How To Make a Plastic Bag Crocheted Shoulder Bag

While in India, I have been teaching plastic bag crochet to many different groups of people.

These workshops generated a lot of interest, but patterns have been in high demand.

I’m not great at patterns (generally just make stuff up as I go along), but I recently crocheted a shoulder bag from start to finish and tried to document all the steps.

Here’s the resulting “how-to” document:

Shoulder Bag – How To

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Plastic Bag Recycling Flyer

Here’s the first version of the flyer we created about plastic bag recycling.

It’s obviously for English speakers, but we’ll likely be rolling out versions in different languages soon.

Feel free to click on the link below, download this pdf version of the flyer, and use as you wish (it’s meant to be printed as a double-sided page folded in half).

BagsBeGone.com – Plastic Bag Flyer

 

Finger Crochet

When searching for ways to crochet that don’t require a crochet hook, I came across this video showing someone crocheting plastic bags with their fingers.

I tried it out and it worked just fine! Who knew crochet could be so easy?

Finger crochet stitches come out very loose and lumpy… so this technique won’t work well if you’re going for the tightly crocheted look.

But if you’ve got lots of plastic bags, are without a hook, and want to make a quick chunky crocheted creation (like a rug, a floor mat, or a large net style bag), finger crochet is the way to go!

Crochet Hook Construction Trial 1: Plastic Toothbrush

This is the first of a series of trials to construct a durable crochet hook from found materials.

For this trial I used plastic toothbrushes.

First I tried the boiling method, but it didn’t really work. I found this plastic toothbrush bracelet tutorial which involved boiling the toothbrush and bending it. I could see curving the plastic enough to make a bracelet, but it didn’t seem to be bendable enough to make a hook.

Next I tried heating it directly over a flame, like in this plastic casting tutorial. I obviously need to perfect this method (as my first plastic hook is kinda ugly), but for a first try it’s not too bad! And I when I crocheted with it, it worked just fine!

Also…I love the fact that I was able to construct a hook out of another plastic thing that would just otherwise end up in a landfill.

The plastic casting tutorial is lengthy and has many details that don’t apply to hook construction. Basically this is all you need to know to make a plastic toothbrush crochet hook:

“Turn the flame up fairly high and then wait until the first small signs of melting appear (these include: drooping, sinking in on itself, moving and dripping). When this happens turn the power down to about half. If the plastic darkens, bubbles or blackens, it’s starting to burn. If you see any of those things happening, reduce the heat immediately. Over cooked plastic tends to be very brittle. Try to melt it slowly over a long period of time (about 10 minuets for an object this size). This reduces the likelihood of air being trapped inside the casting. Completely liquifying the plastic is not the goal. It’ll burst into flames long before you achieve that. Instead, you need to heat it just enough to make it soggy, so that it can ooze into the correct shape.”

Plastic Bag Crochet Patterns

I was recently introduced to Ravelry.com, a community site and pattern database for knitters and crocheters. And while Ravelry is a free platform for sharing project and pattern information, the best part about it is the social features. Ravelry users have the ability to rate patterns, post comments and alteration suggestions, and share their own project ideas with others. As a friend explained to me, “It’s like having 100 friends try a pattern before you and you don’t have to make all the mistakes they made.” You can read Ravelry’s about page for more info.

Anyway, the main reason I’m posting about Ravelry here is because they have a pretty large selection of plastic bag crochet/knit patterns. Here is their compilation of free patterns using plastic bags. You have to create an account to view the link, but that is free as well.

Also…RecycleCindy is a frequent poster on Ravelry and has lots of plastic bag crochet patterns on her site, MyRecycledBags.com.

I’m also going to post a link to Ravelry and RecycleCindy on my Learn Page as well.