How to Upcycle Plastic Bags into Woven Mats
Plastic bags are commonly used for shopping and storing items, but most end up in landfills. Upcycling them into woven mats gives these bags new life and reduces waste. Making woven mats from plastic bags is easy, rewarding, and eco-friendly.
To make a woven mat from plastic bags you will need:
- Plastic bags – Grocery bags, shopping bags, ziploc bags. The more variety of colors the better.
- Scissors – For cutting the bags into strips.
- Ruler or tape measure – For measuring strips.
- Ballpoint pen or chopstick – For weaving the strips through each other.
- Embroidery hoop, picture frame, or cardboard – For holding the mat taut while weaving.
Optional: Iron, fusible web, fabric glue
Prepare the Plastic Strips
The first step is preparing plastic strips to weave with.
- Cut off any handles and seams so you have a flat plastic sheet.
- Cut the plastic sheets into strips 1 to 2 inches wide. The length can vary.
- If the strips are curly, gently pull on them lengthwise or lay a pile under a heavy book overnight to flatten them out.
Having plastic strips in a variety of colors and widths will give you more options when designing your mat.
Set Up the Loom
You can weave your mat on any frame that will hold it taut. Here are some options:
- Embroidery hoop – Ideal for making small or medium sized mats up to 14 inches.
- Picture frame – Remove glass and backing. You can make mats up to the size of the frame.
- Cardboard – Cut two pieces the size you want the mat. Join them with duct tape on the edges to make a rigid frame.
Place a strip of plastic along the edge of the frame and secure with tape to create a straight starting line for weaving.
Now you’re ready to weave:
- Arrange your plastic strips by color before you begin weaving.
- Take a plastic strip and loop it over and under the warp strip in the opposite direction. Pull it gently tight.
- Take another strip and push it tightly up against the first, looping it the opposite way.
- Continue alternating the over/under pattern, keeping strips tight together.
- When the row is filled, gently push the rows together before starting the next row.
- Weave until the mat is the size you want.
Mixing up the color order as you weave adds visual interest.
Finish the Mat
There are a few options for finishing your plastic woven mat:
- Leave as-is for a casual look. The strips may loosen over time.
- Use fusible web on the back to adhere strips and keep them locked in place.
- Apply fabric glue on the back to stiffen and strengthen the mat.
- Sew or staple a cloth backing to hide any rough edges on the back.
And that’s it – you’ve upcycled plastic bags into a beautiful homemade woven mat! The possibilities are endless for designs, shapes, and sizes.
More Upcycling Ideas
If you enjoyed making plastic bag mats, try using this weaving technique to make other upcycled items:
- Coasters, trivets, pot holders
- Purses, totes, baskets
- Placemats, runners
- Wall hangings
- Pet beds or mats
You can upcycle almost any flexible plastic into woven creations. Get creative with plastic packaging, wrappers and more! The simple act of reusing and repurposing plastic waste gives it new life and keeps it out of landfills.