This project takes weaving for kids to a whole new level.  Not only will your kids learn some basic weaving skills but alllll of the materials used are 100% upcycled.  That’s right- a zero cost art project because all of the materials were headed to to the trash anyways!  Save a water bottle and an old t-shirt and get ready for a new kind of water bottle craft!

A plastic bottle craft…

This weaving for kids starts with an old water bottle as a structure to weave on.  Depending what size and shape you want your final weaving you could choose different types of containers.  We used small water bottles and Gatorade bottles but any plastic container would work.  Experiment with cottage cheese containers, yogurt cartons, and all different shapes and sizes.

A bonus of using a water bottle for this plastic bottle craft is water bottles are made from such thing pliable plastic that’s super easy to cut through.

100% recycled craft materials,,,

While the structure for this weaving for kids is built on a plastic bottle even the yarn is upcycled.  It’s homemade t-shirt yarn– actually made from an old t shirt!  I love this yarn for a couple of reasons.  First, it’s free.  Second, because you’re making the yarn yourself you can make it as skinny or as wide as you want.  Thicker yarn adds up faster when weaving.  Which for kids means quicker gratification because they can see progress more quickly.

See this DIY t-shirt yarn post for the details on exactly how to make your own t-shirt yarn.  It’s a quick process that turns an old t-shirt into a hefty ball of yarn.

Creating a structure to weave on from a plastic bottle…

If your kiddo has never done any weaving before I suggest starting with a simple paper weaving.  It will allow your child to get the hang of that under over patterning before moving onto a more challenging three dimensional type of weaving like this plastic bottle craft.

Then you’re ready to prepare your bottle for weaving.  Use a sharp pair of scissors to puncture the plastic in the top “neck” of the bottle.  Trim all the way around the bottle- separating the neck of the bottle and leaving a column of plastic.  Most water bottles have ridges running around the bottle.  Leaving a ridge at the top of the bottle will be a good thing for your weaving.  That lip will give your last row or two of weaving a place to settle and not slip right off the finished product.

Making an odd number of cuts…

Next you’ll want to make an odd number of cuts from the top of the water bottle down to the base.  More cuts means smaller and smaller strips of plastic to weave in and out of.  Fewer cuts means larger sturdier strips of plastic to weave around. Either choice is fine but fewer cuts does make for a simpler weaving process.  You know your kids and what will work for them!

It’s super important that you make an ODD number of cuts. This ensures that when you’re weaving and get all the way around the plastic bottle that the weaving pattern will continue correctly.  If you make an even number of cuts the weaving pattern won’t alternate like it should.

We used two different types of water cottles and each had an impression on the bottom that divided the bottle into an odd number of segments.  (See the pic below.)  If you’re lucky enough to use a bottle like that just cut from the edge of the bottle down to each ridge and you’re ready to weave.  If not- do your best to divide it up into five, seven, or nine somewhat equal parts.  Perfection not necessary.

How to start weaving for kids…

Choose any color to start weaving.  Leave a decent sized “tail” on the inside of the bottle.  You can always trim it or tuck it in later.  Use a simple over/ under pattern to work all the way around the bottle.  If you have an odd number of vertical plastic strips and you followed that over/ under pattern consistently when you get back to where you started the second row of weaving will naturally be opposite of the first.  Anywhere the first row is “under” the second row will be “over” and vice versa.

For a hands on look at how to make this weaving for kids watch the video tutorial below…..

Ready to switch colors…..

Why make things harder than they have to be.  We simply tied two pieces of the t-shirt yarn together and trimmed all excess.  These knots don’t need to be incredibly durable as once the yarn is woven there won’t be much stress or strain on them.  It’s a simple and easy way to switch colors and/ or textures of yarn.

In most cases it worked out to “hide” the know on the inside of the bottle weaving.  Even if they end up on the outside the knots are small enough to be inconspicuous.

Just keep weaving….

As you weave you want to keep punching the layers down to compact them.  The more tightly woven your weaving is stacked the more weaving you’ll see and the less plastic water bottle that will peek through!

Finishing your water bottle weaving….

Every water bottle we used had nice ridges along the top that work perfectly to anchor the rows of weaving and keep them from slipping right off the top.  If you use a sour cream carton or something like that I’d recommend keeping that very top “lip” attached just for this reason.  It’s a nice natural ending.

Leave a tail of a few inches and tuck it down into the weaving on the inside of the bottle.


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The Artists and the Elements is an art program designed to connect the elements of art, art history, and fun, hands on art projects!