Friday, June 21, 2013

Fusing Plastic Bags into a Sewable Material

This week has been a busy one for our family with camping and swimming lessons, but I did manage to finish a couple of projects. 

Have you ever tried to fuse a plastic grocery bag?  Well, I had not, but I can now say that I have.  It is pretty easy and I had some pretty neat results in one of my trials.

The goal?  To have an end product that would be suitable for sewing.  I did accomplish this goal and was able to make a bag, YES A BAG, from my plastic grocery bags.  Here is the first step in the process.

Parchment Paper
Plastic Bags
Other materials to add between plastic layers for an added effect
   -I used confetti stars and gift tinsel (I guess that is what it is called?)

Step 1:  Cut the handles and bottoms off the bag to make a nice rectangle.  I cut as big of pieces as I could from lots of white bags.  I did not use the side with the writing, at first.

Step 2: Set up your ironing board and iron.  The iron needs to be on a very low setting.  I had read that you should not go higher than the nylon/rayon settting.  Finding the right setting seemed to be the trickiest party.  If it's too low, it does not heat the bags enough.  If it's too high, it melts it too fast and will crinkle badly and may even leave holes.   I don't know if mine looks 'correct'.  I really don't care about what is correct, most of the time.  I care about what looks good.

Step 3: Lay out a large section of parchment paper first, then take 4-6 pieces of your cut plastic.  I have read that 4, 6, and 8 were the best.  I used 6 for my first two tries and then for my last, and favorite piece, I only used 2.    After you have your desired number of plastic sheets down, you want to top it all off with another sheet of parchment.  Make sure your parchment sheets are bigger than your plastic pieces.  The goal is to NOT let the iron touch the plastic, of course.

Here is my first try at fusing plastic.  In this picture I have down 5 sheets of plastic and then I sprinkled in some pink confetti stars under the top layer of plastic.

Lay the parchment on top and then begin to move the iron over your piece.  I used a figure eight motion to move over the parchment and then sometimes I just slowly went up and down, trying to hit every spot.  I kept wanting to crank up the heat b/c it just seemed like it was taking too long.

Here it is after a few minutes, maybe longer.

I kept going until it looked like this.  I think it looks pretty interesting.  At this point the plastic is fused and can be treated like a piece of fabric.  I will sew on it and try to make something cute.  I'll add a link up here when the project is completed.

Here is another attempt.  With this one I used some of that stringy material you can add to gift boxes for decorations.  (I know, so helpful.)  I also added some cut up pieces of this other material I had lying around.  Honestly, I do not know what it is either.  I purchased it for my jewelry making.  It's similar to the confetti.  Anyway, with this one I layered the materials between all my layers of plastic.  You can see that there is some depth to this project.  I don't know that I like this so much, but it's worth exploring.

For this one, I used white and yellow plastic bags.  The yellow plastic is from a Dollar General bag.  Do you see that hole at the top?  That is where I must have heated it a little too long.  I like the way the yellow and white blend together on the sides.  Overall, I think this piece is a failure.  I could not get an even fusing.

Okay, this one is by far my favorite, and the one I decided to make a bag out of when I was finished.  Since the 4th of July is coming up and it seems like EVERYONE is making something red, white and blue, I thought I would join in the fun.

I found a pretty blue Children's Place bag and then picked out any white bag that had red white and blue.  Mosers, Wal-Mart and Wal-Greens were the winners. :)  I did not want the words to be readable, so I tried my best to cut pretty thin strips of all the bags.  I then arranged them in a red/blue pattern on top of my solid blue bag.  Then, I started ironing.

Right away I could tell that I was going to like this one.  However, it took FOREVER to fuse my strips to the base sheet of plastic.  I finally started to just hold the iron in one place for a few seconds in spots where it did not seem the fusing was happening.  Maybe I'm doing something wrong???  If any of you have done this, please let me know and give me some tips! :)  I just need to do some more research.

How to Fuse Plastic Bags to Make a Sewable Fabric

This is what it finally looked like.  I like it A LOT!

So, that is it.  On my next post I will show you what I made with the red-white-blue 'plastic' fabric!

You can see it HERE after I link it up.

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Monday 6/24/13
Mad in Crafts-tutorial only

Tuesday 6/25
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