Day 26: Fused-Plastic-Bag Pouches and Tote Bag

OK, I read about this technique early on in my 30Days of Creativity project research, and I knew I wanted to do it!  You take flimsy plastic shopping bags and fuse them together with an iron to create a thicker, more sturdy plastic.  Once you’ve got your fused-plastic material you can make any number of things but I loved the idea of these small, zippered pouches and tote bags.

There was only one problem.  I don’t sew.  But lucky for me I have my pick of people who DO sew right in my family and when I asked my sister Kathleen, she agreed to help me out.  Which is why these turned out so well!

First I needed to create the fused-plastic material we would be working with.  I scavenged some great plastic bags (a variety of sized and weights, from the flimsiest produce bag to a really sturdy, heavier plastic, large sized shopping tote bag).

Here is a great tutorial by Anda Lewis.  She has more experience doing this.  Check it out.

Fused Plastic Bags:

Open a window or door so your work space is well-ventilated.

Cut off the handles and bottom seams of the bags.

Cover your ironing board with parchment paper.

If your bags have any design on them, turn them inside out so the ink is on the inside.  When it is heated, the ink tends to run and make a mess.

Layer between 6 and 8 single layers of plastic with your prize pieces of plastic on the top.

Cover the plastic with parchment paper

With iron set at medium high, start pressing,  moving it constantly.  Be sure and go to all the edges.  Flip it over, and iron again.  Now, careful, because it is hot, check and see if your plastic is all fused or needs a little more heat.  If it is bubbled or has places that seem to still be in layers, iron it some more.  The bags have different thicknesses, so you may need to do a couple of trail runs.  My first try was too thick but I got the hang of it.

I can’t give you the specifics on the sewing.  But Kathleen assured me that if you DO sew and have a sewing machine that can handle heavy-duty sewing tasks, this is an easy sewing project.  She put both the zippers in and let me do a few straight seams (well, they were supposed to be straight) but after I sewed one whole pouch the wrong way out, I handed over the sewing side of things with relief.

But I really DID some of the sewing.  See photographic proof:

While she was sewing, I kept her dog, Ruby, company.

Kathleen suggests putting in the zipper first to make it easier.  Like this:

I love how these turned out!

The outside layer of the pencil pouch was a bag from Flax and if you take a close look at the photo you can see the bags are “80% recycled material”!  So we’re re-recycling them!  The zippers and thread are new so these pouches are probably 80% or more recycled.

I scavenged the plastic bags, fused the plastic and trimmed the pieces, but Kathleen did all the sewing on this great little tote bag.  Thank you, Kathleen and Ruby for helping me see this project come to fruition.

When I went to see my folks and show off the project for Day 26, I also got to see their dog, Molly, and I couldn’t resist a picture.

Thanks for stopping by.


Filed under 30DOC, Crafts

21 responses to “Day 26: Fused-Plastic-Bag Pouches and Tote Bag

  1. This is absolutely brilliant! Thank you so much for posting about this and inspiring me to try this out! I am going to start collecting plastic bags.

    • I admit that I went to a bin outside a grocery store and raided their bags left for recycling! Using interesting bags adds to the fun. Let me know if you make something and thanks for the nice comment.

  2. Rover

    What cute doggies!!
    How about an art project that the dogs help you make?

    • Thanks, they are pretty cute!
      When I hike with the dogs I sometimes take pictures than use the pictures for cards. So the dogs help…in a way. Thank for stopping by. Woof!

  3. I love your very creative blog!! I’ll be following this!
    I did this plastic bag ironing thing during my art foundation last year- we mainly just used it as an art form- you’ve just given me the inspiration to make a waterproof purse/cameracase/iphone cover with them, thanks!! 😀
    You’ve also reminded me I could put my portfolio up online!

    Please feel free to visit my blog!

    • Thanks very much! Isn’t the fused plastic cool? I will defintely come back to it. I would love to see a picture if you make something. And I will check out your blog too. Thanks.

  4. Maria

    Dianne–this is my favorite one so far! I’m inspired to try it. Maria

    • Hey, Maria – You SHOULD try it. The link I included showed some really incredible tote bags and maybe I’ll try one of those when I finish the 30 Days project. She shows one where you can recognize the Target bag. Only thing is, I still don’t sew so would have to rely on my sister for that part of it. Please let me know if you do it! The girls would probably enjoy the sunprinting too.

  5. Lindy Jung

    Molly is so cute with her summer cut! Reading about your stuff is fun!


    • I couldn’t help myself – had to include the doggie pics. She does look great with her summer cut. Thanks, I’m having fun but I’ll be glad when I get to the end of the 30 days and take a breather.

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  11. This is great, Dianne! I especially love the tote bag without a zipper. Do you know where I might find a link for a how-to on that one?

    • Sorry, I don’t. I am lucky enough to have a sister who took over that project and did it without a pattern. I would do a search online for free tote bag patterns and I think you’ll be able to find something. Good luck!

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  13. we need people like you on this earth. Thank you dianne. Keep it up!

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