Crochet Fun Beach Bags from Recycled Plastic Bags
Crocheted Beach bags and Totes Made from Recycled Plastic Bags
Making Something Out of Nothing Much
Crocheting something useful and attractive from recycled materials is a great way to "go green" and satisfy your thrifty nature. These tote bags are all made from plastic bags -- the kind you get from the grocery store or drug store or numerous other retailers. Even if you use reusable grocery bags (and you should!), this kind of plastic bag is easily collected from friends. Don't tell, but I've even been known to raid the recycle containers at the grocery store to pick out a few of the colors I like. My one rule is, never buy a plastic bag!
I have pictured several different totes that were made from recycled bags.
The Crochet Beach Bag:
The largest, and my favorite, is the white bag in back with blue stripes. It's done in double crochet making the weave rather loose, but it's just perfect to take to the beach. You can stuff it with towels, books, sunblock to your heart's content, The sand will fall right out, and if it gets wet, it won't hurt a thing. This was made with white plastic grocery bags with contrasting stripes made from some of the older blue WalMart bags that I still had around the house.
Crochet Medium Sized Tote Bag (tan):
This tote bag is the right size to use as a purse, but I use it as a tote when I want to carry an extra pair of shoes with me. I liked using the tan grocery bags for this as I think it looks more like straw. This was done in a single crochet. It took longer to do, but the weave is tighter and small items are less likely to work their way through it.
Crochet Medium Sized White and Black Beach Bag:
This bag was my very first project and has lots of mistakes. I don't care because I love the way it came out and it's perfect for carrying my current crochet project. Again, it's done in double crochet. The white plastic bags are easy to find. The contrasting black trim was made from strips of black trash bags.
Crochet Water Bottle Holders from Recycled Plastic Bags:
These were done in brown or white with contrasting colors. They are a great 1st project because they only take 5 or 6 bags and are quick and easy in double crochet. I like them with a shoulder length strap that's easy to sling over my shoulder when walking. An added benefit is that the crochet bag keeps watercooler longer. These little bags are also neat for toting small objects. Take them along beach combing for collecting small shells and sea glass.
Continuous Strip Method of Cutting Bags
By cutting the bags in the continuous strip method, you will have one long strip of plastic "yarn" to crochet. This method is very similar to the method I use to cut T-shirts for the T-shirt Rug project.
How to cut Continuous Strips from Plastic Bags- Prepare the Bag
Prepare the bag
- Smooth out bag
- Fan fold bag several times and smooth out.
- Cut off the handles at the top and the seam at the bottom.
The Next Steps for Cutting Plastic Bags - Fold the Bag
Fold the bag
- Open up the folds and smooth out the bag which is now a tube.
- Fold the bag so that the top half is within a one and a half inches of the bottom half.
- Fold up from the bottom, but leave the top one and a half inches sticking out.
Continuous Strip Method of Cutting Plastic Bags - Cutting
Cut the bag
- Cut the bag as if you were cutting a fringe through the folds and to within a half inch of the top .
- Unfold the folds and you will have a fringe that is still connected to the top.
- Open the tube slightly at the top and slide your hand into it separating the front and back portions of the bag and letting the strips hang free.
Continuous Strip Method of Cutting Plastic Bags - Making the Continuous Strip
Make a continuous strip
- Slide hand through the tube to separate the front of the tube from the back.
- Begin cutting from the outside right edge to the first cut strip.
- Continue cutting from the outside edge to the next cut until done. The last cut will go through to the left outside edge.
- If cutting is done properly, you will have one long continuous strip of plastic "yarn."
- Wind into a ball.
- Ends can be knotted to the next section of yarn as the plastic knots compress and will not be obvious when the project is finished. Loose ends can be worked in when crocheting is completed.
Basic Instructions for Crochet Plastic Beach Bags
The method described does not require gauge. Bags are different thickness and will work up into different sizes by the way you cut them or the tension of you crochet stitch. A good tip: Measure in inches the length you wish to achieve, then measure the width. Subtract the width from the length. The measurement is your starting chain length. For instance, if you wish to have a 30" long and 20" wide oval, your starting chain will be 10". All measurements are approximate due to differences in bag thickness, stiffness, etc.
ch = chain
sc = single crochet
dc = double crochet
sl st = slip stitch
rnd = round
inc = increase
Beach Bag Made from Plastic "Plarn" - Plastic Bag Yarn!
Instructions for Crocheted Beach Bag
Prepare bags by cutting into 1 1/4 inch to 1 1/2 inch strips using the continuous strip method above. Use size H hook. Change colors as you wish. Because I only had a few of the dark blue bags, I used white for the main color and saved the blue for trim and a few accent stripes. I did alternate double crochet rows with some single crochet rows.
Rnd 1: Chain 10 (or desired length). 3 sc in 2nd ch from hook, sc in each ch down the side, 3 sc in end ch and sc up the other side. I skip the join at the end of each round and keep working in a spiral, but it might be helpful to mark the end of the round with a piece of contrasting yarn or plastic. (Alternate to spiral: join with a slip stitch at the end of each round. Chain 1, work as below.)
Rnd 2: 2 sc in each of the 3 end sc. Sc in each sc down the side. 2 sc in each of 3 end sc, sc in each sc up the other side.
Rnd 3: sc around increasing approximately 3 evenly spaced sc at each "end". When you come to the place where you have 2 sc in each stitch, do 2 sc, 1 sc, 2 sc, 1 sc, 2 sc, 1 sc.
Rnd 4-6: Repeat rnd 3 until desired size for bottom of the bag. Work as many or few increases needed to keep work flat. Usually 3 inc on each end will be sufficient.
Rnd 7: working in back loop only, sc in each sc around. Do not increase at the ends.
Rnd 8: dc in each chain around. You may alternate rows of single crochet to give a more closed look and switch colors if you wish.
Rnd 8 to end: Repeat rounds as in round 8 until desired height is reached.
Top round: Finish off by sc around the top edge. Weave in loose ends.
Handles: Join at one end of the oval shape on the last dc round to make approximately 5 dc evenly spaced. Work back and forth until half the total length of the handle is finished. Finish off. Repeat at other end. Stitch center of the handle together. Work one round of slip stitch or single crochet around each side of handle to finish. Weave in any loose ends.
Do enjoy your crocheted projects. You will truly be making something from nothing, and, as you finish one project, I'm sure you'll think of other useful items you can make using those plastic bags. Some of the things I've made are clothes pin holders, small door mats for our motorhome or the back door and water bottle holders for hiking. Just remember to recycle the scraps that you cut off your bags and to recycle your projects when you no longer want them!
I'd love to hear your comments on this project! Happy crocheting!
© 2011 Stephanie Henkel