Are you overrun with plastic grocery bags? I sure am. My cabinets are overflowing with them! I use them for trash and recycle them whenever I can find a place that will take them but still — they still seem to multiply.
So what else can you do with them?
Fuse the plastic bags together to make fabric! Back in the spring, I showed you how to use up the paper grocery bags, now it’s plastic’s turn…
In this post, I’ll show you how to fuse plastic bags to make fabric for crafts — plus how to add a beautiful marble effect.
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How to Fuse Plastic Bags
To fuse plastic bags, you simply cut the handles off of six bags and stack them (for 12 layers total). Then, sandwich the stack between two large sheets of parchment paper and run an iron over each side for 10 – 20 seconds.
Step 1: Prep your bags
To begin, we’re going to grab 6 bags and cut them to size. Ideally, you’ll have bags with a white background, but any color works. You’ll just end up with a different look.
Cut the handles and the bottom of the plastic bags off and open up the seams. You’ll be left with 12 sheets of plastic, roughly in the shape of rectangles.
Place a sheet of parchment paper on an ironing board or heat-friendly surface and stack 9 of the plastic sheets on top and set aside the other 3.
Note: use parchment paper NOT wax paper. These aren’t the same thing!!!
Step 2: Grate some crayons (optional)
You can simply make basic fused plastic but I love how it looks when you add some color! Choose two to three old crayons in colors that will work well swirled together and grate them on a kitchen zester or the fine side of a grater (don’t worry, it cleans up beautifully with soap and water).
For this project, I used blue, grey, and white for a fresh palette.
Why white when the bags are already white? Because the white mixes with the blue and grey to create lots of different lighter tones! The same principle applies to any colors you choose.
Once you’ve grated up your crayons, sprinkle them in thick swirled bands onto your stack of plastic sheets. Don’t worry about perfection. They’ll melt and swirl into beautiful patterns no matter what.
Be sure to go easy on the amount of wax you use. Keep in mind that the wax will spread, so less is more.
Place the last 3 sheets of plastic on top of the grated wax and top the whole pile with another sheet of parchment paper.
Step 3: Use an iron to seal the plastic
Next, preheat your iron to the polyester setting. This will make the iron hot enough to fuse the plastic bags but cool enough not to obliterate the entire thing.
Run your iron over the top sheet of parchment paper, moving constantly. Be sure to never allow your iron to touch the plastic directly! Move it around for 10 – 20 seconds, flip the whole thing over, iron the other side, then check the plastic for “doneness.”
Your plastic is ready when it’s one solid, flexible sheet. If the layers aren’t completely fused, just repeat the ironing step until they are.
Be sure not to iron for TOO long, otherwise, your fused plastic fabric will become brittle.
Step 4: Use your fused plastic fabric for crafting!
You’re already done! You can use this fused plastic fabric for a lot of different crafts. I’m always looking for ways to make free upcycled projects like this fluted vase I made out of a gelato cup.
With fused plastic bags, I’ve seen people make wallets, reusable shopping bags, garden markers, and coasters out of this stuff (you know I love a good coaster), but really you can use it for anything you can think up!
I used mine to wrap an old tin can I saved from the recycling bin to make a pencil holder:
I made another sheet in a different color palette, cut it into strips, wove them together to create a basket-weave (reseal the weave with another swipe of the iron), and glued a bobby pin to the back to make hair clips for my kids:
There you have it! How to make fused plastic fabric for crafts. I hope you enjoyed this project and learned something useful in the process.