Saturday, February 16, 2013

Re-purposing Plastic Bags

A couple of weeks ago I watched a video clip about a woman who makes purses out of plastic bags.  The video was not specifically about it or how she does it; she was just talking about how she started using eco friendly materials (newspapers and plastic bags) to create her baskets and purses respectively.

So, it inspired me to learn about plastic bags and how you can use them to create something nice and useful.  After a couple of searches on Pinterest, I had all I needed :).  I  learned that plastic bag yarn is called plarn (I assume it comes from plastic yarn), and the easiest way to make the yarn from plastic bags.  Here is a link explaining how to make yarn from plastic bags; this is the method I use - a continuous string from beginning to end of the bag.  I should mention, though, that the most popular method I see out there on the net is by cutting the bag across in strips; with this method you end up with loops the width of the bag that you then have to connect to each other to make yarn.
Basket with plarn
Plastic bag yarn (plarn) inside a basket made with an old t-shirt and baking string

I spent a couple of hours cutting bags and making plarn  (see picture above) and then started crocheting - I decided I liked the look of the crocheted items the best.  The first thing I made was a little bowl from those plastic bags you put your fruit and vegetables in at the supermarket (very thin, bunched up at the bottom - you know the ones?).  Because I only had very large or very small crochet needles, I went with the small.  Here is what the bowl turned out like:
Basket crocheted with plarn
Basket made with plarn from thin fruit/vegetable plastic bags - scraps of hemp were crocheted on  the edge
I then made a couple of more bowls with different colored bags to see how they would turn out - the white/red one is still in progress, but I wanted to show the plarn so you could see what it looks like:
Basket crocheted with plarn
Basket crocheted with plastic bags
Plarn basket in progress
In-progress basket made from white with red writing/logos plastic bags

I wanted to try something a bit more useful; I love the bowls, but I wanted to make something I could carry with me.  Considering I know only a couple of crochet stitches and no concept of how you should go about making something like this, it didn't turn out so bad, did it?  I added a couple of small antique buttons to close it, and they just fit into the crocheted holes.
Business card holder made from plarn
3 views of my business card holder I will carry with me from now on :)

After that I got a bit more daring :).  I decided to make a bag.  I thought it would be a bag to carry stuff in, but half-way through, it started looking more like a purse... lol... as I said, I have no idea what I'm doing with crochet, I just make it up as I go along.  So... this is what my new purse looks like; it was made with white bags with black writing, and one grey bag (for the outlines).  The button is an antique button from my stash, and this time I did make a button hole :).
One of a kind purse with "stuff" in it.  It does stand up on its own.

The empty finished purse

I hope my attempts inspire you to try it out.  Let me know if you do and how it turns out.  Would love to see pictures :)