Pin this on Pinterest

Knit a beaded bag

Learn the bead knitting technique of plaited knitting. The beaded purse you knit today will become tomorrow’s family heirloom!

A museum collection of antique bead-knitted purses sparked my interest in learning how they were made. Purse-making techniques have not changed much in the past few hundred years, even though I now use a computer to create my patterns. My favorite beaded purses feature scenes with castles and houses, elements I incorporate into my designs.


purse (with fringe) 4 1⁄2 x 6 3⁄4 in. (11.4 x 17.1 cm)

  • accent bead for drawstring
  • 11/0 seed beads in 12 colors: off-white, dark red, medium blue, pink, light green,medium green, dark green, light brown, medium brown, black, white, maize
  • 2 balls size 8 Perle Cotton thread
  • beading thread, size D
  • 2 ft. (61 cm) silk cord
  • knitting needles, size 0000
  • Big Eye needle
  • beading needles, #10
  • tapestry needle
  • beading mat
  • scrap paper for row markers
  • 2 washcloths
  • lining fabric (optional) 


EDITOR’S NOTE: Knitters use a variety of knitting methods, and other sources may include instructions for plaited or twisted stockinet stitch that differ from those described in this story. For this project, it is important to study the instructions for bead knitting and follow the stitching directions. You may need to adapt the method you usually use to produce the desired result. Practice the plaited knitting technique without beads to refine your skills.

DESIGNER’S NOTE: This advanced knitting project uses size 0000 knitting needles, size 8 Perle Cotton thread, and 11/0 seed beads. If this is your first bead-knitting project, practice the stitches using size 1 needles, thin cotton or acrylic yarn, and 6/0 seed beads.



Knit a beaded purse pattern
Download the PDF to print the pattern full-sized. 

1. Cut 80 pieces of paper 1⁄2 in. (1.3 cm) square. Pierce each piece in the center with a beading needle. Set the squares aside.

2. Attach a Big Eye needle to the end of a ball of Perle Cotton thread. Unwind 10 yd. (9.1 m) of thread from the ball. Following the pattern shown below, pick up each row of beads beginning with row 80 in the upper-right corner of the pattern. Pick up a square of paper between each row. Pick up rows 80–41 on the first ball of thread, following the direction of the arrows. There are no beads in rows 72–70. Push the beads toward the ball of thread. Wrap the ball of thread in a dry washcloth. Wind the beaded thread around the cloth to prevent it from tangling as you knit.

3. Repeat step 2 with the second ball of thread, picking up rows 40–1, beginning on the right edge of the pattern.


1. With the ball strung with beads for rows 1–40, cast on 54 stitches, leaving a 2-ft. (61 cm) tail. For each row, you will stitch two selvage stitches without beads, 50 stitches with beads, and two selvage stitches without beads.

2. Purl one row in plaited knitting without beads.

3. Knit two stitches in plaited knitting without beads. Knit 50 stitches in plaited knitting with beads (row 1 of the pattern). Knit two stitches in plaited knitting without beads.

4. Purl two stitches in plaited knitting without beads. Purl 50 stitches in plaited knitting with beads. Purl two stitches in plaited knitting without beads.

5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 through row 69. Tie the tails of the first and second balls of prestrung beads together with an overhand knot after row 40. The beads will be offset by one bead at the end of each row.

6. Purl row 70 in standard purl without beads.

7. Knit row 71 in standard knitting without beads as follows: Knit six, knit two stitches together, and yarn over. Repeat five times. Knit six to complete the row.

8. Purl row 72 in standard purl without beads.

9. Repeat steps 3 and 4 to complete rows 73–80 in plaited knitting. Bind off all the stitches. Set the panel aside.

10. Make a second bead-knitted panel.

Knit a beaded purse Photo A
Knit a beaded purse Photo B
Knit a beaded purse Photo C
Knit a beaded purse Photo D

1. Thread the tails from each panel onto a tapestry needle, and sew the side and bottom edges of the panels together with a mattress stitch.

2. To add a row of interlocked-loop fringe to the bottom of the purse, add a comfortable length of beading thread in the beadwork, and exit a bottom edge purl stitch. Pick up 50 seed beads. Sew through the next purl stitch. Repeat across the bottom of the purse, looping the row of beads through the previous loop (PHOTO A) before sewing through the next purl stitch. End the thread, and trim.

3. To add a row of picot stitches to the top edge of the purse, add a comfortable length of beading thread in the beadwork, and exit an 11/0 at the top corner of the purse. Pick up three 11/0s, and sew through the next 11/0. Repeat around the top of the purse (PHOTO B). End the thread, and trim.

4. You may choose to insert a lining in your purse. Cut two pieces of lining fabric 1⁄2 in. (1.3 cm) larger than the purse on all sides. Leaving a 1⁄2-in. (1.3 cm) seam allowance, sew the two pieces together along the side edges and bottom. Trim seams to 1⁄8–1⁄4 in. (3–6 mm). With the wrong side of the lining facing out, insert the lining into the purse. Fold the top edge of the fabric down below the rows without beads. Pin, and sew the lining in place (PHOTO C).

5. Cut a 24-in. (61 cm) piece of silk cord for a drawstring. Feed the cord through one of the two center-back eyelets. Continue around the eyelet row, zigzagging through the openings (PHOTO D). Pull the drawstring tight, and tie an overhand knot 8 in. (20 cm) from the purse. Slide an accent bead over both ends of the cord, and tie another overhand knot. Trim the cord 1 in. (2.5 cm) from the accent bead.

Knit a beaded purse inspiration a
Knit a beaded purse inspiration b
Knitting beaded purses was popular during the Victorian era. For this project, I took my inspiration from the two purses shown above. The left bead-knitted purse was made during the 1850s. It may have been used for a memorial or funeral, as it shows a woman sitting on a bench beside a tombstone. The other purse was made by Elisa V. Caldwell around 1832 and depicts a village scene.

Photos of antique purses used with permission. Purse with image of woman: From the collection of Paula Higgins as pictured in A Passion for Purses by Lori Blaser and Paula Higgins. Purse with village scene: Kathy Burch, Tri-State Antiques, Canonsburg, Pennsylvania.
FIND MORE: home decor , knitting , seed beads

Do you beading?

Then you’ll want to subscribe to Bead&Button magazine! You’ll get exclusive projects, gorgeous design inspirations, helpful advice about new products, and much more!

Want to leave a comment?

Only registered members of are allowed to leave comments. Registration is FREE and only takes a couple minutes.

Login or Register now.
Get awesome news, tips, & free stuff!