How to make a crocheted skull purse

My last post mentioned a few projects I have in progress.  But this one jumped ahead in the queue!

The inspiration for this wee skull bag was a good friend of mine.  Specifically, on her birthday Voltaire was performing at The Church (goth club, a different kind of worship) with a “pirate” theme.  Now, my friend Deb and I don’t always exchange gifts but I decided to make her a wee little purse for her birthday.  She didn’t end up coming up for the show after all and I couldn’t go, either, but still, who can’t use a good skull purse?

"I want your skuuull, I need your skuuull!"

Cute little lacy skull bag

Now, I’ll tell you right off that I made the skull purse out of crochet thread size 3, but because the pattern for the crocheted fabric base (called “base” here on out) works out to finished dimensions, not a certain number of stitches you can use whatever thread or yarn you have on hand, and any pattern for the bag so long as you hit approximately the same dimensions as mine, which are listed below.

I want your skull

The first thing I made was the skull motif.  Why?  Because the pattern I used didn’t mention dimensions and I wanted to make sure the motif and the bag were proportionate to each other.

And speaking of skull patterns, there are hundreds of them online.  But most of them are cute and I wanted one that glowered a bit.  So I happened across this one by fellow skull-lover Yella  that included a full photo tutorial.

wee skull purse 04



I wanted mine rather stiff so I used a hook a little smaller than you’re supposed to with the thread I used and I worked a very tight gauge.  I normally have a tight hand, anyway, but I really tugged on the thread to work the skull.  I also added a row of sc along the entire edge because I thought it would add a bit more rigidity.  It did.

Crochet the base for the bag

Thee pattern for the black base came from the book The Complete Book of Crochet Stitch Designs,  it’s stitch #176.  This and its companion book The Complete Book of Crochet Border Designs are my favorite stitchionaries.  I should probably do reviews.  Anyway.

Stitch #176 looks like this in the book:

wee skull purse 05

Pretty, isn’t it?  I chose it because it’s nearly solid but still has enough gaps that I could use some unbleached muslin as a liner that would show through.  And of course I planned to do it using black crochet thread, not the natural as shown in the book.

I decided to make the purse pretty small, as Deb likes small bags and it wasn’t intended as an every-day bag.  So my finished dimensions, folded into place, measured about 5″ x 5″.

Now, obviously I wanted to work a front and a back and a flap, so I doubled the finished height of 5″ and added 2-1/2″ more for the flap.

Total size of finished crocheted base: 5″ wide by 12-1/2″ high.

If you want to create your own skull bag but don’t have the book I used for the pattern, hit up a stitchionary and find a fabric pattern you like and just work it to the 12-1/2″ by 5″ dimensions.  Easy!

Next, fold that bitch. You’ll be folding over 5″ and the remainder over as a flap.  If you didn’t choose a two-sided stitch for the base, be sure to use the “right” side of the base as the outside of the bag.  Do not stitch the sides of the base together yet.

Attaching the skull

Then pin the skull onto the flap of the base.  I wanted to use the nose as a buttonhole, so I pinned mine into place and set the button on it to be sure it looked right.

Using coordinating sewing thread, stitch on the skull to the flap.  Stitch it down really well because the skull is the bag closure and will get a lot of wear.  Tip:  I didn’t want the cream-colored thread to show on the back side of the flap so I used a Sharpie to color over the thread.  Then stitch the button to the base where it can button through the nose hole of the skull.

Add a lining

Now for the lining!  Lay 2 pieces of fabric on top of one another with right sides together.  Cut to 6″ wide by 13-1/4″ high.  Using a 5/8″ seam allowance, stitch up the 2 long sides and one short side, leaving the other short side open.  Clip the corners up to your seam.  Turn fabric right-size out, press, and stitch the other short side by hand or machine.  You should have a rectangle of fabric measuring just less than 5″ wide by about 12″ high.  You don’t have to hit those exact measurements.

Pick up your folded-but-unseamed crocheted base and place the lining inside it, folding it to fit the folds of the base.  Keeping the lining folded, pull the lining out of the base and stitch up the left and right sides of the lining by hand or machine, right next to the edges.  You’ll have a little fabric envelope.

wee skull purse 02

Strappy strap

Next you’ll want to work a crocheted strap, or use a ready-made one, or use ribbons, or make a fabric strap.   Whatevs.  I worked a long length of dc sts with a tight gauge as the strap, making it long enough to go over the shoulder so the bag hung at about hip level.  No matter what kind of strap you use, you’ll want to stitch it to the lining, not the crocheted bag, so the finished bag is stronger.  Overlap the edges of the strap about 1″ down the side seams of the fabric envelope and hand-stitch down with lots of stitches.

Finishing it up

Finally, you’ll stitch the left and right sides of the base together.  Insert the lining one last time and hand-stitch it into place along all edges, making sure to tack the bottom 2 corners of the lining down to the bottom 2 corners of the base.

You can see the size of the bag in relation to my hand, as well as my custom tag.

You can see the size of the bag in relation to my hand, as well as my custom tag.

Et voilà!  You have a wee skull bag.

If you make one, do brag about it and share a pic in the comments!  I’d love to see yours.


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