Learn Plastic Bag Crochet

Plastic Bag Crochet

Crocheting with plastic bags is relatively easy.

Eventually I’d like to make a “How To” video illustrating all the steps, but for now here are some notes and various resources to get you started.

Making “Plarn” From Plastic Bags

Here are some pictures showing how to prepare plastic bags for crocheting.

*My Kickstarter page has a more simplified, animated version of the instructions below (put to the music of Ratatat).


First, take a bag and flatten it out.

Fold it in half.

Fold it a few more times.

Cut off the handles and bottom of the bag (these pieces can be used for other projects).

Cut the bag into evenly sized chunks.

Tip: I prefer mine to be about 2 inches thick, but you can experiment with various thicknesses. The thinner the strips, the more delicate looking they will be. The thicker the strips, the more chunky looking they will be.

You’ll end up with about 10 pieces per bag.

Unfold the plastic bag pieces and loop them together one at a time (like linking rubber bands together).

Tip: Be sure to hold the knot each time you loop the next one on.

After cutting and looping together several plastic bags, you’ll end up with a plastic bag chain.

Now you have your own plastic bag yarn, or “plarn” (which you can crochet just like you would with regular yarn).

Tip: The size of the hook doesn’t really matter. You can experiment with various sized hooks until you find one that works for your particular project.

OK. So now you have amassed many large balls of plarn. Where to start? What to make? Well, the world is your oyster, but you can find ideas below (and sprinkled throughout this site).

Crocheting With Plastic Bags

If you need some inspiration on what to crochet with your plastic bags, check out these links below:

Here is a great Etsy tutorial that shows how to crochet a plastic bag tote bag from start to finish.

Here is a collection of pages dedicated to plastic bag crochet (a how to video and instructions for various projects).

Here is an instructional video I made at the MakerFaire for Craft Magazine

For plastic bag crochet patterns, check out these pages on Ravelry.com and MyRecycledBags.com.

And here’s a pattern I created for a plastic bag crochet shoulder bag.

Crochet Tutorials

Don’t know how to crochet? No worries. YouTube is an excellent resource!

Tip: Working with yarn might be easier until you get the hang of it. Then you can move on to crocheting with plastic bags and other materials.

Once you learn a few basic stitches, you’ll be able to create all kinds of amazing things.

Here are some crochet basics.

How To Make A Starting Chain

How To Single Crochet

How To Double Crochet

27 responses

  1. Pingback: Plastic Bag Crochet Patterns « BagsBeGone.com

  2. I have been crocheting plastic into bags for at least 20 years, but the colors that I have a lot of excess to are white, clear, and brown. I may be able to get other colors, if the store is changes their colored bags or I could buy them. I would like to know how you can crochet thicker plastic bags (ie Hefty or Glad trash bags). Please help me!

    • Hi Amy.

      If you want to crochet thicker bags, just cut them into thinner strips. They work just as well.
      But if you want to actually use recycled bags…you could do a call out on craigslist for colored plastic bags. I’ve found that when you start doing art with recycled materials, many people will very willingly offer up their leftover bags. If your local grocery store has a collection bin for recycling plastic bags, you can also sift through it to find colored ones. NY Times comes in pretty blue bags.


  3. I’ve been researching plarn projects and instructions for about a week, ever since I got a Christmas “wish list” from a homeless teen. Her list includes “knitting supplies”. I’m providing her with some yarn, needles, etc. but I thought about what happens when she runs out of yarn. She won’t have any money to buy more. So I’ve been searching for plarn patterns and I’m not finding many that are in PDF format so I can print them for her. I’ve been able to download one basic page on making plarn and two patterns for tote bags and that’s about it. I’m a serial entrepreneur so of course I see this as a business opportunity for her or at least the ability to make gifts at absolutely no cost. Any suggestions?

    • Well, I imagine that most any pattern that calls for a novelty-style or less heftty yarn would work. Why not look into some of those smaller “learn to knit” books that would have a good variety of basic patterns for her to choose from? Most fabric and craft stores have ones that wouldn’t take up too much room…

    • Hi Carolyn. I’m sooo sorry about the extremely late reply. Somehow I missed this comment until now when I was reorganizing my site. Are you still in contact with the teen? How is her knitting going? I am a crocheter rather than a knitter, so I don’t know much about knitting patterns. I do have this pdf document with simple picture instructions for making a plastic crocheted shoulder bag though. Maybe that would be useful to her?

      Click to access shoulder-bag-how-to.pdf

      Also, there is a site called Ravelry, which has lots of free patterns. Any regular knit or crochet pattern will work fine with plastic bag yarn – especially if it requires a larger needle/hook size.


  4. Hi! Your site was suggested by an editor from craftgossip.com. I live in India now and the problem of pollution here is indeed a serious one. Even the city I live in is considered to be the cleanest! But it’s far not so. So could I implement your idea in my city as well? Because even here many women could do something useful and beautiful at the same time. Thanks for sharing your nice project!

  5. I have moved on from one homeless teen to the entire organization of Nevada Partnership for Homeless Youth. I’ve offered to teach a class (as soon as I practice a little on my own projects) on crocheting with plarn. I’ll supply each of them with one hook and a pair of scissors (as my budget permits) and printouts of a pattern or two. Hoping for one good tote bag and maybe a sleeping mat.

  6. Good morning Cristen. I found your website because I was looking to purchase a water bottle holder that was made from recycled bags. I had purchased a few from a different vendor about a year ago. I have a few friends who are interested in them. I was wondering if I could purchase them from you. It doesn’t matter what the color is. I would need four of them. They are all school bus drivers and this bottle holder is the only type permitted by the bus company. I do not need the back pack style. Just a simple holder with a strap on it. Thanks so much and I look forward to hearing from you.

  7. I just found this wonderful site by accident today–but want to learn how to
    make these wonderful projects while I am laid up at home for a few months.

  8. Great application of plastic bags.

    Another recycle idea is to use ripped tights, I’m now collecting mine. The stitch is really tight and hard – perfect for bags or baskets.

  9. We are going to make plarn sleeping mats and can these be double crocheted or do they need to be single crocheted? Does it matter?

  10. Hi, that’s a brilliant idea! It saves buying yarn and how much better to use ALL of those plastic bags that would otherwise get thrown away. We all know the devastating effect that’s having on the world, so thankyou for this wonderful idea. Sharon R.

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