Reusing Plastic Bags to Make Ugly Throw Pillows
I absolutely love reusing materials to create new things. It’s so satisfying to give discarded items a new life and purpose. Recently, I’ve been collecting all my old plastic grocery bags with plans to repurpose them into some unique throw pillows.
Why Reuse Plastic Bags?
Plastic bags are incredibly harmful to the environment. Billions of single-use plastic bags are used globally each year. Most of these bags end up in landfills, oceans, and waterways where they can take hundreds of years to break down.
By reusing plastic bags to create throw pillows, I’m keeping them out of the environment. Plastic bags are given a new life as pillows that can be enjoyed for years to come. Some key benefits of reusing plastic bags include:
- Diverting plastic waste from landfills and oceans
- Reducing your environmental footprint
- Saving money by repurposing free materials
Overall, reusing materials like plastic bags is an excellent way to be creative and eco-friendly at the same time!
Collecting and Preparing the Bags
Before I could start crafting, I first needed to collect enough plastic bags. I saved all the plastic grocery bags from my weekly shopping trips. I also asked neighbors, family, and friends to contribute their bags.
Here are some tips for collecting and preparing plastic bags:
- Make sure the bags are clean and dry
- Remove any receipts or crumbs from inside the bags
- Only collect polyethylene plastic bags – no shredded plastic fillers
- Cut off the handles and bottom seams of the bags
- Use bags that are all the same color for a uniform look
- Iron the bags flat to smooth out any wrinkles or creases
I ended up collecting over 200 plastic bags in a variety of colors. I decided to keep the bags separated by color to create bold stripes and patterns for the pillow covers.
Crafting the Reusable Fabric
The most important step is transforming the plastic bags into a reusable fabric material that can be sewn. Here’s how I did it:
Step 1: Cut T-Shirt Strips
I used old t-shirts cut into 1-inch wide bias-cut strips as filler and stitching material. The stretchy t-shirt strips allow the plastic to be gathered without ripping.
Step 2: Attach Bags in Rows
I arranged the plastic bags in long rows of the same color, overlapping the edges slightly. I secured each row using a straight stitch along the top edge.
Step 3: Zigzag Columns Together
Next, I zigzagged the rows together to form columns about 18 inches wide. The zigzag stitch allows the plastic to stretch without tearing.
Step 4: Add T-Shirt Strips
I placed t-shirt strips perpendicular to the plastic rows. Then I did a zigzag stitch over the strips to attach them. This covers the seams between bags and adds durability.
After repeating these steps, I had sturdy fabric yards made from recycled plastic ready to be transformed into pillows!
Sewing the Throw Pillow Covers
With my recycled plastic fabric prepared, I was ready to sew some fun throw pillows! I sketched some different stripe patterns and templates in my sketchbook.
To sew the pillow covers:
- I cut rectangles of plastic fabric according to my sketches
- I overlapped the edges about 1/2 inch and sewed the perimeter using a zigzag stitch
- I left one edge open to insert the pillow form
- For a cleaner edge, I folded and sewed the open edge under 1/2 inch
I tried experimenting with different stripe widths and alternating colors. I even created a few patterns like plaid and polka dots.
The plastic fabric sewed up beautifully! The end result was durable and washable throw pillows ready to decorate my home.
Tips for Successful Plastic Bag Pillows
Here are some helpful tips if you want to try reusing plastic bags for pillows:
- Use only polyethylene retail shopping bags, not shredded plastic fillers
- Opt for solid colored bags rather than printed logos for a uniform look
- Match the pillow size to the amount of plastic fabric you can make
- Zigzag stitching is key for allowing stretch without tears
- Insert pillow forms before sewing the final seam closed
- Poly-fil stuffing can be used instead of pillow forms
With some creativity and patience, those ugly plastic bags can be given a colorful new life! The finished pillows added a perfect pop of color to my living room.
Continuing My Plastic Bag Journey
I loved being able to reuse old plastic bags for crafting, and I want to keep the sustainability going. Here are some next steps I’m taking:
- Finding new ways to incorporate plastic bags into DIY projects
- Sharing my pillows and process with family and friends
- Redoubling my efforts to decrease overall plastic usage
- Looking for plastic-free alternatives to single use bags
- Supporting plastic bag bans and taxes
Upcycling consumer waste into handmade crafts is so gratifying. I encourage everyone to get creative with their plastic bags! With some imagination, you can give just about any discarded item new life. What will you reuse today?