Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Plastic Bag Doormat (Work in Progress)

Sometimes, projects take longer than I expect.

For example, this is a doormat I've been working on made out of plastic bags. The first night I worked on it, I got is about 1/3 of the way finished. The next time I touched it I hardly made a difference. It's still sitting on the floor of my bedroom, staring at me. Mocking me with it's little plastic bag voice "Feeling lazy Sheila? We'll wait." Joke is on you, mean doormat, I'm going to post about you anyway.

This project is not at all difficult, but it is time consuming. When it's finished, we will have an easy to clean, waterproof doormat on our front porch. And it was freeeeeeeee.

You will need

-Plastic bags, I used around 60. 
-Thick needle and thread

*60 sounds like a lot of bags but we had that lying around the apartment easily.  It's especially easy if you don't care if your bags are all the same color. Clearly, I don't. It's also helpful to have a roommate who supports your recycling hoarding habits. 

Start by cutting your bags into strips. For this project,  it's best to cut a few bags at a time and go back in sections. It's easy for the plastic to become tangled or unruly if you try to do too much at once. To cut the bag, flatten the sides in and remove the thin strip with the bottom seam and the handles. Cut the rest of the bag down the center long-wise to create 2 long circled strips. 

 Loop the circles together and tighten. 

The best compromise as far as tangle-free and not stopping every 5 minutes to cut more bags was to cut 3 bags and loop them all together at a time, for a "strand" that was 6 loops long. You will need 3 of these strands at a time; 9 bags for each section of braid. Start the braid by tying the ends together with a rubberband. 

It's easiest to braid if you have something to pull against, so I used the rubberband to attach the ends to the top of a chair. A door knob would work well too. An even, medium tension braid looked the best.

When you reach the ends of the strands, loop together a few more bags and add them to the end. I used about 20 bags in each strand for a total of 60 bags. I also moved the knot on my chair as I added bags so I didn't have to keep walking backwards around the apartment. Coiling the braided bags as you go makes it easier to see how much more you will need.

Once you've finished the braiding, you're ready for the tedious part: sewing. The bag cutting and braiding goes pretty quickly. It took maybe 2 hours (or the length of "You've Got Mail") from cutting the first bag to finishing the braid. The sewing is what is taking me forever. If you don't want to put it outside, you can probably get away with hot gluing it. But no cutting corners here!

I wanted my braid to lie flat so it would be a little wider and more flexible. I removed the rubber band from the end and started sewing by running a few quick stitches at the end to keep it held together. Working from the center around, the best way to keep stitches relatively unnoticeable is to run your needle between the strands (center to center) instead of through the plastic. It also requires less effort. Phew! 

Can you see the stitches? Granted, they're only in a few inches in the center so far...

Maybe now that the internet world knows about it, I'll be more motivated to finish. Especially since it will look so cute with all of Amanda's plants on the porch. I promise to give an update of the finished project.

Do you have the patience for a project like this? Or would you have to put it down and come back from time to time, like me? I'd love to know.



  1. Clever and free are always a good combination. Now get to work on finishing it the internet world is counting on you!

    1. Thanks Anne! That's the kind of motivation I need :)


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