Craft for Humanity – Crochet a Plastic Sleeping Mat for the Homeless

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Creativity with a mission. While the creative process may feel good to us, it can also be useful to others.

Crochet Plastic Sleeping Bag Design

Craft for Humanity: Crochet a Plastic Sleeping Mat for the Homeless

These plastic crochet sleeping mats for the homeless are a project by humanitarian and environmentally concerned Dawn Warmbold from Arkansas that has warmed many hearts and bodies already. Dawn has found her mats to be in high demand.

Craft for Humanity: Crochet a Plastic Sleeping Mat for the Homeless

The  sleeping mats are intended for people who are less fortunate, be that the homeless, or people in the third world.  These crochet mats are remarkable comfortable, and offer just enough to create a barrier between the ground and the body, to help retain body heat while sleeping.  It’s no problem if the mats get wet as they can easily be dried. 

The mats are also a cleaner way of sleeping. Bugs don’t like them. And when dirty, they can be easily hosed off, shaken out and be good to go again.

They are portable as well. The crochet plastic makes for a very lightweight mat. With the accompanying strap, these crochet mats can easily be carried over a homeless person’s shoulder. 

Not only are they  free to make, each  mat will keep 500-700 plastic bags out of the landfill. Humanitarian and eco-friendly!: what is not to love?? !!


Come on, let’s make some mats…

How to Crochet a Plastic Sleeping Mat


Step 1: How to Make Plarn
Craft for Humanity: Crochet a Plastic Sleeping Mat for the Homeless


Start with about 10 plastic bags at a time. Straighten out each bag by pulling at the end and the handles, so that it becomes as nice, smooth and flat as the plastic bag in the picture.  Cut off the plastic bag handles and the bottom of the bag.

Now, for a plastic grocery bag that’s standard in size and in thickness, cut each bag into 4 rings. Loop these rings together, so that you will have one long plastic chain.  This long plastic strip is called ‘plarn’, short for plastic yarn.

Note how the decision to cut each bag into 4 rings is ‘just right’. If you make more rings, you’ll get a longer but thinner plarn, which takes longer to crochet and creates a mat which is not as cushiony.


Crochet Mat Video Tutorial

In this free crochet video, humanitarian and environmentally concerned Dawn Warmbold from Arkansas shares her ideas to help the homeless and  her pattern for making plastic crochet sleeping mats.


Step 2: How to Crochet a Mat

You’ll need a crochet hook size 10 or above. If you get a really large crochet hook, you will find that it’s easier to crochet looser, making the mat more cushiony, and making it more comfortable to crochet with the plastic.


Mat Crochet Pattern

Set-up: ch 42. This is the width of your mat (minus 2 st), and should be approximately 2 1/2 feet-wide.

Row 1: sc into the 40th st, and sc all the way across.  ch 2. Turn over work.  Now, check that your mat is indeed about 2.5 feet wide.

Row 2 – ? : repeat row 1 until your mat is approximately  6 feet-long mat. inches in length.

Cast off.  


Crochet Plarn Tip:

  • For thicker plastic bag, cut smaller strips. 
  • You can use any kind of plastic bag, even from your dry cleaners.
  • If you want to get started, or just figure out if this project is for you (crochet plastic is not soft on hands, after all), why not make a small mat for your back door to your garden. Or a mat for by your outdoor shower?
  • Then, when you are ready, contact your local homeless shelter, or third world help organizations, start collecting plastic bags.
  • If designs matter to you, then sort plastic bags right away by color.

Questions? Email Dawn Warmbold at

Craft for Humanity: Crochet a Plastic Sleeping Mat for the Homeless

Please work with others to create Heaven on Earth. You don’t need a church group in order to start making these mats, but it helps if you are doing this as a group, even as a family. Kids can straighten the bags and cut the strips. Adult hands are best suited to crochet the mats.

No need to wait till Earth day to start this. Start today! 

Project & image credit: Dawn Warmbold

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  1. I think that is a great idea and a good way to give back to the community and help someone at the same time. Thank you for sharing, I have a new project!

  2. Thanks Dawn for this wonderful project and you are beautiful person am starting this today! and sharing on facebook n email what a great way to help people and spread a message of love as well as comfort!

  3. What a wonderful project. Thank you so much for this pattern.

  4. KristiYaYa says:

    Today IS earth day~! What a special day to find this project!!!!! (and quite accidentally, I must say!) I’m going to try to set up a group to make these. That will give us all the joy of one another and a community project. Thank you so much for sharing this project, giving to homeless, and saving the earth! God Bless You, Sister!!!!!

  5. Hai Kristi Yaya!

    How great is this! I love it. Thank you, on behalf of humanity, thank you!!! That would be wonderful. Good luck in setting all this up and I am happy that you are taking on this project.

  6. You are welcome, Marlene!

  7. Susan Coffey says:

    My husband and I feed the needy and homeless in the mountains 5 days a week. What a awesome idea to keep them dry while they sleep.

  8. Lillian-Rose, says:

    I am so so blown away, by your skill and ingenuity for this idea Dawn. Being raised by parents who always believed in participating in our local community, and showing others by example, how they to could be involved, giving all people a sense of worth and value. No matter what was happening in our own lives, there were always people doing it tougher and harder than us. You Dawn, have taken their teaching to a higher level. ” CONGRATULATIONS and WELL DONE .”

    My parents are gone now, but I have spent my whole life living by the ethics they instilled in me, much to hard to change. Where ever I have lived, and through my work, setting up Food Co-ops – Mobil Kitchens – Helping Families – Feeding the Homeless – or just being a Friendly Face, everyone needs to know someone cares, and are thinking of them. A smile goes a long long way.

  9. Blanca Garcia Campos says:

    Hi, from Spain. What a great idea,
    At this time in Spain are a lot of people out of look, and I will try to do it, but I don´t hava a idea how to start o where to go to start.
    Good bless you

  10. Popped on over to your site from Joyful Mama. Thank you for sharing this idea! I am always looking for ways for kids, young and old, to serve.

  11. Bravo…an elegant design for a mattress.

    I do a lot of plarning…this will be added into the repertoire.

    Such a great cause.

    Thank you.

  12. Thanks Dawn, our church group is looking for a project. I think we found it.

  13. Mariane Christian says:

    We have a ministry that helps the homeless. This is such a wonderful idea and we’re going to get started in making these. God bless you!

  14. Rick skimmings says:

    These people don’t need more garbage to sleep on, they need homes!!!!!!

  15. I’ve just sent this link to a number of supermarkets. I would like to encourage others to do so and see if we can get some, or at least one, of them to make it a publicity campaign.

  16. Dee! You are brilliant !! What a great idea. I will keep you posted if I am contacted, okay?! I hope you will help bring it to fruition…. Kiss, Rose

  17. If you live in the Arlington, Tx area Or travel to this area…. we would love you to become one of our urban friends and make these mats, we have many urban friends willing to accept such a useful gift!

    Follow us on

  18. Thanks, Stephen, for contacting us. I usually remove links in comments as they are often spammy, but I shall leave yours in tact. I love your rephrasing of ‘homeless’ for ‘urban friends’ as it sure sounds way better! I am VERY keen to feature further homeless projects and so perhaps we could work together on this. You could write directly for this blog if you want (with loads of readers already), which might jumpstart your initiative.

  19. You are right, Rick. They do need homes. The mats are mere helps in the process of doing so!

  20. Hi Mariane! How are you getting on with making the mats? Are they a hit? Any advice for other groups??!

  21. Linda, please let us know what other things you make with plarn. We would love to feature more (of your?) ideas! Hugs, Rose

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