Introduction: Knit Plastic Bag Handbag

Picture of Knit Plastic Bag Handbag

This project explains how to spin yarn from ordinary plastic grocery bags. This yarn can then be knit into a handbag.

You will need
1. All the plastic bags under your sink.
2. Scissors
3. A spindle (ancient simple spinning tool)
4. Knitting needles

Step 1: Cut Plastic Bags Into Strips

Picture of Cut Plastic Bags Into Strips

Follow a spiral pattern around the bag to get one long strip from the entire bag. Don't use your best sewing scissors for this. Cutting plastic bags dulls scissors quickly.

Step 2: Attach End of Plastic Strip to Spindle Tip and Spin

Picture of Attach End of Plastic Strip to Spindle Tip and Spin

Spindles are the simplest way to spin fiber, or plastic bags. The pictured spindle is a round piece of wood with a dowel glued through it. The end of the dowel has two narrow saw cuts at the end to attach the end of the string to .

Once attached, grab the spindle by the point of attachment and spin between your fingers. The weight on the bottom keeps the spindle spinning. Hold the plastic strip in your other hand and pay out the strip as it twists into yarn.

Step 3: Continue Spinning

Picture of Continue Spinning

As the spun yarn gets longer, wrap the yarn around the stick portion of the spindle and re-attach at the tip. Keep goiing.

Step 4: Spin Together Two Strips of Plastic

Picture of Spin Together Two Strips of Plastic

When you get to the end of one strip of plastic, you don't need to tie one strip to the next. Just overlap the two ends, fold them together and continue spinning. The twisting together will be enough to join the two strips.

Step 5: Knit Your Plastic Yarn

Sadly, I don't have action pictures of this step. The bag shown has a very simple pattern. The body of the bag is a long strip of nothing but knit stitch. The handles are another long strip of the same stitch. The two pieces were sewn together using more plastic yarn.

This bag was a first attempt. Some suggestions for improvement.

1. The fabric is surprisingly heavy duty. Keep to purse size, or make something you don't plan on lugging around. This large tote bag is a little bulky.
2. Have fun with color.


BeadDesigner (author)2012-12-15

Just a don't actually need to spin the plarn. If you cut the bags through both thicknesses, and from side to side, making them into strips, you get pieces that are kind of shaped like rubber bands, except bigger and plastic! You can then "link" them together to form one long continuous strip. That makes them twice as thick...but it should be faster working them. :)

hohum (author)2012-07-16

could one use an electric hand drill?? set on very slow to make the 'placyarn'??

great use of plastic bags, thanks for posting.

jmccleve (author)2011-09-26

Wow, these are some of the cutest and most interesting bags I have seen yet! Great work, I can always use a new handbag. I'll have to see if I can follow the instructions and make one of these.

swaopsgal (author)2011-09-23

I crocheted one of these years ago when Walmart had the gray bags. I used it as a lunch bag for work. Still have it, now it is a utlility bag in my Jeep. Takes a lot of plastic bags though :)

craftaddict (author)2010-07-23

I crocheted 2 bags one out of grocery bags and a hand bag from bags telephone books were delivered in. I tried knitting but I like crocheting better.

desya (author)2010-07-20

I made this using a knitting loom....hanging pot

Andib (author)2010-04-19

This looks like a fun project. About what size were the strips you cut? And did you use a supported spindle? Or is it easy to spin with a drop spindle?



sticksandstones (author)2010-03-07

 What type and size of needles did you use to knit up the "plarn" (Plastic Yarn)?  I put my kids to work helping me make lots of plarn, but from joined loops of bags instead of long strips.  My problem arose when I tried knitting -- the plarn was so "grabby" and sticky on the needles (I tried nickel and wood both) that it was torture to complete even a few rounds.  Perhaps the smaller diameter of the spun "plarn" makes it easier to knit.

This was done with #11 metal needles. 

foobear (author)2008-06-12

I totally don't understand spinning or how it works. A video would help.

stinkymum (author)2008-01-20

These are all the rage over in England. On my trip over there in November I was given two from old friends. They are absolutely great. I am planning to make at least one!

Dalya (author)2008-01-08

That is so awesome :D Hmm. I'm gonna see how much it costs to get the spindle and such. In my opinion, I find find knitting/crochet more relaxing than the sewing machine. I started sowing and I dunno how to get the bobbin thread underneath. It's such a headache and when you finally get the thing ready, it JAMS and clumps the thread. Ugh!

stitchwhimsy (author)2008-01-04

i just joined this site today and was surprised to see this here. I was using plastic bags as a spinning practice tool with vague ideas of what to use the spun "yarn" for next. This is a good idea.

Doctor What (author)2007-12-02

Thank you for helping the earth. This reminds me of a pod I saw on making handbags out of candy wrappers. Very cool idea.

It was partially inspired by this site:

LMO (author)2007-11-15


Kiteman (author)2007-09-06

Nice. (In the UK, don't try this with Tesco carrier bags - they biodegrade quite quickly, especially when exposed to sunlight).

Kiteman (author)Kiteman2007-09-07

I forgot to say, though, that a video of the spinning (or even a whole Instructable on spinning) would be very useful.

Maggie jiggs (author)Kiteman2007-10-23

I agree...I never heard of spinning plastic bags and that would be very interesting...I have crocheted purses with bags and was going to try knitting...It is hard on the hands but fun... Maggie Jiggs

fugazzi (author)2007-09-06

I made one of these a while ago, but instead of spinning the strips, I just knitted them in. I wanted to make grocery bags, but, like you said, it's heavier than making a bag out of yarn.

pluralmolecule (author)fugazzi2007-09-08

My original plan was to make re-usable grocery bags too, but the weight and bulk of the bag makes it impractical.

whiteoakart (author)2007-09-08

How much length did you get out of a single bag when finished spinning? About how much time does it take per bag to spin? Very cool. I see many possibilities.

One standard grocery bag yeilds about 15 feet. I timed myself spinning the strip at about 3 minutes. I suspect you could make better time with a spinning wheel if you had one. Cutting the bags takes some time too. I think if you were to do lots of these, you'd want to rig some sort of a spinning drum to put them on, then slice with a knife as the drum spins

frazeeg (author)2007-09-07

My question is what does the plastic feel like on your hand/arm? I can't say I like the feel of grocery bags on my arm (and the plastic doesn't breathe at all).

pluralmolecule (author)frazeeg2007-09-07

The strap is thick and squishy, so it doesn't cut into your hand or shoulder like a grocery bag would. It is plastic, so it's not going to breath like cotton would.

shangrilarcadia (author)2007-09-07

Good idea. I was going to make almost this exact same instructable for the go green contest awhile back, but I was going to braid the bags instead of spinning/knitting. I think knitting is a better idea.

jessyratfink (author)2007-09-06

I will have to try this. I've been wanting to do it for quite a while. :)

bruc33ef (author)2007-09-06

Terrific idea. Awhile ago the site had a page on how to crochet a sleeping bag out of plastic bag strips but sadly that page no longer exists. Still, the yarn making step was nowhere near as efficient as this one. Nice job!

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