This project is super fun, and it helps you to be eco-friendly and put would-be trash to use! Any background on weaving and sewing (even if it's minimal) will be very helpful to complete this project. Also, a sewing machine is highly recommended. I needed about eight medium-sized shopping bags to make this. I hope you enjoy!
This tutorial makes a bag with the following dimensions:
- front/back: 11 x 13 in
- left/right sides: 13 x 6 in
- bottom: 11 x 6 in
However, if you want a larger bag, just increase the number of 1-inch slits in the cardboard loom and weave the pattern accordingly.
- large piece of cardboard
- 8-14 old shopping bags (the more durable the plastic, the better)
- scotch tape
- sewing machine with thread
- alternative: twine and .5 mm durable metal sewing needle
- ModPodge (optional)
- foampaint brush (optional)
Step 1: Setup
materials for set-up:
- 8-12 medium sized shopping bags
- note: the size of your bags as well as the quantity you'll need will vary greatly depending on how large you want your bag to be.
- large piece of cardboard (for the loom)
- tape (optional)
- You'll first need to set up your loom. I used a piece of cardboard that measures about 1.5 ft x 2 ft. Horizontally across the top, measure every inch (and mark with a pencil), then cut 13 slits measuring 1 inch in depth. Then, vertically along the left hand side, measure every inch (and mark with a pencil) for and cut 13, 1-inch slits. Your loom should look similar to the one pictured.
- Next, cut the handles and the bottoms off of all of your shopping bags.
- Cut one-inch strips going horizontally across the bags. You should be left with ring-like strips of plastic.
- Tie knots at one end of all of the strips.
Step 2: Starting Your Weave (front of Bag)
- Place 13 strips across the top by inserting the knotted end into the slit (the knot prevents it from sliding out). Feel free to create a pattern like I did.
- Don't overcomplicate this part. The weave is a simple over-under pattern. Take another strip and thread it through a slit on the left hand side. Start your over-under weave. (If you don't know how to do this, reference this video staring at 2:00 : VIDEO)
- When you get to the end, fold over the excess, staple it where it intersects the last vertical strip, then trim off the rest of the excess.
- Continue your over-under pattern until you get to the planned dimensions. Since the front of the bag is 11 x 13 inches, repeat 11 times (13 is the width and that's already accounted for by the vertical strips)
- When you get to the bottom, staple all of the vertical strips to the last horizontal strip.
- Staple the first vertical strip on the left to all of the horizontal strips that intersect it. Staple the horizontal strip along the top to all of the vertical strips that intersect it.
- You now have an 11 x 13 in piece of woven plastic with all four edges stapled and secured.
- You will follow these same directions exactly for the back of the bag (and generally for the rest of the bag).
Step 3: Weave the Rest of Your Bag (it's Easy!)
- Now that you have the hang of weaving, it's time to apply your skills to the rest of the bag.
- You're going to repeat the steps covered in Step 2 for all five sides, only with different dimensions depending on the side. I drew a diagram to wrap my head around this, so feel free to reference it.
- Just thread, weave, staple, repeat. When you're done, staple all four sides to secure the side and prevent the weave from falling out.
Front/back of bag: 13 x 11 strips (13 x 11 inch dimension) x 2
Sides of bag: 13 x 6 strips (13 x 6 inch dimension) x 2
Bottom of bag: 11 x 6 strips (11 x 6 inch dimension) x 1
Step 4: Creating Your Net & Sewing the Bag Together
- Now we're going to create a net out of all of the five sides (note: by now, you have two 11 x 13 inch pieces, two 13 x 6 inch pieces, and one 11 x 6 inch piece)
- Reference the video attached to learn where to sew in order to create the net. (VIDEO)
- You can also use the diagram pictured to sew your net together.
- When you're done with your net, it should look similar to the one pictured. Trim off the extra inch (or so) when you're done sewing the net.
- The diagram entitled 'Finished Net' also depicts which sides to sew together in order to get the bag shape (as you saw in the video). Sew your net together so that it turns into a bag.
- note that when you sew your net together, you may want the seam to be on the inside and invisible (unlike what the video shows), so to do so flip the bag inside out and sew along edges.
Step 5: The Finishing Touches
- Hooray! You're almost done. For the handles, I used two 1.5 x 5 inch strips cut off the bottom of the bag.
- Align and center the handles on the front and back of the bag the way you please and sew a roman numeral X formation to add strength.
- Repeat 4x -- once on each side of each handle.
- At this point, feel free to add a coat of ModPodge onto your bag to add strength (especially if you used a weaker plastic).
Step 6: The Finished Product!
You finished this project! Congratulations :)
- This is what my finished product looks like. It holds up to 25 lbs. comfortably!
I hope you enjoyed this tutorial!