DIY Woven Plastic Basket

Reuse can be a powerful tool when trying to give materials intended for the trash a second life. Plastic bags are tricky to recycle, but in this art project you can learn how to reuse them. Using a simple weaving technique alone, you can create this small gem. The materials and instructions outlined will produce a small basket you can hold in your hand, but you can increase the materials to make the basket as large as you would like. Feel free to adapt the colors of the various bags to fit the color palette of your choosing. In this example I try to go for a high contrast look of white plastic and very dark green plastic so that woven pattern stands out more. Whatever color palette you decide, you will end up with a beautiful woven piece that practices reuse in a stylish way.

This craft project was created by Recology Sonoma Marin's Public Education Manager and trash artist, Marie Kneemeyer for a free class hosted by the Sonoma Community Center in April 2021.

View tutorial on Youtube

Materials to make small basket that can fit in one hand:

  • Scissors
  • 1 colorful plastic bag (this is your "thread" that wraps around the guts)
  • 3 similar weight, similar color plastic bags (these are the "guts")
  • Crochet needle
  • Clip board and some books


Make your guts/braid

  1. Take your first of the three bags, press it flat on the table
  2. Take your scissors, cut off the top and bottom of the back so your result is a large tube
  3. Eyeball the tube as 1/3's with the imaginary lines running parallel to the edges you just cut off
  4. On the bottom edge cut diagonally 1/3 into the tube, then turn your scissors and begin to cut parallel with your first cuts when you removed the top and bottom.
  5. Continue to cut flipping the piece to see where you are cutting and being careful not to cut the bottom of the tube
  6. When you meet your initial diagonal cut (don't cut straight or you will chop your strip short) cut another diagonal the next 1/3 of the way, then turn again so you are cutting parallel with your first cuts. Continue cutting.
  7. When you get close to your diagonal you just cut, stop at about a distance equal to the width of your strip, and cut a diagonal so that it cuts open the tube and you have one long strip.
  8. REPEAT 2 more times for the other two bags
  9. Now you should have three very long strips around 4in wide (depending on your bag size). Take these three strips and line them up edge to edge then fold in half
  10. Taking the folded edge, slip just the very tip into a clipboard
  11. Then separating the strands into 3 sets of 2 strips each, braid the length of the strips
    1. Make sure to make the braid tight and uniform, and don't clip too much of the folded strips in the clipboard. You may also want to use a book to stabilize your strip as you go so you can get taunt.
  12. When you reach the end sew the tip in a similar color to your guts and then cut the remaining tuff at a dramatic angle
  13. Your guts are ready!

Prep your thread

  1. Grab your colorful bag
  2. Cut off the bottom in a straight line as possible
  3. Use a similar technique as making the strips in the first section, but MUCH smaller. Only cut a diagonal that is 1/4in, then turn the scissors like before and begin to cut parallel to your cut-off bottom. Your "thread" will be about 1/4in wide the entire length
    1. Go slow, this is very thin and can be easily cut prematurely
  4. Continue cutting using the technique you did with the guts until you have a length about the width of your arms
  5. REPEAT for a second skinny strip of "thread". You should now have two strips of "thread" for wrapping.


  1. Take your thread in one hand, and non-sewn braid end in the other hand
  2. Overlap the tip of the thread about 2in on the end of the braid
  3. Wrap the thread around the overlap piece and braid until the 2in length is covered
  4. Fold the wrapped part in half so that it makes a loop when you pinch it together
  5. Wrapping away from you, now wrap the folded tip of the braid to the part it is touching leaving the folded end open so there is small peephole still
  6. Fold the loop again going in the same direction as the first fold (this is the beginning of the coil
  7. Now wrap the thread around the outer braid and using the crochet thread or crochet hook pull it up the peep hole in the center
  8. Wrap once around the braid only, then on the second wrap around the braid pull it up through the center peep hold again
  9. Continue this until you have completed one layer
  10. Once you have completed one round, continue doing this action except now instead of pulling it up through the center pull it up through the layer below the one you are working on.
  11. Continue the rhythm of wrap braid, sew into the previous layer, wrap braid, sew into previous layer, etc. until you reach the end
    1. IMPORTANT: All the while you are doing this you are pulling the braid taunt, so it is sitting on top of the previous level. This is what makes your bowl a bowl and not a flat disc when you are done.
  12. When you reach the end sew into the next layer a few times covering the very tip of the braid completely. Stuff any loose strands under your thread
  13. Tie it off: Insert your needle with your thread attached under an existing wrapped thread on the previous level near where you just wrapped the tip of your braid, pull the thread through then pull the thread through that open loop of your thread. Pull tight to make a knot. Don't pull too tight though or your plastic will break! Tie another knot if you are worried about it coming out
  14. trim the thread near the knot so there is a half-inch tail, stuff the tail into your work - and voila!

You have a basket!