alan skeoch
may 20, 2023

“Oh, Alan,I remember that story you did on CBC radio about the Bead Bag hat.” said Nancy Smith last Friday 
“You have  a good memory…story happened decades ago.”
“Kathleen Simpson was the hat maker….sold the hats at their farm auction .”
“The auctioneer took time to explain how Kathleen gathered a pile of bread bags then got her crochet hook working. “
 “About 30 years ago or more bread was packaged in colourful plastic bags.”
“I think I should do tat story again.”

I did not need to do the story again.  Instead I punched up “bread bag hats’ on my computer and Presto! There
was the story and a picture of me with my bread bag hat.


One  of  my favourite radio  broadcasts…kind I enjoyed  doing…was  the Case of the BREAD  BAG HAT.alanskeoch.ca/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/bread-bag-hat-300×197.jpg 300w, alanskeoch.ca/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/bread-bag-hat-768×503.jpg 768w, alanskeoch.ca/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/bread-bag-hat.jpg 1280w” sizes=”(max-width: 525px) 100vw, 525px” style=”box-sizing: inherit; border-style: none; height: auto; max-width: 100%; display: inline; float: left; margin: 0px 1.5em 0px 0px;”>

We were at a  farm  auction near Marsville, Ontario, about 20 years ago when the auctioneer casually put up a few odd looking hats.  Hats  like  something I had never seen before.
“Ladies and gentlemen these  hats have been  made from  bread  bags.”
“Bread  bags?”
“Plastic bread bags just like these,” and he  held  up some bread bags some  of which were Wonder Bread  and others.
“Mrs. Simpson hates to see things wasted so when she saw all these plastic bags  going to land fill sites she used  here  rug making skills and  began  making bread  bag hats.”
“For auction?”
“Yes, right now…Do  I have a  bid?”
So Marjorie and I bought  a few bread bag hats  and the following week  I turned  it into a radio program.  People  seemed  interested.  Take a look at the hat.

Just for fun I tried variations on the expression “bread bag Hat” such as “how to make a bread bag hat”
“Hats made from bread bags” etc etc.  And each time a picture of Kathleen Simpsons’ hat appears. 
Guess whose mug appears under the hat?  A moment of unexpected fame.The real fee goes to
Katleen Simpson and her decsion to keep plastic bags away from landfills.  A leading lady.

alan skeoch


Recycled Plastic Bag Hat

page1image282196784 page1image282239248

This hat is made from used plastic grocery bags. The bags are cut into strips and crocheted. The result looks a lot like a straw hat. It can be scrunched, folded, washed and/or stomped on without damage. And best of all, it’s all recycled!

This was my first project in crochet, and it’s really easy. The most boring (and therefore the hardest) part is cutting the plastic bags into strips.


20 – 30 plastic grocery bags, cut in strips
Crochet Hook size J (6mm) or closest size. Use wood or metal hook, plastic hooks stick to

the plastic bags. *See notes on back about bag choices + methods of cutting into strips.

There is no gauge since bags come in many weights. The hat is measured in inches as you work. The hat is worked in a spiral, all in single crochet (sc), with increases and decreases determining the shape.


Use your favorite circle method and sc 8 sts into a circle.
**I use the Magic Adjustable Ring, by Donna Hulka. See ** next page. Since the hat is worked as a spiral this is where you should place a marker to keep track of your rounds (see below).

Work 2 sc into each stitch (st) until you have 16 sts. After this keep increasing as much as you need to keep the circle flat. You need to increase 6 – 8 times in each full circle, so you

could place a stitch marker and keep count. Or, like me, you could just guess, and if it starts to curl increase more, or if it looks ruffled stop increasing.


When the circle is around 7 inches in diameter stop increasing. Continue to sc in every st until the hat is the height you want (try it on). 4 inches is a reasonable minimum.


You now need to start increasing again. (I usually increase every 3rd st for the first row, to give it a definite turn.) Then work as you did on the top until your brim is as wide as you desire. Bind off and wear!

Optional: Stitch in a sweatband of some stretchy fabric (old t-shirt?) for comfort.
Add a band and/or decorations. Put a string or shoelace in to tie it under your chin


To give to top edge of your hat definition, sc into the front loop on the last round before turning. Make your hat have a round top by increasing less often.

*Notes on bags.
Bags come in many sizes, colors and weights. It is easiest to use bags of all one weight, but really, anything goes. Cut heavier bags into more narrow strips.
To make strips:

method #1: Spiral cut. Trim off the bottom and handles of the bag. Start at one end and cut into a continuous spiral. The width of the strip is your choice, wider strips need bigger crochet hooks. My favorite method is to put the bag over a pole or tube (broomstick or vacuum cleaner tube?) and hold the scissors and pull the bag towards you. You don’t actually need to snip.

method #2 : Loops. Fold the bag lengthwise into quarters and cut strips across it (more narrow than the spirals)…these make loops. Loop the loops to each other to make a continuous double weight strip, with little lumpies where they are attached.

I personally don’t like crocheting with those little lumps, so I use the spiral method.
** Magic Adjustable Ring (http://www.crochetme.com/Dec_Jan_0405/reads_round.html)

Make a loop. Hold the “yarn” where it crosses and reach your hook through to grab the “yarn” to make a single crochet. Make 8 scs and pull the tail to tighten the loop.

Crochet links:
If you’ve never done crochet you can learn here. If you’re a pro you can get ideas.

http://learntocrochet.lionbrand.com/ – basic instructions in a pdf. http://www.anniesattic.com/ – Stitch instructions in quicktime videos http://www.crochetme.com/ – Online crochet magazine http://www.turn-of-the-century.com/hooks.htm – Gorgeous hand turned wooden hooks

Basic single crochet stitch (sc). But please, get a basic book or check out the links above.

page2image283879136 page2image283879504 page2image283879808 page2image283880112 page2image283880480 page2image283880784 page2image283881088 page2image283881520 page2image283881952 page2image283882256 page2image283882560 page2image283882864 page2image283883168 page2image283883696

Insert hook, put yarn over it and pull through. 2 loops are on hook.

Loop yarn over hook again and pull through both loops.

One single crochet complete. On all rows after first circle insert hook through both loops of lower stitch.

Instructions by Jeanne Borofsky, the Dreaming Printer http://dreamingprinter.com 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *