Most crocheted fabric is, inherently, flexible; the space between stitches and elasticity of the yarn combine to let the crocheted fabric give -- and usually spring back -- when you tug on it. This element of give is a useful characteristic for garments and other fitted items, but can be frustrating when you spend hours crocheting a tote bag, just to have the handle stretch so low that the bag ends up whacking you in the knee. Fortunately, you have your pick of several ways of reducing the handle’s stretch, either during or after the crocheting.
Crochet the handle using a tight stitch, such as single crochet. The tighter the stitch, the less the handle will stretch.
Work the handle in a few long rows, crocheting from one attachment point across to the other, instead of working back and forth in short rows along the width of the handle. Crochet stretches most when pulled from the top and bottom, so working the rows “sideways” will reduce the handle’s give.
Line your crocheted bag’s handle with a woven fabric; stitch it into place with a coordinating color of thread. This will both pad the handle a bit and keep the handle from stretching. If you line the body of the bag, too, you won’t have to worry about small items getting caught or slipping out through the stitches.
Thread leftover yarn through a yarn needle and weave one end into the body of the bag, near where the handle meets the bag. Then work the other end of the yarn along one edge of the handle, weaving in and out along its length or running the yarn straight through the stitches on the underside of the handle. Weave the end of the yarn into the body on the other side of the bag, then do the same with another piece of leftover yarn, running it along the other edge of the handle. This reinforces the handle and greatly reduces its "stretch factor."
If you’re intent on using a stitch pattern that creates a stretchy handle, work the handle deliberately short, then stretch and block it to the desired final length. If the yarn’s already stretched out, it won’t have as much give when loaded.
You can also reduce the stretch in a crocheted handle by using less-elastic materials, such as jute yarn and some types of cotton.