How to Upcycle Plastic Bags into Woven Placemats
Making woven placemats out of plastic bags is a fun and creative way to give new life to single-use plastics. With just a few simple steps and supplies, plastic bags can be upcycled into beautiful and functional placemats.
- Plastic bags – grocery, shopping, dry cleaning bags work well. Make sure they are clean and dry.
- Scissors – for cutting the plastic bags into strips.
- Ruler – for measuring even widths of the plastic strips.
- A loom – this can be as simple as a rectangular piece of cardboard. The size depends on the size of placemat you want to weave.
- Tape – masking tape or painter’s tape to secure the warp threads to the loom.
- Warp threads – cotton yarn, twine or rope. The length depends on the size of your loom.
Prepare the Loom
The loom provides the base to weave your placemat on.
- Cut a piece of cardboard to the dimensions you want your finished placemat. Most placemats are around 12″ x 18″.
- Starting on the short edge, secure the warp threads horizontally across the loom using tape. Leave a 1/2″ space between threads.
- Wrap the warp threads around the long edges and secure on the back with more tape.
- The warp threads should be tight and evenly spaced.
Cut the Plastic Bags
Now it’s time to cut the plastic bags into strips for the weaving.
- Cut off any bag handles, seams and bottom folds so you have a flat plastic sheet.
- Use the ruler and scissors to cut the plastic into 1-2″ wide strips. The width is up to you!
- Cut strips across the entire bag. Mix up the patterns and colors for visual interest.
- Coil the strips into balls to keep them tangle-free as you weave.
Weave the Placemat
The fun part – weaving it all together!
- Working across the loom, take a plastic strip and weave it over and under the warp threads.
- Tap the strip down after each warp thread to make it tight and even.
- Work all the way across, then weave a new strip back in the opposite direction.
- Vary the color order and patterns as you go.
- Make sure the strips lay flat and tight together to cover the warp threads.
- Weave 5-10 rows, depending on how thick you want the placemat.
- Trim any uneven or frayed strip edges as you weave.
Remove from Loom and Finish
Once your desired size and thickness is achieved, remove it from the loom.
- At one end, carefully cut the warp threads to release it.
- Trim any uneven plastic strip edges.
- If desired, use an iron on low heat to fuse the strips together on each side. This helps hold everything in place.
- Once cool, your plastic bag placemat is ready to use!
With a simple DIY loom and plastic bags, you can create easy woven placemats to dress up your table. Get creative with different plastics, patterns and sizes. It’s also fun to weave them together with kids and repurpose household items.