How to Make a Rug from Used Plastic Bags

We’re tree huggers at heart! It pleases us mightily when someone purchases our coir doormats—all of which have been made from 100% natural coir and are, hence, tree huggers like us! Let’s face it people, we have one earth and it’s the only real home we will be passing on to our kids. Let’s make it a safe and pretty place for their sakes. Speaking of pretty, do you feel concerned at the sight of all those ugly used plastic bags lying about the place and filling landfills? Well, plastic bags take anything between 20 to 1000 years to decompose…so they aren’t going anywhere soon! You could do the right things and reduce your use of plastic products and you can recycle and re-use the ones you have for longer. What you could also do is convert those old plastic bags into works of art and utilitarian objects. And since we are passionately into doormats, we are giving you a DIY tutorial on how you can use plastic bags to create mats. The mats are an eco-friendly way to make use of plastic bags and their utilitarian functions make them handy around the house. If creativity is your thing, you can also mix and match to create your own Picasso…like this one!

Rug by Maria Westerberg

This DIY tutorial has been put up on by Walkerbarb. If you like what you see or have any questions or have made it and would like to share that with her, click here below, amble over to the comments section and leave your comments and queries there.

How to Make a Rug from Plastic Grocery Bags

By Walker Barb

Step 1: Getting the tools and supplies

You will need the following tools and supplies:
Plastic Bags (150+)
Wax Paper
Straight Pins

Step 2: Gathering Bags

Picture of Gathering Bags


This should be the easiest step. You simply save your plastic bags after you go shopping. If you want a multi-colored rug, you must collect bags of different colors. The easiest way to do this is to shop at different places. Sometimes a store will change the color of their bags, but this is rare.If you use reusable shopping bags, gathering bags might be quite difficult. If you are really itching to do this project, you could ask your friends and neighbors for bags or you could “borrow” some from the recycling bin at your local grocery store, though I don’t condone stealing.


The rug pictured in this isntructable is 33 inches long by 30 inches wide, and contains about 151 bags. Obviously, for a larger rug you need more bags, and for a smaller rug you need fewer bags.

Step 3: Sort Bags by Colors

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Note : If you don’t want your rug to follow a pattern, you can skip sorting.To make creating the colored rings in the rug easier, I took my bags of bags and sorted the various bags into separate colors.


While the blue or yellow bags can be mostly sorted together, the white bags tend to have accent colors that can come out in the finished rug. So I have the “White with Pink accents” separate from the “White with Black accents and etc. See the image below for further explanation.

Step 4: Choosing a Pattern



If you’ve decided to make a rug with a pattern, having the bags sorted is a must. You have to look how many bags of each color you have. As the rug grows larger you will need more bags to go around.In the rug pictured throughout this instructable, (besides the initial white center, and yellow ring) my pattern is Brown-Blue-White. In my case, I only had a few yellow bags, so I used them as a center accent, but I had quite a bit of every other color.


Each rug should be different, therefore, use your imagination and your knowledge of your supplies to design a pattern.

The number of bags required for each ring varies with its size, and how tightly you braid. For example, the inner brown ring has 9 bags, the middle brown ring has 29 bags, and the outer brown ring has 33 bags.

Step 5: Split and Fold Bags

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To make usable strips, you must cut and fold each bag.The bags are cut along both side seams through the handles. This is the easiest way to get the bag to lay flat, and it also requires the least amount of cuts.


Once the bags are cut, you lay the bag open with the original outside (Pretty side) of the bag down. You then fold the long cut edges inward until the whole strip is about 2 inches wide. The bags will try to unroll, but laying them on the back of chair seem to help keep them in the right shape.

If you have extra-large bags or bags that are a thicker material, you can divide those bags lengthwise (parallel to the original side seam cuts) to make extra strips.

Step 6: Begin Braiding

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If you do not know how to braid, the following Instructable seems to be rather educational, How To Braid.I first started by tying the first three strips together. I then placed a rather heavy dictionary I have onto the knot, and then started braiding. To make my rug, I braided the initial center white spot. The center is only three strips (bags) so it didn’t take very long.


Be sure to leave a tail for each strip. This is where you will tie on the next bag. It is actually better if the tails are different lengths because it will force the continuing knots to be in different places. (more on this later)

As with many projects that become Intructables later on, I missed getting pictures of the very beginning, but the pictures below should explain it okay.

Step 7: Pinning the Braid

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To begin forming the braided bags into a rug, you have to lay the braid in a spiral pattern. As you lay the braid down, use straight pins to temporarily hold the spiral together.

Step 8: Fuse the Backing

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It may be better for you to practice this step first. I first learned this fusing technique from an instructable similar to this one, Plastic Bag Fabric.Once you’ve pinned the bags into the proper spiral, you’re ready to fuse the backing on. The backing is simply another plastic bag split open. You should have a large enough sheet so that there is overlap all around.


First, put the spiral pin-side down on an iron safe surface. Then lay your sheets of plastic bag(s) over the back of the spiral. Note I put the sheets ink side down so that the ink didn’t have a chance to transfer to any other surface. Then lay the wax paper on top of the plastic sheet. The plastic bags will melt to the iron! Be sure to only iron on the wax paperThen iron only on the wax paper for a short time. (The time will vary depending on the thickness of each bag. i.e. thinner bags will melt faster) My times varied from a few seconds to a minute or so.

After you pull away the iron and the wax paper, give the rug a minute or so to cool and harden. If you try to move it around while the plastic is still molten, you may ruin the fusing.

Leave all of the overlap, when you continue the spiral the backing will already be partially in place.

Step 9: Continue Braiding, Pinning and Fusing

Picture of Continue Braiding, Pinning and Fusing


As you continue braiding, pinning, and fusing there are some things you should be aware of.When you reach the end of a bag, tie the next bag on with a square knot (otherwise known as a reef knot), The bags will cinch up pretty tight, so most knots will work.


It is much better if the tails of each bag come at different times. When you go to tie the next bag on, your knot will make a tiny bump along the braid. This bump is pretty much invisible, unless all three knots happen at the same time. If necessary, cut the bag strips so that the tails are different lengths. After the initial cutting, the knots should fall at different times.

Step 10: Finishing

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Once you reach then end of your rug, you simply tuck the last tails under the the rest of the rug and continue with the fusing process. Once you’ve fused the rest of the spiral, and the last tails, you can trim the excess backing off.

Step 11: Position in your Home

Picture of Position in your Home