How can I make a bag using recycled things?

handbagWe’ve had an email from Janelle for our new reverse Recycle This section:

hi. i’d love to have a go at making a shopping bag out of recycled plastic but don’t know where to start. any ideas?

I’ve knitted carrier bags into a new bag before now – except I picked thicker than normal bags which were a PAIN. Aside from that though, it was pretty straight forward – I just garter-stitched a strip as wide and twice as long as I wanted the finished bag to be, then folded it in half and sewed up the sides. The (short) handles were made in the same way, just handle-sized dimensions instead. It looked more rugged than it felt though – but I think my knitting/sewing skills were to blame for that.

I love the bags woven from old packaging and am planning to give that a go once I get my million other projects out of the way – anyone got any hints or tips on how to get started? Or what types of packaging to use?

Away from plastic, I’ve made a few shopping bags from old/charity-shop pillow case – either standard tote ones (using the bag part of the pillowcase) or slightly bigger one I made with a little help from the cats the other week (it’s great and seems far stronger because of the wider strap).

Other materials: Ecoist, amongst other people, also makes bags from old movie posters; I’ve seen bags made from old bamboo blinds/placemats (the wood stained a fun colour and fabric used for the gusset); the tops of jeans make good rucksack-type bags (built-in pockets!); and I’m tempted to play with making a wallet or possibly clutch bag using drink cans – the cans cut into strips then woven into a flat sheet (easier than reweaving them into a can again…).

Any other suggestions?

(Photo of a non-recycled but colourful & shiny bag by paiviti)

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12 Responses to “How can I make a bag using recycled things?”

  1. Di says:

    I used an old pillowcase to make a tote bag! Info is on my blog today!

    • Gill says:

      Thanks Di for the tote bag idea. A friend of mine likes to do kitchen sink crafts for Guides & leaders and this is a brill idea for her.
      Can we use it please?

  2. Mrs. V says:

    Check the above website.

  3. Anna says:

    I do not know how to make a recycled bag but you can order them from ecoist ( Just recently I ordered a tote bag made from a old movie bilboard and love it!

  4. marigold says:

    i make shoulder bags and bumbags and duffle bags out of rubber inner tubes. i get them for free from tyre repair shops who are happy to give somthing away they would have to pay to dispose of.

    they are fairly tough to work with. i punch holes with a leather hole punch and bind the seams with long strips i cut. straps i reuse from old bags.

    you can stuff them really full too, as they have stretch.

  5. I make handbags from TV wire to recover charity shop bags

  6. bubblez says:

    i am at the moment making a bag out of old clothes they r not as easy as u think to work with i am rubbish at sewing but i hav already made a fashionable top
    i rush but just take ur time and plan it properly the sturdier the material the better they wont rip as quick hope this is useful 2 u

  7. Anna says:

    I am doing a project in Textiles, where you have to make a recycled bag, but I have no idea how to make one and how much fabric I will need.If anyone has any ideas of how to make the outline, please comment.
    Thank you :)

  8. Jo says:

    I make bags from recycled clothing. The thing to remember with using clothing is to cut it up (pref along seams)so you can lie the fabric flat and work from there!

    It’s great fun when you get the hang of it!

  9. petunia says:

    any suggestions for things we can make out of newspapers?

  10. addy says:

    i’m collecting pull tabs from soda cans right now. i’m going to unwind an old bag and use the rope like stuff to bind the pull tabs together. i’m not sure if this will work as i got the idea from site kind of like etsy. the person who made it was really vague about how she did it and the pic wasnt good so who knows if it’ll work. if it doesn’t a lot of charities collect them, so at least i have a backup plan!!!

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