that's just too too cute!

  2. That tote is a conversation piece! chloe

    1. Haha, yep! I took it last night to an all girl's dinner and it was passed around the table!


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