Fusing plastic bags to make a recycled 'fabric' tote

My little recycled tote bag made from Walmart bags and 1 Captain D's bag that I cut the 'wave' image from

Back around 2004, recycling juice containers like Capri-Sun into tote bags was the fad.  By 2009 everyone was reusing the thin plastic bags you get at stores like your grocery store, Walmart, Target, etc. When everyone in the blog world seemed to be doing this little recycle craft, I wasn't.  I was swamped at the time with work, kids and more.  I had to put this idea in my back pocket for another day.  Life happens though, and here we are 3 1/2 years later.  I decided it was time to just do it.  

The inside of my little tote bag

You can find many versions of instructions online for how to fuse plastic bags together - but what is interesting is that some will say to use a low setting on your iron while someone else swears by the higher settings.  Some will tell you do not use any steam setting while someone else will only use their steam setting.  Most say there are fumes and a smell when doing this craft.  I can tell you there was none when I did it.  Lots of variables, huh?

Use between 3-5 bags per piece of 'fabric'
An iron
Parchment paper or regular paper to cover the plastic so it doesn't melt to your iron

Cut the seams and the handles off your plastic bags so you have a large rectangle.  You can cut the logo's and images out as well if you don't want to use them, or if you want to add them later as the top design like I did with the wave.  Open the bags and lay flat.

Layer at least 3 or more bags on top of each other, between two pieces of paper or parchment.  Heat your iron to a medium setting.  I started with a 2/3 on the dial, tried a 4/5 and up to the 6/7 but liked the 3/4 heat (medium) best.  I did not use the steam setting although some crafters do.

Iron on top of the paper about 15 seconds, always keeping the iron moving or the plastic inside the papers will melt.  Move to another area and continue.  When you feel like you have done the whole piece, pull the paper back and check.  If there is a loose area that is not fused, re-iron that part.  When it's all fused together, flip the whole thing over and do the same to the other side.

The plastic shrinks a bit so keep that in mind when deciding your finished project.  You can fuse 2 or more pieces together to make larger pieces by overlapping them, covering with paper and ironing them together.

Continue with more bags and more pieces of 'fabric' until you have enough to make whatever project you wish.  I chose a small tote bag and used white plastic Walmart bags and cut off the ink logo design so only the white parts were used.  For the top layer, I cut the wave off a Captain D's food bag and turned it ink side in (so it didn't melt or smear) and ironed over it just enough to fuse it to the top layer.

Trim the ragged sides to make straight.  You can use your iron to 'sew' the seams.  I made a tote so I laid the 2 fabric pieces on top of each other, right sides out.  I placed paper inside where I didn't want the iron to fuse the plastic together and then ironed 3 sides (left, bottom and right) leaving the top open.  For handles I grabbed some of the excess seams and logo's I had cut off, rolled them up and then ironed them to flatten and fuse.  I then fused them to the inside of the tote, again placing paper inside to keep the tote from fusing together.

In the end, I was glad I tried this project and it was fun but I probably won't make many more of these.  I actually like the Capri Sun juice bags better.   I think this one turned out adorable and exactly what I was hoping for as I just wanted a little tote to carry on the beach.

You might also be interested in:

Black &Decker Auto-Off Digital Advantage Iron
Bag Wizard Women Tote bags Handbags Beach Bags (Jacquard Black)
Getagadget Huge See-Thru Mesh Beach Tote Bag One Size Royal

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