This tutorial is dedicated to an Instagram pal of mine-MiilyJade who asked if I had a tutorial on "How to fuse plastic bags"...it dawned on me after making almost 95 fused plastic business card carriers last year for Artfest that I never shared a "how to" tutorial ...So here we go!
Your end product will result in your level of creativity, meaning anything is possible! I was making these creations for Artfest trades and because I made so many of them I knew I wanted something small sized.
Your supply list:
- Lots of plastic bags! the more colors the better!
- An Iron (on dry setting)
- 2 large pieces of card stock paper or parchment paper
- a hard flat surface- an ironing board works just fine
- A well ventilated room! and it doesn't hurt to wear a mask/ventilator you are melting plastic after all. Let me just tell you about the headache I got fusing scented diaper genie bags! Unused of course! I couldn't resist the awesome mint green color, but man they were stinky to fuse!
- sewing machine-optional, it all depends on what you want to make with your fused plastic!
Your first step will be prepping your plastic bags. Start by cutting the handles off the top and the seam off the bottom, making your shopping bag a large rectangular piece of thin plastic. Then fold your bag into layers of 3. You can get creative here and layer/co-mingle different color bags but only two or three layers at a time. After you have you layers lined up sandwich them between a large piece of parchment or card stock paper, on the top and the bottom- this is to protect your iron!! If you don't have your plastic completely covered you will ruin your iron! Melting plastic all over it ending up with a hot mess...trust me!
Experiment as you go...really there is no "right way" to do this just keep in mind what it is your making and the ideal thickness you need it to be for durability etc. I knew I was going to sew on my fused plastic sheets so I couldn't make my fused sheets too thick, cause after I folded them to wallets, my machine would never get through all the layers.
If you use grommets or a more industrial method of fastening you can make your fused plastic sheets as thick as you'd like and to do this you would just add 2 to 3 layers at a time (4 if the bag is very thin to begin with) Above you can see I mixed and matched colors. Pretty much any fused bag combo I made and cut down to size I'd keep every remnant scrap I cut and then fuse these strips together to create funky patterns. I even painted some of the bags after fusing only a couple layers together with acrylic paints and paint pens, then I I'd seal the painting by fusing a clear plastic shopping bag over the top.** Tip in doing this: Kick your iron setting down a notch making it cooler- for some reason clear bags melt much faster than colored bags! If you're iron is too hot the bags just shrivel up too wrinkly to appreciate your efforts.
To make these little wallets I made fused sheets of plastic approximately 5" by 10" and then folded them sewing a square of velcro on each end before I sewed up the sides.
I zig zagged stitched my edges only because I liked the way it looked. You definitely don't have to finish the edges like this, it's not going to fray like fabric would.
I also played around with different ways to fasten my wallet creations. Above I used a hammered flat beer bottle cap and drilled 2 small holes into it with my dremmel and then attached a strand of embroidery thread and some beads to circle around the beer cap.
Once I got the hang of the iron settings and how many layers I could iron at once the fun really began! All the sudden I was collecting plastic bags everywhere I went, I put a call out to all the moms at Arlin's preschool. I even went to the local dollar store and bought some bright colored vinyl table cloths, butterfly printed birthday cello bags, I even ironed easter basket grass in between layers! I also used my sewing machine to add different color thread stitching details emphasizing some of the fused plastic patterns.
Here's my bucket list to make with fused plastic: roll up paint brush carrier, journal cover, i-pad pouch, make-up tote, pencil pouch
Hope this tutorial gets your creative juices flowing!