Choosing the best yarn for crochet bags is not something you want to get wrong. Most crochet bag projects are at least moderately time consuming, and discovering at the finish that you chose an unsuitable yarn is soul destroying. But getting it right doesn’t have to be a headache – there are plenty of excellent fibers to choose between. The best yarn for crochet bags is attractive, strong, and hard wearing. Medium weight or bulky yarns containing unmercerized cotton or linen are tried and tested favorites, but there are some alternatives which might surprise you. Here are half a dozen yarns which meet all my criteria for making beautiful and functional crochet bags.
What to look for in yarn for making crochet bags
Crochet bags are different to almost any other type of project, because they need to be able to support the weight of their contents, and withstand being
Most wools and acrylic yarns are pretty elastic – meaning they’re prone to sagging out of shape if you try using them for bags. Cottons and linens are less stretchy, which makes them more suitable. An exception to this is making bags from pure wool, in order to felt them. Felting pure wool matts the fibers and reduces their elasticity. Eventually though, all crochet bags will eventually sag to some degree if they’re used to carry heavy items like books and water bottles. The best way to overcome this is to make a fabric lining.
Most crochet bags are made with medium weight DK and worsted weight yarns. Lighter yarns are generally not robust enough, but they are sometimes good for making string market bags that fold down into the smallest space possible between uses. Heavier yarns mean you’ll end up putting as much effort into carrying the weight of your bag as the weight of its contents! But they can be good fun for statement purses.
Crossbody bags and tote bags bounce and rub against our clothes when we carry them. This produces friction that can lead to unattractive pilling. Smooth fibers and tightly twisted yarns with multiple plies (sections) are more resistant to pilling than fuzzy, loosely twisted, single ply yarns.
Yarns which aren’t colorfast can bleed in the laundry, and also transfer dye onto clothes when they’re in use – especially if you get caught in the rain! Commercially produced bulk-dyed yarns tend to be more colorfast than hand painted and hand dyed yarns, but it’s always worth experimenting with a test swatch before making a commitment!
6 of my favorite bag-making yarns
My top six yarns for making crochet bags, and some of the bags I’ve made with them are:
- Lily Sugar’n Cream Worsted
- Patons 100% Cotton DK
- Premier Ribbon
- Scheepjes Softfun
- Patons Linen
- Malabrigo Worsted
Some of the images in this article are Amazon affiliate links, which I’ve added so you can see what the yarns look like. We may also earn a small commission if you make a purchase through them. This is at no extra cost to you, and the yarn suggestions are still all my own – we haven’t received any compensation from the manufacturers for including them.
Lily Sugar’n Cream Worsted
Lily’s Sugar’n Cream yarns* are icons on the cotton landscape. Made from 100% American grown cotton, they come in a range of weights and dizzying array of solid and variegated colors. This yarn isn’t mercerized, so there’s more friction when you work with it. Which is useful for constructing heavy duty tote bags, or boxy bags that need to hold their shape a bit.
Patons 100% Cotton DK
Patons’ cotton DK* is a light weight mercerized yarn. Since it’s very smooth and relatively fine, it’s perfect for making string grocery bags. This bag is made with Patons 100% cotton DK in the shade ‘nougat’. I think the slight sheen produced by the mercerized yarn combined with the Pepto Bismol pink really enhances the whole retro-kitsch vibe!
A slightly heavier alternative is yarn giant Lion Brand’s 24/7 Cotton*, and ultra-smooth, mercerized, worsted weight cotton.
Premier’s Ribbon yarn is a super bulky blend of 65% cotton and 35% polyester. It’s great for bags because it has minimal stretchiness, and even the roomiest of totes can be worked up relatively quickly. It’s also exceptionally hard wearing and washable, but unfortunately the range of colors is rather limited.
Scheepjes Softfun is a smooth and bouncy blend of 60% cotton and 40% acrylic. It’s the perfect fiber for crochet bags that you want to feel soft enough to use as a pillow at the beach or on the bus! This solid granny square bag is one of my current works in progress. It’s made using one ball each of Softfun in the shades canary, clay, olive, pine, mahogany, wheat and latte.
In fact, Softfun comes in 89 colors from deeply saturated jewel tones to fresh pastels, and it’s really good value. Which makes it the perfect yarn for experimenting and designing your own patterns with.
Patons Linen is a light DK yarn spun from 65% cotton and 35% linen. Linen yarns can be notoriously hard on fingers, but reviewers say this one is soft and comfortable to use. It will age beautifully when used for bags with a boho aesthetic. An alternative is Lion Brand’s Touch of Linen yarn*, which is slightly heavier (worsted weight), and contains 49% linen.
Malabrigo is a premium yarn brand, and their worsted yarn is 100% merino wool from Uruguayan sheep herds, hand dyed in a kaleidoscope of mouthwatering shades. Since it’s single plied and pure wool, it’s ideal for making crochet bags that are destined to be felted. If you don’t felt it, be warned that it will pill furiously as soon as you put your bag into use!
Best yarn for crochet bags – summary
Several types of yarn are suitable for making crochet bags. For bags that are going to be felted, choose a single-ply pure wool, so the fibers are as exposed as possible, ready for matting together. For string market bags, lightweight cottons are ideal, because they fold up small in between uses. And for everything else, look at DK or worsted weight cottons, linens, or blends of those fibers. They are hardwearing, and least prone to sagging.
Let us know what yarn has caught your eye, and the pattern you have in mind, in the comments box down below!