September 1, 2014

how-to // fuse plastic bags

This is a fun trick I picked up in high school. Fusing plastic shopping bags creates a sturdy, fabric-like material that can be used in a variety of different ways. Plus it's a great way to recycle all those bags that pile up under your kitchen sink. 

Today you're also going to learn a fun fact about me: I love Target. I try not to - it's so stereotypically white girl of me. It's a proven fact though. When I pulled out my collection of shopping bags to do this tutorial, I noticed a familiar theme. Red targets. Lots & lots of red targets. 

You will want to pick shopping bags in fun prints or colors; & if you're feeling super crafty you can cut your plastic into shapes & fuse the shapes into the material!

To fuse plastic bags, all you'll need are:
  • Plastic shopping bags
  • Wax paper 
  • Scissors
  • An iron & ironing board
  • An open window! 

I have printer paper in this picture too, but (honesty moment) I misremembered how to do this craft trick. I ditched the paper after three ruined attempts. You live & you learn.

Lay out a plastic shopping bag. Cut off the bottom & the handles. I folded the bag into thirds for a total of six layers of plastic. You'll want to make sure you cut your plastic layers down so they are smaller than your wax paper. 

On your ironing board, lay down your materials in the following way: a piece of waxed paper (waxy side up), plastic bag layers, then another piece of waxed paper (waxy side down). Facing the wax paper in keeps the plastic from sticking to anything. 

Set your iron somewhere between the polyester setting & the cotton setting (or medium-high heat). Make sure that the iron is completely heated before you begin. Open up a window before you start too! Even though you're just fusing the plastic together & not melting it, it may still produce fumes. Once the iron is hot, iron your material in a circular manner. Iron for approximately 15-20 seconds, paying close attention to the edges of your plastic bags. Flip the whole thing over, & iron for another 15-20 seconds. 

Wait for your plastic bags to cool, then peel off the waxed paper. Done!

The plastic turns out best when fused no more than six layers at a time. If you want thicker material, follow the steps as before, but make two pieces of fused plastic. Then fuse those two pieces together. 

Now what to do with your awesome fused plastic? You can use it to make wallets, belts, bags - anything that needs to be made from a sturdy material. It's easily sewn into with a heavy duty needle. Keep in mind when you're working with this material that it is plastic, so if you're sewing into it, don't use pins to hold your pieces in place. Masking or painters tape can be used instead.

Check out what I made out of mine!


Related // Recycle an old t-shirt into a bag!

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