Useful & Durable 7 Strand Rope (cord) from Plastic Shopping Bags

Picture of Useful & Durable 7 Strand Rope (cord) from Plastic Shopping Bags
I basically combined two other instructables that I've read in the past. One was making plastic "yarn" out of plastic shopping bags.  I guess people here are calling it "plarn" now.   The other was braiding cordage/rope from smaller strands of string/thread/cord/rope. Both techniques I've found highly useful with a lot of my projects.

With this one I combined both and made a very useful cord/rope out of mere shopping bags that were going into the recycling bin anyway. The end product is pretty handy. It's very strong, it's waterproof, and it's practically free.

I'd be willing to bet that if I took 7 of these ropes (that I made here) and wove them into a larger rope, I could easily use it to tow a car!  No seriously.

Now a few people have made ropes from plastic bags here on instructables, but they twisted them.  This project makes a much more aesthetically pleasing braided 7 part rope. 

You could use it for pet leashes, fishing stringers, shoelaces, camping gear, jumping ropes, or even a rock sling.  The limits are practically endless. It would make a great boy-scout/girl-scout or school project too. For ideas with what you can do with the rope just search here at Instructables for "knot" or "decorative knot". My personal favorite is "Monkey Fist"... look it up!

So make your own and please let everyone know what you used yours for!  If you send me a picture I'll post it on this instructable!
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Step 1: Materials List

Picture of Materials List
1 or more plastic shopping bags
1 small piece of cardboard
1 pair of scissors
natelea4 months ago

I haven't finished reading, but thanks for putting this part in! It's really helpful to know approximately how many bag I'll be needing!

ajones971 year ago
I spooled the core n it went fast. I also made a 32 slot loom to make bags. It made the bottom a breeze then I macramed the top.
ajones971 year ago
Have you used this to sheath another cord. I've been using it to sheath my reverse twist and it solves the unraveling problem .(BTW you free hang your spool for the inherent twist and the tightness of the twist is the strength. I use 1/3bag strands and tie down comercial loads with them.)
DrPeper (author)  ajones971 year ago
I actually have used it to sheathe other items, but it's difficult to do by hand. I'm hoping that once I make a mechanical braiding machine, this will make it easier.
ajones971 year ago
Try the reverse twist method. It is faster and the tensile strength is much higher.
DrPeper (author)  ajones971 year ago
Hello! Thank you for your comment. I personally don't find the reverse twist method to be of much value, particularly with this material. It produces an inherent twist into the cord, and braided offers much more flexibility. I've never found reverse twisting to be anywhere near the tensile strength of braided, but maybe that's just me?
As already said.. great use for your old bags. On your next rope sling why not put a loop at the 1 end to make it numpty proof as 1 end will always stay with the slinger.
DrPeper (author)  psycophonic1 year ago
I actually did do that, the numpty didn't use it!
bcavaciuti1 year ago
cool ible and i will probably try this some time its a good skill to know...just saying us english dont use the imperial system anymore except for miles which are slowly leaving. we use metric for the majority of things including measurements.
DrPeper (author)  bcavaciuti1 year ago
Yep, I was aware of that, that's why I wrote all the measurements with Metric as well. Personally I'd love to see the Imperial system be phased out in the US, but it doesn't look like it's happening any time soon.
ezbuzzit1 year ago
great use for old shopping bags. :)
DrPeper (author)  ezbuzzit1 year ago
Yeah, I get a kick out of finding new ways to utilize them.
Doohickey2 years ago
I made a 'stretched' version of the loom, which has a slit rather than a round hole in the middle and I plan on using it on the seatbelts of our car to stop them from digging into my neck. I wonder if it will work on 'flat' surfaces as well? We will see! ;)

P.S. My mother made a small, wooden version of the loom with pins in the middle so you can put them together and take them apart without wrecking it. She uses it to 'color code' her USB cables :D
DrPeper (author)  Doohickey1 year ago
Wow! That seatbelt idea sounds interesting.

Your Mothers idea sounds interesting as well. Love to see pictures of both.
Housedog1 year ago
Great ible!
Can't wait to do something with it.

Nice dig at your wife for her time wasting habits! lol
DrPeper (author)  Housedog1 year ago
Hope to have inspired you. And for a time there I was so sick to death of watching "America's Next Top Bimbo".
Thanks for this walkthrough. I used it to make a twine overbraid on an electrical cord... worked great.
DrPeper (author)  freeman.matt2 years ago
That is AWESOME!! Great work!
Boppylop2 years ago
Awesome! Ive been looking for a rope or cord just like this, and this is free and a good pastime! THANKS SO MUCH!!!
DrPeper (author)  Boppylop2 years ago
I'm glad you found it. I'd love to see pictures of your final project?
I wish. Between school, homework, and the surprisingly large stack of books im currently reading, i dont have the time right now.
doxiemama2 years ago
I love this. I've made cord like this with yarn but plarn never occurred to me. So, do you just tuck the ends in as you go?
Oh never mind.....I read again....there are NOT knots because you are working with LOOPS. Thanks.
mole13 years ago
Wow! This is a great ible!
Braiding cord is a life skill useful to anyone anywhere. I especially like the cardboard loom - light weight, free, and easy to make. Thanks for sharing this!
DrPeper (author)  mole13 years ago
Thank you. I just used this technique to weave 7 strands of white 100lb dyneema (think spectra, the stuff they make bullet proof vests out of) fishing line. To make a super strong and smooth cord. I wanted a cool lanyard for my leatherman, but I think I'm going to try weaving a bow string for my long bow the same way.
geckotui3 years ago
forgot to tell you that since I am quite hard on things I figured I would wreck the cardboard quite quickly so I used the lid from a 2 L plastic ice cream container to make my circle loom
7 stranwoven rope (1).jpg
DrPeper (author)  geckotui3 years ago
Brilliant! I like it. Capital thinking. Truth be told the corrugated cardboard that I use does wear down a bit during the braiding. But it also doesn't harm the Plarn either. But I will definitely expand my material source options on my next project.
geckotui3 years ago
Amazing !! I gave it a whirl and at first I thought it would taker forever then couldn't stop making the plastic yarn ! The "rope" is growing and growing as you can't wait to see what the next lot of plastic bags color looks like - I plan on using this for a clothes line on the deck but it could well turn up in arty gift wrap ties, decorations for a yurt or whatever else takes my fancy. Thanks for this and I have a use for all those bags and a talking point for our visitors who are all whizzing off to try it themselves !
DrPeper (author)  geckotui3 years ago
I'm happy to have inspired you! I've actually woven a bag out of them too using a circle loom. But I just haven't had the time to finish the Instructable on it.

I'd love to see pictures of your rope so that I could post them on the project page?
Hi again
here is the first section of the rope I made from your instructable :) I am wrapped with it - learnt that I should have looped the joins but went for a textured look at the beginning and it came out too thick where the joins were so quickly learnt to leave out the knots ! I have used cornflake bags, bread bags and a red shopping bag that gave neat colors - then added frozen bean wrappers, frozen pea wrappers and whatever else came to hand !
Here's the photo so you can see it and feel free to use it wherever you want.
Thanks again and you have inspired the ladies at my craft group as well !
7 stranwoven rope (3).jpg
A close up of my rope for you to see
thank you !
7 stranwoven rope (5).jpg
DrPeper (author)  geckotui3 years ago
Wow this is great! I hadn't thought of doing one so colorful. The most that I've done is to keep them all the same colors then abruptly changing the color to brown bags, which makes bands in the length of different colors.

Glad to have inspired you!
wow, a great instructable !!!
I really want to try it out sometimes, it looks a great "on the go or in the row" project too. I wonder how it feels working with a cardboard loom, I think it's a pleasant feeling, and along with the sound of ristling plarn ...
O my, I HAVE to finish my christmas cards first, and a present for my pregnant friend ...
Succes with the belt and the sling shot, a great pitty it got lost, but mostly a second time makes it better ;-)
DrPeper (author)  ShirCraftalot4 years ago
Thank you! The Sling is almost done. All that is left is the knot at the top and to finish weaving the projectile basket. But I'm sitting on publishing this one until there's a good contest to enter it into. The belt I'm still working on from time to time. I'm still trying to get enough length for the final weave. Plus I have to start thinking about a buckle. I need to find someone with a piece of ruined luggage or backpack to harvest parts off of.
rimar20004 years ago
Great work, thanks!
DrPeper (author)  rimar20004 years ago
DrPeper (author) says: Gracias, señor! Me gustan tus proyectos también. En concreto;

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