Saturday, January 31, 2009

Plarn, my way

We interrupt these paper recycling ideas for a quick plarn making tutorial.

What is "Plarn"? Plarn is a slang acronym for Plastic Yarn. Most often it is made from used grocery bags or new trash bags, but any thin flexible plastic sheet could theoretically be made into plarn. There are a few ways to make it, but here you will find my favorite method.

Plarn, My way!

Step 1 - Acquire and prepare your bags. Smooth and flatten them with your hands and cut away the handles and the very bottom edge where the plastic is fused. I usually do about three bags at a time and fold them in half for efficiency.

Step 2- Open your bag and roll it up. Roll or fold in such a way that the open cut edges are at the right and the left. Leave about an inch at the top unrolled.

Step 3- Cut strips. Use scissors or a rotary blade and make cuts at the intervals you like. I personally like my plarn to be about an inch wide. Make sure to leave the unrolled section at the top UNCUT.

Step4- Complete the spiral. Right now, you have a many dangling loops. Make diagonal cuts from the bottom right to the top left (or vice versa if you are left handed) of the strip cuts you've just made. In the photo I have drawn the lines where the first four cuts should be made to help you visualize this pattern. What you are basically doing is jogging each strip to meet the one to the left of it therefore creating a spiral all the way down the bag. I find the best way to accomplish this step is to thread my arm through the bag. This prevents the dangling strips from getting tangled up in each other or accidentally getting cut while the spiral is being completed. If you do accidentally cut a strip, it's not a problem, just see step 5.

Step 5- Connecting plarn ends. Like wool, simply twist the ends of the plarn together. This tightly twisted section will all but disappear in the completed plarn fabric (I say plabric!) If it makes you feel safer, use a tiny dab of glue. I haven't found it neccesary but no one, especially me, will fault you for being careful.

But what do you make with it? Anything that can be made with yarn can be made with plarn. The plabric makes sturdy bags and rugs. Plabric that gets soiled is easily rinsed clean and is therefore great for the beach or the tool shed.
Plarn is also ideal for sculpture as it tends to hold its shape.

Here's to keeping one more non-biodegradable material out of our landfills!


  1. This is a great tutorial. Step number 4 was what I needed, as I could not figure it out just by reading your forum instructions on Etsy.

    Thanks so much! This makes my day ♥

  2. What a great idea! I end up with so many plastic bags this would be a cool solution to all the waste. thanks for helping me stay environmentally responsible!


  3. COOOOOOOL. I Definitely need to try this! It reminds me of when I was in Girl Scouts, we always had to have a woven mat of newspaper to sit on when we were camping-- PLABRIC would have been even BETTER!


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