The Never Ending Plastic Bag Story

plastic bag wallet Raise your hand if you’re like me and have an overflowing bag of plastic shopping bags?

Ok, good. That’s just about everyone.

Raise your hand if you try and reuse them for random things like other trash bags and carrying lunch to work?

Great! I think that’s still a good chunk of you.

Now, raise your hand if you still have all these bags and still don’t know what to do with them but refuse to throw them away?

Yup, that’s what I thought.

Well you’re in luck because this week I am going to explore a bit about what to do with all those plastic bags. I’ve already told you about Conserve, a wonderful company that employs rag pickers in India to pick up plastic bags and then uses the bags to create the most amazing purses and totes. I’ve always wondered how to make bags out of plastic and knew that it involved fusing plastic together, but that’s about it. So I started to do a bit of research into what it take to do it yourself.

From the looks of these three tutorials it seems pretty simple. All you really need to fuse plastic are your plethora of plastic bags, an iron, freezer paper, parchment paper or other scrap paper, and a well ventilated area.

Start by cutting open your bags and cutting off the handles so they will lay flat. Layer between 6 to 8 pieces of plastic together and place them between the paper of your choice. Place a hot iron down on the paper and keep it moving. You want to continue to iron until the plastic has fused into one smooth piece. Depending on your iron this varies, so keep an eye on it! Once it is all “one-piece” let it cool and you are ready to use it however you see fit.

This fused plastic is really easy to cut and sews well too. Use it as a fabric substitute for either of these patterns. Or if you just like the look of the plastic and don’t have the time or can’t possibly add another craft to your crafting repertoire, check out these Etsy sellers and their take on fused plastic.

With these simple materials, just think of all the money and waste you save. With a little searching, you can find plenty of sites offering easy cash advances, but this way is much less risky.

Have you tried this technique? What did you make? Have any tips for the rest of us? Leave them in the comments!

Photo credit:I’mStillME!

Written by Kelly Rand

Kelly covers visual arts in and around Washington, DC for DCist and is editor of Crafting a Green World. Kelly has also been published by Bust Magazine and you can find her byline at Indie Fixx and Etsy’s Storque and has taught in Etsy’s virtual lab on the topic of green crafting.

Kelly helps organize Crafty Bastards: Arts and Crafts Fair, one of the largest indie craft fairs on the east coast and has served on the Craft Bastard’s jury since 2007. Kelly is also co-founder of Hello Craft a nonprofit trade association dedicated to the advancement of independent crafters and the handmade movement. Kelly resides in Washington, D.C. and believes that handmade will save the world.


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  1. Isn’t it a small world! I posted about this just a week or so ago. It really seems to be catching on as a way to get rid of all those nasty bags without much effort. I’ve found that the fusible plastic can make a very strong fabric.

  2. I’ve been looking up and reading all about fusing plastic bag, such a great idea! The designs and seem endless 🙂

    I already cut up all the bags in my house to crochet a purse.. so it’s too late to fuse them,… or is it??
    What if I crocheted a purse and then ironed it? Would that work?
    I love the idea of a crocheted plastic bag, but I can’t help but wonder how it’d look if it was ironed. I realize that the bags shrink as you iron them so I’d have to make it extra large (if it’d actually work)

    Any advice or information?
    haha, maybe I should just buy myself an iron and try it myself.. and def. test how much it shrinks first 🙂

  3. Not sure how that would come out natalie. Why not make a swatch and try the technique? Just something small. Don’t forget to layer it between paper and try it in a well ventilated area!

    Let us know what happens.

  4. I’m in the middle of a spiffy project using old plastic bags, too. Basically, I’m cutting the bags into 1/4″ strips, tying them together, and braiding the long strips. After they’re braided, I’m croceting them together to make a funky throw rug for my room…

    Best part? Plastic doesn’t trap dirt, and if it ever needs washed, You just rinse it out.

    Tatami, for americans! 😀

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