How to Repurpose Plastic Bags into Woven Placemats
Reusing plastic bags is an excellent way to reduce waste and get creative with crafting. With a simple weaving technique, you can transform plastic grocery bags into beautiful and functional placemats. These plastic woven placemats make a statement at any table while diverting a product destined for the landfill. Making your own placemats out of repurposed materials is also a fun DIY project. In this article, I’ll provide step-by-step instructions on how to weave plastic bags into stunning placemats.
What You’ll Need
To make woven plastic placemats, you’ll need:
- Plastic grocery bags: The standard 12 x 7 inch sized grocery bags work best. You’ll need around 20-30 bags for each placemat depending on the size you want to make. Bags in different colors create an eye-catching design.
- Scissors: Sharp scissors make cutting strips from the bags easy.
- A ruler or straight edge: This helps cut straight strips of even width.
- Tape: Masking tape or clear packing tape to tape down the bags while weaving.
- A cardboard loom: A piece of sturdy cardboard acts as the base to weave on. Around 15 x 15 inches is a good size for a placemat.
- Fabric strip: A strip of fabric or cloth to sew the placemat edges once taken off the cardboard loom.
Prepping the Materials
Before you begin weaving, you need to prep the plastic bags and cardboard loom.
Cutting the Bags into Strips
- Cut or tear off the handles and bottom seam of the bags so you have a flat plastic sheet.
- Using a ruler and scissors, cut the plastic sheets into strips around 2-3 inches wide. The length can vary.
- Try to cut as straight as possible to get evenly sized strips. Consistent width makes the weaving easier.
- Cut strips from 20-30 bags depending on the size of the placemat you want to make. More strips means a thicker placemat.
Preparing the Cardboard Loom
Take a sturdy piece of cardboard approximately 15 x 15 inches. Along the edges, use tape to attach the end of a plastic strip, leaving the rest of the strip facing inward to be woven into. Do this along each side, having about 6 strip “warp threads” attached.
Weaving the Placemat
Now it’s time to weave! Follow these steps:
- Select a plastic strip “weft thread” and begin weaving it over and under the warp threads, going from one side of the cardboard to the other.
- Push the weft thread gently into place, making sure it isn’t too loose.
- Continue weaving new weft threads back and forth across the loom, maintaining even tension.
- Every few rows, use tape to secure the rows down to keep them from shifting. This helps stabilize the weaving.
- Aim for a tight weave as you go to prevent gaps from forming.
- Once the piece is roughly the size/thickness you want, trim any excess warp threads so the edges are even.
Finishing the Placemat
To complete the placemat:
- Remove it carefully from the cardboard loom.
- Cut a fabric strip or piece of cloth a few inches larger than the edges of the placemat. This will be used to bind the edges.
- Place the fabric strip face down on the “wrong” side of the placemat. Fold over the edges and pin into place.
- Sew around all 4 sides using a straight stitch 1/4 inch from the edge to secure the binding in place.
- Trim any excess binding fabric. Turn right side out so the clean bound edge shows.
And that’s it! You now have a beautiful handmade woven placemat created from recycled plastic bags. Get creative with different color combinations and sizes. These make wonderful gifts, too. Enjoy putting your plastic bag placemats to use!