Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Pasco woman finds new purpose with recycled bag creations


Before she kicked the booze and cocaine, Diana Shingleton felt like an old shopping bag. Used, full of stuff, carried away, abused and ultimately tossed aside. "I had been through rehab several times, and I couldn't even make it home without stopping for a drink," said the 54-year-old former marketer for a Pittsburgh engineering firm. "I lost everything, my home, my family. Everybody hated me."

After finding faith in God and quitting cold turkey three years ago, Shingleton looked to fill all those hours she used to spend drinking and sleeping. It was then she turned to crocheting rag rugs, a hobby she learned as girl from her mother and grandmother.

Wanting to recycle all the plastic shopping bags she had accumulated, Shingleton tried to make a rug with them.

"It worked," she said. "So I started making rugs."

Shortly afterward, someone said, "Why don't you try making a purse?"

That's how her business, Bags By Diana, was born.

Shingleton cuts shopping bags into strips, which she dubbed "plarn," takes a crochet hook and puts it all together to create the outside of a handbag. She uses fabric to line the inside.

"I can picture in my head what I want a bag to look like," she said, sometimes designing one on whatever paper happens to be nearby when inspiration strikes.

So far, inspiration has produced hundreds of bags in various colors and sizes. She even makes Bible covers. Once she made a diaper bag.

"I'm making a lot of little girl purses right now," she said, showing off a kitchen table of bags sized for children, including a blue and white one with a matching "mommy" bag.

Shingleton finds her colors in the bags themselves. She doesn't spray or paint them.

"I can twist them so that the color I want shows."

A tan bag usually came from Publix bags, while JCPenney, CVS and Macy's create a supply of red and white. Yellow bags come Dollar General. Blue comes from Walmart. Sweetbay is one of the few sources of purple. Gray bags come from Kohl's and several other stores.

Pink bags are the toughest to find. For black, she buys trash bags and "up-cycles" them. She even uses newspaper delivery bags for an iridescent look.

Friends and family send her bags from stores in other parts of the country.

"I'm always excited whenever a store changes its bags," she said.

Over the past three years she has sold at least 250 crocheted bags, mostly to friends who request them. Prices range from $15 to $30, depending on the size of the bag. A recent booth at a Tarpon Springs Trash to Treasure sale nearly wiped out her supply.

The side business, along with her regular job putting up signs inside a local department store, has allowed Shingleton to recover from the financial ruin that once had her living at her son's home without a car or a job. It was there, lying on a couch and listening to a television preacher whose name she can't recall, that she decided to turn her 16-year addiction over to God.

"I said, 'I give up,'" said Shingleton, who just moved into a gated apartment community. "I had tried to do it on my own and it wasn't working."

She said she hasn't wanted a drink or hit since.

She gives 10 percent of all her proceeds from bag sales to Shedding Our Silence, a nonprofit support group for women who have experienced trauma. Its goal is to help women see their inner beauty.

"You can see the Lord in all her pocketbooks" said Estell Keshock, a pastor at Calvary Chapel Worship Center and the group's leader, who carries a tan bag with multicolored flecks that Shingleton made. "She went from a black and white to all the colors."

Shingleton also makes plastic rosebud key rings. They represent her life now. Attached to each one is a tract that says "This Rosebud Has A Story."

Like the discarded bags Shingleton turned into something useful and attractive, she writes that God remade her "into something beautiful, useful, colorful, attractive and worth more than I could imagine.

"It's like my whole life started over again," she said.

Pasco woman finds new purpose with recycled bag creations 03/10/12 [Last modified: Saturday, March 10, 2012 1:52pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Who will headline the 2021 Super Bowl halftime show in Tampa?


    The NFL announced Tuesday that Tampa will host Super Bowl LV in 2021, a result of stadium construction delays in Los Angeles.

    Taylor Swift performed at Raymond James Stadium in 2015. Could she return for Super Bowl LV in 2021?
  2. New DEP secretary says there's no conflict in political side businesses


    TALLAHASSEE — When Noah Valenstein, the newly appointed head of the Department of Environmental Protection, was applying in April to be the state's top environmental regulator, he left one thing off the application: Companies he started and his wife runs have been paid nearly $1 million by politicians and lobbying …

     Noah Valenstein got the job as secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection on Tuesday May 23rd, on a unanimous vote by Gov. Rick Scott and the Cabinet. He will take the helm on June 5, with a salary of $150,000 per year. [Florida Governor's Office]
  3. Trump says 'we can use peace' during meeting with Pope Francis


    VATICAN CITY — President Donald Trump and Pope Francis, two leaders with contrasting styles and differing worldviews, met at the Vatican City on Wednesday, setting aside their previous clashes to broadcast a tone of peace for an audience around the globe.

    Pope Francis meets with President Donald Trump on the occasion of their private audience, at the Vatican, Wednesday, May 24, 2017. [Associated Press]
  4. Pinellas construction licensing board looking for ways to fill financial hole

    Local Government

    LARGO — The Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board's interim leader told the governing board Tuesday that the troubled agency is looking for ways to climb out of its

  5. Adam Putnam calls for special session on medical marijuana


    Florida Commissioner of Agriculture and Republican candidate for governor Adam Putnam wants state lawmakers to come back to Tallahassee in a special session to finish the work on medical marijuana that they started but didn't finish earlier this month.

    Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam is a candidate for governor in 2018.