Single use plastic bags still make their way into my house despite the fact that I carry a reusable bag with me and have several in my car. So I’m always looking for ways to upcycle these plastic bags into something more functional.
Fusing layers of thin plastic bags creates a stronger material that can be cut and sewn.
Note that different types of bags are made out of different plastics and have different melting points. Just be sure to fuse the same types of plastics together so that you get a smooth even material.
Here’s how to make a small zippered bag, but use the same technique to sew a larger tote or anything else suited to this method of fusing.
Scissors or rotary cutter
Sewing machine or needle and thread
1. First cut off any bulky seams and handles so that you have a flat sheet or tube of plastic.
2. Layer two to eight pieces of plastic between sheets of parchment paper. Thicker bags, like the bag your newspaper is delivered in or bread bags, need fewer layers than a thinner grocery bag.
This is also your opportunity to play around with colors and design. Use the images or text already on the bags and cut out your own design to create a unique pattern.
3. Use an iron on the lowest setting to fuse the plastic evenly on both sides. You will notice some shrinking and even a little wrinkling as the plastic heats and melts together.
4. Use a rotary cutter or scissors to cut out two rectangles. One side will be the same length as your zipper.
5. Pin the zipper (right sides together) to the top edge of each rectangle and use a small zig-zag stitch to sew it on.
6. Open the zipper half way so you have a hole to turn the finished piece right side out, and keeping right sides together, sew the last three sides with a zig-zag stitch.
7. Turn the bag right side out and you have a zippered bag.
Katie Patterson Larson is the director and founder of Art Salvage, Spokane’s creative reuse center. Art Salvage keeps usable materials out of the waste stream and makes them accessible and affordable to everyone. Visit the Art Salvage store for more upcycled inspiration and to find gently used and new creative materials. For more information, visit www.artsalvagespokane.com. Contact Patterson Larson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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