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How To Use Plarn For Braided Bracelet Jewelry Recycled Craft Projects

C.S. Alexis works in an art gallery located in the Calumet region of Northwest Indiana. Come see her at One Best Life at Tinker's Attic.

My First Plarn Jewelry Bracelet

Handcrafted Bracelet made from plarn looks like natural fiber when natural colored bags are used to make the plarn.

Handcrafted Bracelet made from plarn looks like natural fiber when natural colored bags are used to make the plarn.

Plarn Is Affordable and A Most Useful Product Made From Plastic Bags

This idea is one that struck my fancy in a big way. Not only does it produce an amazing material to use for a wide variety of crafts, it is an idea that puts those, oh too many, plastic bags back to work. A better alternative to dumping them on Mother Nature's door step.

Dubbed as PLARN, what I am referring to is plastic grocery bags turned into yarn. Made by simply cutting and connecting the cut pieces. Cool things can be made out of Plarn in place of, or in combination with organic yarns and man made fibers. This is one awesome idea and is really a simple, yet magnificent solution for several environmental concerns.

Plarn can be made at home for free. Making plarn is a good way to recycle and it is fun to make. Almost anyone can make plarn, and making your own plarn allows you to control the thickness and consistency as well as the color of your finished plarn crafting material.

Making Plarn is Easy

All you need to make plarn is some recycled plastic grocery or shopping bags and a pair of sharp scissors. You can make plarn any color but it will depend on the bags you have available. The plarn will turn out to be the color of the bags. Note that it is best to use bags that are the same weight of plastic bag making material. I found this out by experimenting. Some bags are heavier than others. Try to stay with the same weight when putting your plarn together.

Mixing colors is okay if you do not mind the variety of color in your finished product. Putting all the same color of bags together will give a certain consistency to the color of the finished plarn ball. The plarn can be used as you would any other yarn for crocheting, knitting, braiding and macrame, just to name a few crafts that normally use manufactured yarns.

Making 1 Ply Plarn

Making 2 Ply Plarn

Additional Plarn Making Techniques and Suggestions

Making 1ply plarn seems to be a little more involved than making a heavier version known as 2ply plarn. This method is faster and the plarn ball is sturdier, but 2 ply may not turn out the gauge of plarn you prefer so it is best to understand both methods. Personally I like to do things fast so I use the 2ply method for my projects.

Cutting the plastic bags at 1/2" wide instead of 3/4" or 1" strips will also deliver a lighter weight plarn ball. I suggest experimenting as you develop your plarn making techniques and adapt them to your craft.

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How to Braid 3 Strands

Braiding Plarn For Jewelry Bracelet

For my simple bracelet jewelry I do not make the plastic bags into plarn but rather use the cut loops as material for braiding. I start by knotting three loops together to make my braid. The 3 strand technique is used but I use 2ply to make a good sturdy finished braid. This means in the 3 strand method I have 2 pieces of plastic per strand, then braid up the three pieces to finish.

Many Uses for Plarn

Here I braided the plarn to make reigns for a miniature driftwood rocking horse

Here I braided the plarn to make reigns for a miniature driftwood rocking horse

Examples of Braided Plarn Jewelry Bracelets

A Natural Bone focal bead

A Natural Bone focal bead

A wood toggle bead and loop, note the wrapped thread finish on this piece

A wood toggle bead and loop, note the wrapped thread finish on this piece

Make A Plarn Bracelet

You can make a very interesting bracelet by braiding a length of plarn and finishing the ends to make the clasp. I used a simple loop and focal bead to finish several jewelry bracelets. The plarn is braided about two or three inches longer than needed for the finished bracelet. This allows you enough length to make a loop on one end and tie off a focal bead at the other end.

Make the braid plenty long because you will cut it off as you finish the ends and since the plarn is free for the making you don't have to feel like you are wasting materials.

Look at the finished photos and see that the loop end was tightly wrapped many times with regular sewing thread. I wrapped it and tied it off several times before cutting the thread to finish. This makes a neat loop and is very secure.

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The focal bead is made to fit through the loop more or less like a button. This holds the bracelet secure to your wrist. The plarn can be tied off from the focal bead and cut at the knotted end. I also applied a bit of heat to the knotted end using my wood burning tool to melt the knot just a little. This seemed to add extra strength to the finished knot.

Your focal beads can be made from a number of different materials. I have used small bits of hardwood, and bones for my jewelry bracelets made with plarn. All you need is a piece that has a single hole in it big enough to thread the plarn through and then tie it off. Look close at the finished bracelet photos for more ideas.


Angie Evans on October 19, 2018:

When i attempt to open the pattern for sleeping mats for the homeless, all i get is the instructions for bracelets. Please help.

billn13 on September 28, 2018:

I am trying to bring up pattern for homeless mats, and bracelets are the only I see. Please help

Jennifer on August 10, 2018:

I am trying to find the homeless bed roll pattern but I am only getting things for bracelets. Help, Please

Pat on February 19, 2018:

i was trying to print homeless mat, bracelet keeps coming up??? help

prasetio30 from malang-indonesia on May 16, 2013:

Very inspiring hub and very creative. Thanks for sharing with us. I love the pictures as well. Voted up and awesome :-)


Chace from Charlotte, NC on May 16, 2013:

How cool! I've never heard of plarn. These are so creative. :) Voted up++

Audrey Hunt from Pahrump NV on May 16, 2013:

I want to do this. Excellent ideas for recycling plastic bags. Bracelets would make great Christmas gifts. Appreciate your clear instructions and photos.

Lisa J Warner AKA Lisa Luv from Conneticut, USA on May 10, 2013:

Wow! Very nice write.. I loved the little horse picture too!

Eiddwen from Wales on May 10, 2013:

How interesting and unusual.

I shall share onto FB CREATIVE WORLD .

Looking forward to many more now.


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