Weaving with mail satchels : The Remnant Bag

'The Remnant Bag'
‘The Remnant Bag’

The ‘fabric’ for this bag was woven with strips of plastic for mail satchels.

It was woven on the same warp as the first bag that I made using plastic wrappers for Plastic Free July, last year.  That bag has been carrying home my shopping each week as is holding up well.  It’s quirkiness still gets a few questions at the check-out and often a few surprised looks when I point out the different product wrappers in the weave.

Planning the bag

This bag has had a little bit more planning.  In particular, all the plastics are a similar weight and are quite soft.  All are mail satchels and the inner plastic bags from online fabric purchases, mostly from The Remnant Warehouse (RM).

'Remnant Bag' weaving detail
‘Remnant Bag’ weaving detail

The hot pink is their inner bag.  It is a biodegradable plastic so it will be interesting to see how it holds up.  One of the bags is at least 5 years old, and showed no sign of breaking up, so I suspect it is one of the types that needs high heat to start the breakdown process.

The white, grey and black are from the mailing satchels.  RM’s outer packaging is white with a grey backing.  Standard Australia Post satchels are white and red with a black backing. Depending on which side of the plastic was facing up during the weaving, I could change the colour of the weaving.  I also had a old Suzanne Grae plastic bag ( at least 20 years old) that would give me some purple

I did a few sketches to see how the colours might work before I started weaving.

'Remnant Bag' design options
playing with colours for the design

Weaving the bag

The mailing labels were removed as much as possible so they didn’t stiffen the “yarn”.  Then the bags were cut into 15mm strips and wound onto the rag shuttles that Dear Hubby had made for me.

The weaving went a lot better than the previous bag as the “yarn” was more consistant.  The patterning from the rosepath motifs showed up much better.  I’m quite happy with how the different colours worked.  It’s bold, but in a good way.

'Remnant Bag' weaving detail
‘Remnant Bag’ weaving detail

Sewing the bag

The construction is the same as for the previous bag.  I didn’t have any webbing tape that matched well so I stitched some black denim onto some of the yellow webbing to make the tape.  Looks pretty good for recycled rubbish hey?

'The Remnant Bag'
‘The Remnant Bag’

Bad karma project?

After weaving the length that I needed for the bag, I still had 2-3m of warp still on the loom.  Quite a few of our bath towels had reached their end of life and I got the crazy idea of weaving them into a rug.  I say crazy, because I didn’t plan the colours like I did for the bag and just jumped in.  I wanted the main colour to be the green and made it up as I went along.

I think this rug has a bit of bad karma, as the day I started ripping the towels into strips was the day that the fires started in our area.  From my loom, I look out the window to Mt Buffalo, glancing out at the mountain as I weave.  I saw the lightning strikes on The Back Wall.  Over the next few days, the wisps of smoke grew larger and the fire spread.  Over the following weeks, the mountain was blocked out by smoke and sometimes I couldn’t see 20m into our garden.  Evacuation alerts at 2 in the morning!  Occasionally the smoke cleared, only to watch the blaze running up the ridges behind Nug Nug.  The day I cut the warp off, was the day that we got a little bit of rain.

The rug isn’t pretty and carries a lot of bad memories and stress.  So it’s a little hard to look at.  At the moment, it is outside as a mat under our deck chairs.  After a few more dust storms, the colours might blend a little more into something pleasing.  It is nice and soft underfoot so I’ll keep it for the time being.

Bath towel rag rug
Bath towel rag rug – just off the loom and before binding and weaving in the ends

Next steps

For weaving, my next project will likely to be a scarf.  I’d like to try ikat dying, or perhaps try a crackle draft.  Later in the year I’ll start planning a more conventional wool rug.

As for Plastic Free July, we still haven’t bought any biscuits.  I’ve learnt how to make pasta and ravioli.  Our soft plastic waste has reduced a lot.  Bread making is the next on the list.

4 thoughts on “Weaving with mail satchels : The Remnant Bag

  1. So glad you are okay and that the fires kept their distance.

    Even here in Sydney we have not been able to see across the road, due to smoke so I can’t imagine what you have been going through.

    Fabulous bag, the colours and designs look so fresh. So good to hear the first one is still going strong.

    Looking it another way the rug has the greenery in it that will be starting to renew, it surprises me how quick that can happen with a little bit of moisture and what about the gorgeous red of the flowering gums.


  2. I particularly love the shopping bag. I only have a tiny tablet loom so I’d need to make lots of tablets to get a whole bag.


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