Upcycled Brown Bag

Hi, my name is Miranda and I am a paper bag addict.  A hoarder, if you will.  Please see exhibit A below:

I blame Trader Joe's.  

Anyway - those lovelies have been hogging an entire shelf in my pantry for months now.  I just keep cramming more in when I get back from shopping.  I even have a few piles in the garage.  Oh, the shame...

I decided I needed to find something - ANYTHING - to put these babies to good use before they grew legs and attacked me in my sleep.  I have seen a few things on Pinterest that looked ok - wreaths and such, but nothing gave me motivation to actually clear out that shelf and make something beautiful.  (ok, let's be honest...I PRETEND I make beautiful things but just go with it, ok?)

A basket!  Now, technically the original basket pictured above is made with brown paper packing strips and not paper bags, but that's just a mere technicality!  I finally had something I could get excited about using all my brown paper bags for.  I knew this project would take some time, so I waited until Super Bowl Sunday - ah yes, the day everyone in America watches football with great enthusiasm...everyone that is, but me.  I know I know - I'm un American and all that.  I can't help it, I just can't get into it.  I tucked myself into my craft room instead with a hot cup of coffee and got to work.

Here's what I did: I cut off the top part of the paper bag, right underneath the handles.  Then I cut down one side and when I reached the bottom, I cut around the bottom flat part of the bag.  This creates a long piece of rectangular brown paper like you see in the bottom right hand corner in the picture above.

Then I folded the paper in half, and in half again.

Now, you can either do a bunch of these ahead of time, or one at a time.  I did mine one at a time because I'm completely ADD and can't sit and do one thing over and over and over again.  Here is where you will sew up the sides of your paper.  And, I'm just warning you - paper flies through a sewing machine like butta.  I am not a big paper sewer (go figure) and I thought it was kind of a pain to work with but PRESS ON.

Sew up each side of your folded paper - I left about 1/4" seam allowance - sometimes less, sometimes more depending on how wonky I was sewing.

Then you just start weaving.  I followed the original tutorial in regards to size and amount of strips that I would need.  She used 8 on the bottom of her basket, so that's what I did.  

When you are ready to make the sides of the basket, you need to measure the width across one side of the bottom weaving.  HUH?  I know, I know - here's a handy little diagram to help.

Now, put your Math hat on - maybe a pocket protector and a pair of glasses - because we are about to do a little math.  Ready?  Take the amount that you just measured and add 2 inches.  (My width was about 13 inches...so 13 inches plus 2 inches = 15 inches!)  Take THAT amount and multiply it by 4.  (15 inches x 4= 60 inches!)  THAT last number is the length that your paper strips need to be in order to wrap around the sides to make a basket.  

Now, this presented a tiny problem to me at first because my paper bags weren't that long once I'd cut them. But I quickly got smart and just hot glued 2 strips together and cut at the 60" mark.  I was able to hide the "seam" behind other parts of the basket while weaving it.  I needed 4 strips that were 60" long to make up the sides of my basket.

So now, just weave away!  Feel free to hot glue here and there as you go, to help things stay nice and stable.

Over at Design Sponge, they used paper clips to help in this process so feel free to use those if you need!

When you're done, tuck the ends under or trim off excess paper.  I decided my basket needed a little flair and knew it was the perfect opportunity for me to whip out my JUMBO RIC RAC that I scored from Pick Your Plum.  If you don't get their email deals daily, you should go there at once and sign up.  And order from them a lot.  Not that I do, I'm just saying...maybe you should.

Anyway, TA DA!

Do you love?!  I love!

I have to say, it was pretty cool to take all those paper bags and finally, FINALLY put them to good use in my little crafty world.  My husband thought it was the greatest thing ever - but that might be because I cleared out an entire shelf in the pantry with one fell swoop.