Stitching Times serves up stories, examples and tutorials about needlework related crafts, especially quilting and crochet. Almost all of the projects shown have been designed by Kay Stephenson

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Grocery Bag Yarn: a new take on recycling

Not too long ago I was hop scotching around the internet and stumbled on the idea of recycling plastic grocery bags by turning them into yarn for crochet projects. Since I had a humongous bag of bags sitting in my basement ready for return to the place from whence they came, I decided to try a little experiment. I cut up a few bags, made the yarn and started crocheting a little square.
Neat! It’s easy, quick, and potentially useful. I decided to try some more. Before I knew it, I had created this bag which is currently stuffed full of all the fabric needed to make a queen-sized quilt.
This is a very simple pattern and probably a good project for a novice since it only uses single crochet stitch and basic increase, decrease and joining techniques. Here is the pattern if you would like to make one.
Dimensions: 10 x 10 x 6
Plastic Grocery bags – roughly 50 bags made into yarn. You can find instructions for making the yarn in several locations on the internet. Try this one. And while you are there, if you aren’t familiar with Helle Jorgensen’s art, get ready to be inspired. Here is a link to the homepage for gooseflesh. I made this bag entirely of Publix grocery bags in one color. However, you could easily crochet with different colored bags to create interesting designs.
Crochet hook – I used a Wright’s Boye 6-inch aluminum hook size K / 10½ 6.5mm. I found that the aluminum hook slid better on the plastic bag yarn, which turns out to be rather sticky compared to traditional fiber yarns.
Sewing Needle – I used a yarn darner, but a tapestry needle would also work as long as it has an eye that is large enough to accommodate the yarn.
Gauge: 3 sc = 1 inch
Front and Back
Row 1: ch 31, sc in second ch from hook and in each ch across – 30 sc. 1 turning chain.
Row 2: *sc in first and each sc across row for a total of 30 sc. Turn.*
Row 3 – 30: rep * * and fasten off.
Sides, base, and strap
Row 1: ch 16, sc in second ch from hook and in each ch across – 15 sc. 1 turning chain.
Row 2: *sc in first and each sc across row for a total of 15 sc. Turn.*
Row 3 – 91: rep * *.
Row 92: sc 3, skip the next sc, sc 7, skip the next sc, sc 3. 1 turning chain.
Row 93: sc 3, skip the next sc, sc 5, skip the next sc, sc 3. 1 turning chain.
Row 94: sc 3, skip the next sc, sc 3, skip the next sc, sc 3. 1 turning chain.
Row 95: sc 3, skip the next sc, sc 1, skip the next sc, sc 3. 1 turning chain.
Row 96: *sc 7. 1 turning chain. *
Row 97-145: rep* *.
Row 146: sc 2, inc 1 by sc twice in next sc, sc 1, inc 1 by sc twice in next, sc 2. 1 turning chain.
Row 147: sc 2, inc 1, sc 3, inc 1, sc 2. 1 turning chain.
Row 148: sc 2, inc 1, sc 5, inc 1, sc 2. 1 turning chain.
Row 149: sc 2, inc 1, sc 7, inc 1, sc 2. 1 turning chain.
Row 150: sc 15 across. Fasten off.
Match up the beginning row of the side/base/strap piece with the left side of the front piece. Pin the two pieces around the sides and base of the front using large safety pins and easing to fit. End with row 91 of the side/base/strap at the upper right side of the front. Join with an invisible seam by placing edge to edge and whip stitching together. Repeat with the back. Now join the strap row 160 to strap row 1 using the same method, which forms the handle of the bag.
Using a smaller crochet hook, pull any loose pieces of yarn to inside of bag, or weave them into the fabric to hide.
Blocking is not necessary or in fact possible given the tendency of the yarn to melt. If you are looking for a source of free crochet instructions and patterns, here is a great one called Crochet Pattern Central. Developed by Rachel Geller and her sister and maintained by Rachel in her spare time, it’s a great online resource with lots of patterns, instructions and “how to” articles.


  1. Great bag. Love the wide shoulder strap. Thanks for the mention.

  2. I hope you don't mind...I placed a link to your site on my site... ... I made a simple hanging planter but crocheted the hanger. Your site got me started...I WILL be trying the tote soon...

  3. How sturdy are these once made? I am looking to make something to put grocery in since the reusable ones they sell at store tend to not last.

  4. The bag is very sturdy. I've been using mine for years.

  5. I've completed the bag to Row 148. What's next before Row 159? Help!

  6. Oops! You found a typographical error in that pattern. It should be numbered 148, 149, 150 rather than 148, 159, 160. This has been corrected. Thanks for catching the mistake and I'm sorry for the inconvenience!