Step 2: Cutting Your Bags Into Strips.

It is very important to cut these strips pretty wide. For most normal sized bags, it is possible to get three continuous strips about 4 inches wide. I never got out a ruler, but it's very useful to size up the side seam of the bag before you start cutting to determine how many strips you'll be able to cut.

Lay out a plastic bag, and fold in the sides as shown in picture two. Snip off the very top/handles and the very bottom. Then open the bag to its full width.

Turn the bag so a side seam is facing you, and cut up and to the right in a sweeping motion until you get at least four inches in, and then begin cutting in a straight line. When you get near the side seam, slip a hand in the bag and turn it so that the side seam is flat and you can start on the second strip.

Cut up and to the right again, mirroring the first time you did it, and then cut straight until you reach a point where you have one closed strip left. You're going to make another diagonal cut to the right, this time cutting to the very edge of the bag.

So essentially, just keep cutting towards the right and mirroring the original diagonal cut. The pictures will give you a better idea of how to do this. :)

You will need to do this to three bags to start your braid, though I suggest doing this whole process as you were a one person factory line - flatten all the bags you have, cut off the tops and bottoms, and then cut them all into strips, hanging the strips somewhere they won't get too tangled. Then begin your braiding.
<p>Great tutorial and tremendous witty, therefore I am sorting through my mass of Tesco carrier bags, ready to start constructing my own basket tomorrow. </p>
<p>Cool idea, Thanks for sharing!</p>
<p>i think i'm gonna give it a try don't have polyester thread only have sewing thread but any how gonna give it a try</p>
<p>i see someone put their time in prison to good use...</p>
Here's a quick tip for any time you're sewing something and having a rough time getting your needle into and through whatever you happen to be sewing:<br><br>Use a set of pliers to grab the back of your needle and push it into/through your item, and if you have problems pulling your needle through just grab it at the tip and pull it through with the pliers. They're convenient, and will help prevent sore fingertips!
<p>Consider cutting the bags into sheets of plastic (I usually cut the handles off and use them later, then cut the bag down the sides to open it.) then twining them. That is to say, make them into rope/twine. This will make the coils of the basket tighter and more dense than simple braids, and very thin strips of plastic bag can even be twined into string for stitching the coils together.<br><br>Also, for a taller or wider basket, you could weave the coils around 6 sticks placed around the circumference of the basket's base.<br><br>Very cool use for plastic bags though. I made netting out of mine once I twined them up into string.</p>
<p>Yes, mind the &laquo;self destruct&raquo; bags! I stored something in such a bag in one of my dresser's drawer once. It was that drawer in wich I store less used items... You got one?... You know, the one at the bottom???... Well... I opened it a couple of weeks later....... The biodegradable bag had made quite a mess! And it got stuck to the item I stored inside. Biodegradable bags are much more environmentally friendly, but beware if you want to make such a project as that basket, particularly given all the work it requires!</p>
Another way of joining the ends of the plastic strips is with a glue stick. It doesn't even have to be waterproof glue. Just overlap about 6 inches or so and put the glue on the edges, it will hold the strips together till braided then the braiding holds it. I have knitted little bags like this and even washed them and they didn't come apart.
That is the most presentable looking basket out of plastic bags I've ever seen!
Thank you for sharing this great idea. It helped me kick-off another way to basket I hadn't thought of. Also I recently came across a faster way to do this rather than sewing. Also a way to make the cordage without braiding!
How big and how much bags does it have to be/be made of to hold a weeks worth of recycling???
How big could you make your basket?
I would say maybe no bigger around or taller than a foot? The plastic bags aren't super rigid. I think you might wind up with the sides of the basket being a little droopy if it's too big!
would it work using a solder iron and melting the bags together as you coil rather than sewing them all together, I would imagine that the finished product wouldn&rsquo;t be as pretty on the inside, but do you think that it would work as well as the sewing does?
Maybe - but it would be tricky to get them to melt together properly, I think. And I'm not sure what the strength would be after the plastic had melted and then cooled again.<br><br>But it's definitely worth a shot if you don't mind the fumes!
I think the soldering iron might be fine for plastic rope, but too hot for plastic(bag) yarn (or Plarn as it's sometimes called) and pose a bit of a potential fire risk. However the heat idea might be better for reducing the number of knots needed. Use a regular clothes iron (with much more controllable heat setting then most home-use soldering irons) to melt two strips of pre-braid plastic together. <br> <br>(Warning do this OUTSIDE, NASTY FUMES) Sandwich one layer of parchment paper (might try other kinds but parchment can take the heat) one end of plastic, overlap the beginning of the next plastic strip &amp; top with more parchment. Iron where the two sheets of plastic overlap to fuse them into one long piece. As far as the strength issue, the fused plastic should be a bit stronger/less flexible then regular bag, but stronger &amp; more flexible then a knot. It would also be easier to sew through. <br> <br>Might also check out knitting/crochet sights for hints on dealing with keeping long lengths from getting tangles. Most knitters tend to use &quot;center&quot; pull yarn balls, that are bit less likely to wander off then balls that pull from outside. This could make it simpler to braid longer strands. <br> <br>( Finally, &lt;3 &lt;3 &lt;3 jessyratfink!!!! Your posts are just incredible! You ROCK, Girl!!!) <br> <br>
I have been looking for a way to recycle the plastic mesh bags that lemons,onions, etc, come in. They could be cut into strips and then braided. Also , if any type of braided material is flat enough, it can be zig-zagged together on a regular sewing machine...
Great instructable! My grandma made crochet rugs out of breadbags when I was a kid. <br>Fair warning, though--many of the new grocery bags 'self-destruct' after a short time. I've stored things in them, went to pick them up a month or so later and they crumbled. One of my friends made a beach bag out of them and by the time she finished the bottom was breaking apart! I think the softer plastic bags, like the Target bags or department store bags, will last; the 'crunchy' ones like the Safeway bags are the crumbly ones.
Thanks for the heads up on the bags breaking down. I was thinking of making one to use for collecting eggs. Guess I'll continue my search.<br>thanks again.
Ah! I had no idea. I haven't seen that happen yet with any of my bags but it's good to know. :)
Dear Jessy, I was trying to contact you through sending a private message but thought that sending a comment will be quicker. Let me introduce myself. My name is Maria Goretaya and I work as a project manager for Macmillan Publishing, Russia. At the moment I am working on a joint project together with the Russian Publishing House &quot;Russkoe Slovo&quot;. We are doing an English course for Russian secondary schools (grades 5-9). Every unit in the textbook for grade 5 contains CLIL section. These are short texts and fact files that contain interesting facts and information about English-speaking world. Besides being informative and interesting, these sections are designed to encourage cross-cultural comparison and provide further opportunities for speaking. One of the CLIL sections is devoted to things made from recycled materials. To illustrate the text and familiarise Russian students with different things made from recycled materials I would like to ask your permission to use in our textbook your photo of the basket made out of plastic bags. Please, let me know if you would like me to provide you with any further information about our project. I am looking forward to hearing from you. Kind regards, Maria Goretaya Project manager Macmillan Russia m.goretaya@macmillan.ru
Hello! I see the message now, I'll reply. :)
Nice work! I do a lot of work crocheting plastic - I might see what I can do with braids. I have braided newspapers and worked with them. too. I never made a basket, though. Maybe if I need a shorter project sometime. Right now I am working with video tape to make a sculpture.<br><br>
This is a great post!! Thank you for sharing considering how much damage plastic bags do to our eco system!! http://www.bagitmovie.com/trailer.html ~we all have to make small steps to contribute~ Namaste _/\_
You could make a braided mit for the back porch or front. I use these for pillow stuffing.
Hello!<br><br>I absolutely love this idea! I'm a big fan of everything recycled (or upcycled) and this is a wonderful easy way to get rid of all those awful plastic bags! I decided to feature this instructable on my website, if you don't mind. Here's the link:<br><br>http://www.lescreateliers.com/Les_Createliers/Idees_Ideas/Entries/2011/11/15_Panier_en_sacs_de_plastiquePlastic_bags_basket.html<br><br>Cheers!<br><br>Marie-Eve
Thanks so much for linking! :D
great work jessy...... thanks!!<br>
yeah ok thanks, I had seen it done, where they had used ropes and melted them with the solder iron, i might give it a try, see how it turns out :)
wait how many bags did it take to make a small basket like the one shown in the first picture? ANSWER back quickly please
I'd say around 30? I did not keep track the first time I did it.
sweet! i might try to make hanging plant baskets out of this
Great idea, and excellent work jessyratfink
I was not expecting the funny parts * te he*. After a gloomy day and internet failure this made my day.
The bags from Giant (grocery store) and Home Depot (home improvement store) in my area are two different shades of brown, so I am going to try to make a &quot;natural&quot; color plastic bag basket. Thanks for the inspiration!
Classy looking basket Jessy. Thanks for sharing.
Amazing reuse of a throw away by most. Nicely shaped basket.<br> We reuse ours, for collecting dogie output, on the garden lawn.<br> Great detail down to the white polyester thread that is somehow<br> dark in one pic :-)<br> <br> A<br>
We use them to collect that also. Very funny comment.
Also with the loops of bags, you won't have to double over each bag and worry about keeping the pairs together, each loop is already doubled. The added bonus would be that at the end of each braid you will have three loops that you can then attach another string of loops to without making any knots. Loving this project, BTW!
That's a great idea actually - I will probably try it with the next round. Thanks for sharing, I wouldn't have thought of it! :D<br><br>And thank you!
The other thing to consider is that you can do that kind of flat braiding with more than three strands. So you could do your entire upper part as one braid. It wouldn't be as easy, but it would be quite a bit stronger.
I did just that, after braiding eight strands of three strands I then flat braided it. I'm going to use these super strands to make a backpack instead of a basket. This DIY as a whole was awesome; thanks for posting.
from now nobody is going to trow a bag away if I know it :D<br>this is an awesome idea! 5 stars for this!
cool idea! :)
Thank you!
Your welcome! :)
try wood glue its clear....
hmmm, I wander if it would be easier and sturdier to glue the braids together instead of sewing them? <br>THank you for inspiration!!!
I don't know - I guess it'd just be a matter of finding the right sort of glue and using a lot of it. Definitely worth a try though. :)<br><br>And you're welcome!
The glue thing is a bad idea. Any glue to hold plastic securely has a solvent base of some sort to it. Which could potentially melt or break down the plastic bags. No, the sewing method seems to be the best choice.<br><br>I was thinking zip ties too. But that would be a LOT of zip ties for a decent sized basket. May not be very cost effective.<br><br>Great instructable. I'm going to try it this weekend. Thanks for creating this one.

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Bio: part of the Instructables Design Studio by day, stitch witch by night. follow me on instagram @makingjiggy to see what i'm working on! ^_^
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