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Make a Reusable Bag …with Plastic Bags

October 31, 2010

Carrie shows the size of needle needed.

Sooner or later, we all get stuck with plastic bags. Even if you swear by your eco-friendly canvas tote, you may forget to bring it or forget to hand it to the grocery store clerk before he or she puts all your stuff in a plastic bag. You thought you could get away from plastic bags and yet here they are, cluttering up your house.

Here is a fun craft you can make with all those pesky plastic bags, courtesy of my room mate and green guru, Carrie Tanner. If you already know how to crochet, this should be easy. If not, see this tutorial for help.

You will need:
Plastic bags, preferably at least two colors.
Crochet needle (size I)

Making the “Thread”

1. Fold a plastic bag in an according like style, each layer should be an inch to two inches in width.


Carrie has folded the bag into an accordion shape.

2. Cut off the bottom of the bag as well as the bag’s handles.

Carrie has cut off the bottom of the bag and the handles.

3. Hold the bag vertically, make horizontal slits to make inch wide sections on the bag.

Carrie makes small slits into the folded bag.

Carrie has finished cutting slits in the folded bag.

4. Unfold the bag.

Carrie holds up the unfolded bag to demonstrate how the bag should look after cutting it.

5. Pick a point at the edge of your bag where the strands are still connected and make a diagonal cut from the outside strand of the bag to the slit on the strand next to it.

6. Move to the strand left of the last one you cut. Cut this strand diagonally to the next slit over, just like the last one. Do this across the row of connected strands. (Ultimately, you will want one long ribbon. There should only be two ends when you finish)

7. Now, make straight cuts where all the other strands are connected. If you do this correctly you should have one long continuous strand of plastic ribbon.

Carrie holds up the long plastic ribbon.

Crocheting Your Bag

1. Make a slip-knot on one end. To make a slip knot, first wrap one end of the ribbon around two fingers.

Pull the short end of the strand through the loop you’ve made to make another small loop

Pull the longer end of the strand tight to make a knot

Carrie pulls the slip knot tight.

Adjust the loop by pulling on the short strand. Fit the loop to the needle.

Carrie fits the slip knot to the crochet needle.

2. Pull the strand towards you draping it over the needle.

3. Using the hook on the end of the needle, pull the draped strand through the first loop you made with the knot. By doing this you should have another loop. (Repeat this until you reach the width that you want your bag to be. Carrie suggests making 40 loops to make this bag.) You should have one long chain.

4. Make another long ribbon with a new bag by repeating steps 1 through 7. Tie one end of the ribbon to one end of your chain.

5. Then, start stitching! If you look on the top of your first chain, you should see small V’s in your chain.

Go through the first V, cross the strand over the needle and pull the strand through the V making a loop. Then, cross the strand over again and pull the end strand through the first loop. You should end up with one loop.

Repeat this process at the next V until you have reached the end of the row. You can alternate colors if you want or even make a pattern. It’s all up to you!

(Note: Carrie has double-stitched most of this bag. We are showing you the single stitch to make it easier to understand. To learn the double stitch click here.)
The Handles

1. Once you have made a few rows of stitches, it is time to make the handle. (Carrie says she usually makes 4 rows, but you should make at least enough rows so that the handle won’t break when you’re holding it.)

To do this, start stitching until you get about a third of the way down the row of your bag. (Carrie says she does 10 stitches across before starting the handle.)

2. Then, we are going to make a small chain just like you did when you started the bag. Keep making links on the chain until it fits the size of your hand. (Carrie usually does 10 stitches across)

Carrie creates a chain about a third of the way down the bag's row to make the handle.

Carrie shows how the chain for the handle is made just like the chain made to start the bag.

3. Once you have the chain, attach it to the stitches below making sure you skipped as many stitches as there are in the chain. (So, if you have a make a handle chain of 10 stitches, count over 10 links on the bag.) To attach the chain, simply thread the needle through the rest of bag and continue stitching like you did before we started the handle.

You should have made a small opening in the bag.

The finished handle should look like a small opening.

4. Continue stitching your bag regularly until you have the length you want. Then make another handle just like the first one you made.

One Last Step
1. Fold the bag over so that the handles and the tops of the bags line up. You will be stitching the two sides together.

To do this, cross your last strand over the needle and put it through the the corner loops of the two ends of the bag. Stitch the sides together just as you did the rest of the bag. (Repeat this step on the other side)

Congratulations, you’re finished! Carrie has given all her bags away as gifts, but here’s a picture from a knitting site.

If you’re not the crafty type, you can always recycle your bags at these stores in Columbia:

  • Gerbes
  • Hy-Vee
  • Lowe’s
  • Schnucks
  • Wal-Mart
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