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Sunday, 13 May 2012

Playing with plastic bags

Hi there. As one or two people showed an interest in fusing plastic I thought I would do another post about it. I've made another bag, this time using plastic I got from the Scrapstore when it closed down. You could use any plastic bags you have, the bigger the better. I have been experimenting with charity shop bags, but as these are mostly made from biodegradable material now, with very little plastic content, they don't stick together very well. Here I have sheets of red, and one large, clear plastic bag.

It doesn't matter too much about exact measurements, bags can be any size you want. I have cut three pieces of red, and one of clear. I use a piece of board on my table, it is an old dining room table which someone gave me, so I'm not too bothered about it, but if you have a posh table be carefull to protect it from the heat of the iron. I picked out some bits and pieces to decorate it, cut from charity bags, and others. Place these on the red plastic and cover with a piece of the clear on top, this will seal them in. You don't have to use the clear if you haven't got any, the bits will stick just the same, but some of the colours may come off onto the paper you put on top, and make it a bit smudgey.

Put your paper on top and bottom, have iron on hot, and quickly iron all over it, pressing down hard. My baking paper isn't big enough to cover the whole thing, so I peel it off while still warm, and reposition it over the bits around the edges which I have missed. It only takes a few seconds, peel the paper off when still warm and check that all of the plastic has fused evenly with no big bubbles in it. It will be crinkly, that's fine, but if you iron for too long the piece will become too distorted to use, you need it to stay flat. Always work in a well ventilated area and iron at arms length, open doors and windows. Melting plastic can be dangerous.

Then I made a second piece with no decorations on it. Trim the edges on both pieces with a knife and a straight edge like a ruler, you don't need to measure them. Put them together, outsides facing in and make sure the edges match up all the way round, trim if needed.

Then the rest is as I described for the other bag. Sew up the sides and bottom. Nip bottom corners to give it a flat base. Fold strips of plastic, and iron to make the handles. I like to fold the ends underneath as I am turning over the top edge.

This bag is 13" x 16", the other one was 14" x 17"

Fusing plastic in this way makes it very strong, it's my guess that it will last many years. The only weak spot I can see is if the stitching gives way, and the only way to get round that is to weld the seams, and that would be far to complicated.

You can use more layers for a stiffer piece, but then you might not be able to get it through the sewing machine. Or you could use less layers if you wanted to make a lightweight bag. Experiment and find the best solution for yourself. Half the fun of it is creating something different, and unique, something no one else has. Have fun playing :o)


  1. These are great! I loved the last one and this one turned out fab too!

  2. That's super ! well done

  3. I really like these bags! Such a great use of something most would simply throw away. They're very pretty too. I bet people will ask where you got it next time you go out!

  4. Your creativity still amazes me. Isn't it good making something useful out of something normally disposed of?

    Was GREAT to talk the other night... really looking forward to meeting you!

  5. That looks great!

    This might be a daft question but can you iron them on an ironing board?

  6. Hi Ilona,
    Another Aussie reader here - was from UK originally so I enjoy all your pics. Love your bags! I have a collection of 'fancy' plastic bags to turn into a picnic mat backing, saw it somewhere on the net, done in similar way by fusing the cut open bags in layers to make it strong. Then sew some old blanket/ fabric on the top for a soft bit to sit on !
    Thanks for the inspiration !

  7. What a marvelous idea! I am always hanging on to fancy plastic bags that aren't really very practical in themselves -- now I can actually use them to make something very useful and of customized design! Thanks very much for the tutorial.

  8. The bag looks great, I didnt realise it was so straightforward x

  9. Hi LBM. The surface of an ironing board is too soft. You need to squash the plastic sandwich between two hard surfaces, by pressing down hard with the iron. You also need to stop ironing at the precise moment when the bags are fused together, before they shrink and become distorted. It's ok to lift the paper and check. Practise on some plain bags first. If you are making a larger piece you need a bigger surface to work on.

    Hi Mabel, Nice to hear from you. That's a good idea to make a backing for a picnic blanket. You can overlap several smaller pieces to make one large piece. If you want to roll the blanket up you might not need many layers, even two or three might do the job.

  10. Excellebt idea, am saving all those cereal bags now. they look so strong and funky too! Will make a good liner for the car boot too save ruining the carpet.

  11. Wonder if you could use a laminator to fuse the plastic together between a card protector. Only problem with that would be the size. Biggest I think is A3.

  12. I've got a few plastic carrier bags I am keeping just because I like the design. I'll have to look back to this and see if I can do it.

    These just remind me of the recycled bags you buy from places like The Eighth Day Vegetarian Health Food Shop and Cafe in Oxford Road, Manchester. They're expensive.

  13. Don't have time to read this right now but it sounds awesome. I'd like to book mark it and try it some time.

  14. Great idea - cannot wait to try.i am reminded of a mat we all made when going on Guide camp as a teen. we folded newspaper into strips about 5cm wide.then we wove them together to make a flat square.the square was then covered in sticky backed plastic.this made a really good mat for sitting on around the campfire.i think i will make another using a pocket made of fused bags following your idea rather than sticky backed plastic. Great for gardening!


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