This tutorial on fusing plastic bags was originally published on the now-retired Etsy Labs blog in May of 2007. Due to popular demand, we are reposting it in The Storque. Enjoy!
I realized this afternoon that I basically explain this technique to an Etsy Labs visitor at least once a day, but had never put the instructions online. So, here it is. Fusing! Plastic! Bags!
Do you have one zillion plastic drugstore and grocery bags under your sink, or perhaps smushed into a drawer? Ever wanted a cheap and easy use for them? One that leaves you with an intriguing and useful homemade craft supply? Do you have an iron? Why don’t you fuse them together?
What you’ll need
Plastic bags (thin, flimsy ones work best)
Parchment paper, freezer paper or plain old copier paper
Iron (and your favorite ironing surface)
Please do this in a well-ventilated area.
Flatten out the bag and trim the bottom seam and handles off. This allows the bag to be opened up into a larger rectangle of plastic.
Turn the bag inside-out if it has printing on it. Once the ink heats up, it comes off the bag and makes a huge mess. If the bag has an interesting design that you’d like to preserve, try using a clear plastic bag layered on top of the printed one.
We find that between 6-8 layers of plastic gives the best results. So, you can either fold your bag twice until it is 8 ply thick, or use three or more bags layered on top of one another. Trying to fuse less than 6 layers often results in little holes forming in the finished piece and a generally weaker material.
Sandwich your plastic bags between the parchment paper
Next, run a hot iron (we set ours to "rayon," but you will need to experiment a little to see what works for you) and keep the iron moving constantly. Make sure to get the edges, and after about 15 seconds, flip it over and iron the opposite side for a few seconds.
Peel a corner of the paper back to see if the plastic is fused together. It should be fairly smooth and "one sheet" to the touch (watch out, its a little hot). If the layers are not all melted together, iron it some more.
Peel the parchment paper away from the finished plastic sheet. Voila! Now, you can use this stuff to make a million things. We’ve made re-usable grocery totes, wallets, and floor cushions; I think its an inexpensive way to make waterproof linings for beach bags and make-up clutches.
Fused plastic makes fun and easy-to-clean bibs! Download this pattern and cut out two pieces (one from the plastic and another from a pretty cotton fabric), pin together with 1/4" bias tape (you’ll need about 48") and run a zip-zag stitch around the edges with your sewing machine.