Saturday, November 24, 2007

Fused Plastic Tutorial

It's 20 days and counting till I leave for the craft fair in Chicago. I keep adding things to my list of things to do, and frankly it isn't getting smaller because of it.

Here is the finished project today:

It is a re-purposed plastic messenger bag made of Stew Lenards produce bags. The learning curve on sewing plastic bags is a little steeper than I thought, and this one didn't turn out as *perfectly* as I had hoped. The next 4 should go a little smoother. Here is how I made it in case you are feeling super crafty yourself.

Things you'll need

-Plastic bags- about 20 should do for a 10x14 inch messenger bag.

-Iron set to medium (you will need to adjust the temp depending on your iron)

-Kitchen Parchment Paper

-Your Ironing board or an ironing surface

-An open window-burning plastic is INCREDIBLY TOXIC.

-A simple pattern and notions for a messenger bag (I made mine myself, but if you are new to sewing-buy a simple one)


1. cut apart approx. 20 plastic bags into flat sheets of plastic. Cut off the handles, the fused bottom seam and slice the bag open.

2. layer the bags between 2 sheets of cooking parchment paper so you have at least 8 layers of plastic in all places. -The parchment is important- be sure your iron does not touch the plastic directly- wax paper will leave a waxy residue and the plastic bags may stick to regular paper.

3. Start ironing! It is important to start in the middle, keep the iron moving at all times and not to let the plastic scorch. If you accidentally burn the plastic you will release VERY TOXIC FUMES that are big time bad for you, your pets and especially kids.

It takes about 20 minutes of ironing to get the sheet flat, smooth and even. If you see a lot of air bubbles, you may need to poke a pin hole in the plastic and iron over the area again.

****Note*** the ink used to print on plastic bags releases with heat. Turn bags inside out, or sandwich between clear bags to keep the ink from releasing all over the place and making a huge mess.

4. Once you have one side nice a flat, flip the whole piece (including the parchment) over and iron the other side till the entire piece is flat, smooth and feels like it is one piece of plastic.

5. Allow the piece to cool, peel off the parchment and start cutting. I flat lined (sewed each piece to it's lining individually) and serged my pieces because I want the bags to be nice and strong, you should test it out and decide how you want yours. Turning pieces inside out smoothly is difficult, so you may want to alter your pattern so you don't have to 'flip' any pieces.

6. Sew and finish your bag following the pattern instructions - remember you CAN'T iron the plastic directly- you must sandwich it in parchment paper.

Additional Notes:

- practice with different plastic bag types to find one you like. Do a practice piece to get your pieces fused smoothly and completely and your iron temp correct.

-Make sure you have enough plastic to cut your pattern pieces without having to overlap them and that you have 8 layers of plastic in the areas you are cutting. Less layers and you will have a weak spot in your bag.

-Plastic has NO grain, so you don't have to worry about grain lines on the plastic, but you should follow them on your fabric lining.

-Pencils don't mark on plastic so use a ball point pen for your markings.

-Send me a picture of your bag.


Jody said...

I would really like to try this out since plastic bags aren't nearly endangered enough. I also really like bags. The re-purposed sweater/wool handbags are really cute too. You're so crafty!

Cindy said...

Have you ever tried to fuse anything between the plastic bags like lace or fabric?

Katie Crafts said...


Yes I have tried it, and it wasn't very sucessful.

Good Luck!

Hurrayic said...

Just found this via craftastica via whip-up. I've been meaning to try this - it looks great. We miss Stew Leonards!

Rebecca said...

Katie! I finally remembered to look up your site, can't wait to try it out!

Kaitlynn said...

I have tried this numerous times but I can never seem to get it to iron out flat. I always get wrinkles and creases even if i'm just ironing in one direction.

Any tips?