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How to Embellish a Straw Bag With Recycled Plastic Bags

Claudia has been writing about crafts online for many years. She is an avid crafter who has been creating for most of her life.

Straw Bag Embellished with Flowers Made From Recycled Plastic Bags Craft Project

Straw Bag Embellished with Flowers Made From Recycled Plastic Bags Craft Project

While perusing the aisles of a local thrift store a few months ago, I came across an old straw bag that had raffia flowers all over it. It was bright and colorful and was probably purchased during a tropical vacation someone took many years ago.

I looked at that cute retro bag and thought that I could do something like that, maybe not as intricately and finely done, but definitely something like it. I had been stashing away brightly colored plastic bags that were just screaming out for a craft project, and the idea for this tote bag leapt into my mind. So with plastic bags, a cheap straw tote bag and some basic supplies in hand, I went to work.

The result is this fun and colorful straw tote bag. It only took about two hours to make and that was with all of the pictures I took. If you have a straw bag just begging to be spruced up, try this craft. You get a darling bag and, by recycling, you do a little bit of good for the environment. Here's how to make your very own bag.

Save all of your brightly colored plastic bags for recycled craft projects.

Save all of your brightly colored plastic bags for recycled craft projects.

Supplies You'll Need

  • Plastic bags in various colors - I suggest using the ones that are thin and almost feel like tissue paper. The thicker bags are harder to sew with.
  • Straw bag
  • Scissors
  • A needle with a very large eye (I like to use a large upholstery needle)
Don't forget the scissors and a needle with a very large eye.

Don't forget the scissors and a needle with a very large eye.

Step 1: Cut Out Plastic Strips

  • When cutting strips of plastic, I like to cut the bag along the seam and flatten it out. Then I cut strips, approximately 1" wide on the diagonal. I get a longer piece to sew with this way.
  • The strips don't need to be perfectly straight or exactly 1". When sewn, they wrinkle up and no one can see the cutting line.
Cutting strips from plastic bags is easy.

Cutting strips from plastic bags is easy.

Step 2: Thread the Needle

  • To thread the needle, tie a knot at one end of the strip of plastic. Gently coax the other end through the eye of the needle. It's easier if you fold the strip in half, lengthwise. If it is still hard to thread the needle, try rolling the plastic in between your fingers to make it smaller. Once threaded, gently pull the plastic through.
  • Now you are ready to sew!
It takes a little patience to thread the needle with plastic.

It takes a little patience to thread the needle with plastic.

Step 3: Sew

Here's the fun part...sewing the design on! Decide what sort of flower or pattern you would like to add to the bag. You may want to sketch something out, or just freehand a design like I have shown here.

I decided to go with this simple fan pattern.

  1. Beginning from the inside of the bag, find the starting point of your design and bring the needle through a gap in the woven straw. Pull through until it's stopped by the knot. It may take a few moments to find a good opening. Try not to go through the straw because it could break or fray it.
  2. Decide where you want the pattern to go and insert the needle into the straw bag. Pull gently until tight.
  3. Continue sewing the pattern.
  4. When you are pleased with your design, finish the sewing by inserting the needle through the outside of the bag into the inside and tie off inside the bag.
Sewing a design onto a straw bag is easier than you think!

Sewing a design onto a straw bag is easier than you think!

Step 4: Finishing Off the Design

  • To secure the sewn design, it needs to be done on the inside of the bag. Take your needle and feed it through some of the stitches. Then repeat, but this time, insert the point of the needle into the loop you just made.
  • Pull tightly, but gently. This forms a secure knot.
  • Trim off any excess.
Make sure to securely tie off the design in the inside of the straw bag so that the sewing doesn't unravel.

Make sure to securely tie off the design in the inside of the straw bag so that the sewing doesn't unravel.

Before and after embellishing a straw bag with recycled plastic bags!  A little bit of a retro look to jazz up a plain straw tote.

Before and after embellishing a straw bag with recycled plastic bags! A little bit of a retro look to jazz up a plain straw tote.

Embellished Straw Bag Tutorial Video

I've made a video tutorial showing how to sew the design onto the bag. It gives more detail on each step.

That's all there is to it! I love the way the straw bag is transformed with this method. The design gives it a little bit of a fun retro look and really brightens the bag up.

It's perfect for your next trip to the store, beach, pool or just about anywhere else.

Straw Bag Embellished with Flowers Made From Recycled Plastic Bags - A cute retro look for a new bag!

Straw Bag Embellished with Flowers Made From Recycled Plastic Bags - A cute retro look for a new bag!

© 2015 Claudia Mitchell

Comments

Donna from East Yorkshire, UK on January 30, 2018:

Great idea, I am sharing with my craft loving sister in law. I have seen mats made from the bags too.. wonder how they would translate to bags? Fun and useful article.

pathumma on October 31, 2017:

lovelly one

Claudia Mitchell (author) on September 24, 2016:

Oh I love the idea of doing this on Easter bonnets!!!! That will be so much fun. Thanks for reading and commenting.

Michelle How on August 07, 2016:

So happy to have stumbked upon this. I know what I will be doing on my childrens easter bonnets next spring now. Thank you!

Claudia Mitchell (author) on September 10, 2015:

Hi teaches - This one is easy to make, that's one reason I like it. The older I get, the more I like easy craft projects! Thanks for checking it out.

Claudia Mitchell (author) on September 10, 2015:

Thanks Flourishanyway! - Those plastic bags drive me crazy, I get so many of them. At least this uses up some of them.

Claudia Mitchell (author) on September 05, 2015:

Hi georgialgal1984 - I'm glad you enjoyed this project and that you don't think it looks like plastic bags! I was hoping people would think that. Thanks for commenting and enjoy the rest of your weekend.

Claudia Mitchell (author) on September 03, 2015:

Wow - thanks aviannovice. I've often thought about selling online, but just don't have the time or patience to make enough inventory! Have a great day and thanks for the comments.

Dianna Mendez on September 01, 2015:

What a pretty bag! I would not have thought to use plastic in this way. You make it seem to easy to make.

FlourishAnyway from USA on August 28, 2015:

I like your use of recycled bags here -- so creative!

Penny Pincher from United States on August 25, 2015:

What a lovely craft! So pretty and in no way looks like it came from plastic bags! Very creative!! Hope you have a great day~ :)

Deb Hirt from Stillwater, OK on August 22, 2015:

You can really do incredible thing with nothing. Bet you'd do quite well on Etsy. I have a friend that knits and sells her wares there.

Claudia Mitchell (author) on August 21, 2015:

Hi Bill - Thanks so much. I actually took this little bag on a road trip last weekend. It came in handy. I've been a little quiet on the hub front, but now that my daughter is going back to school I may have more time to get creative again. Enjoy your weekend!

Claudia Mitchell (author) on August 21, 2015:

Thank you KoffeeKlatch Gals - I really appreciate it. Hope you make one too if you like to crafts. Have a great weekend.

Bill De Giulio from Massachusetts on August 21, 2015:

Hi Glimmer. How creative. A great idea for a craft project. Easy to follow instructions. Another winner :)

Susan Hazelton from Sunny Florida on August 16, 2015:

I love this idea. Your tutorial is terrific. An absolutely awesome hub.

Claudia Mitchell (author) on August 16, 2015:

Hi travmaj - So glad you enjoyed this article and I thank you for your nice comments.

Claudia Mitchell (author) on August 16, 2015:

Hi AliciaC - Thanks for stopping by. I like doing fun projects like this that don't take too much time and add a little whimsey to something.

travmaj from australia on August 15, 2015:

This is totally creative - what a great idea and how well you have demonstrated it - thank you.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on August 15, 2015:

The finished project looks very pretty, Glimmer. Decorating a straw bag is certainly a good way to reuse plastic bags.

Claudia Mitchell (author) on August 15, 2015:

Thank you PAINTDRIPS, I'm glad you enjoyed it. It's a fun project.

Claudia Mitchell (author) on August 15, 2015:

Hi sallybea - I have always been fascinated by those pretty raffia flower straw bags. Some of the old ones are quite valuable. This is a cheap way to get a look that is a little bit like that. Thanks for stopping by!

Denise McGill from Fresno CA on August 14, 2015:

Lovely idea and easy to follow tutorial. Nicely done.

Sally Gulbrandsen from Norfolk on August 14, 2015:

Glimmer Twin Fan

That's a great idea. I remember bags similar to the one you modeled this Bag on. They were usually made with raffia as you say, but this is certainly a novel way of creating something different. Well done!

Claudia Mitchell (author) on August 14, 2015:

Thanks purl3agony - Some of those vintage straw bags are incredible. They have layered flowers and all sorts of fun designs. This one barely scratches the surface, but it's a fun project. Glad you liked it too. Thanks for all of the support!!! Have a great weekend!

Claudia Mitchell (author) on August 14, 2015:

Hi Bill - I think the best advertisements for new things or projects is other people. I believe you wrote an article about finding inspiration around you. This one just jumped out at me! Have a great weekend too. Are you guys getting any rain yet?

Donna Herron from USA on August 14, 2015:

Wow! Love this idea and tutorial. I've always admired vintage straw bags that had flower details, but I never thought to just add my own. And of course, I love the thought of reusing plastic bags to add these colorful details. Your hub makes this all look so easy. Thanks for sharing. I always enjoy reading your hubs. Voted up, awesome, and pinned!

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on August 14, 2015:

That's how I decide upon projects in the yard. I'll drive by a home and see something, or I'll be in a store like Home Depot, and I'll tell Bev "I can make that." And I do, always using recycled materials.

That's a long-winded way of saying I understand.

Have a great weekend!