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Topic: TUTORIAL: MAKE SEWABLE FABRIC FROM PLASTIC BAGS  (Read 148673 times)
Tags for this thread: tutorial , plastic_bag , recycle , recycled , fused_plastic , craftster_best_of_2007  Add new tag
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jamiewatchthestars
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« on: June 22, 2007 01:08:44 PM »

you can make fabric from plastic bags!  

You will need:
-an iron
-a place to iron (i.e. an ironing board)
-2-4 large pieces of cardstock or posterboard
-a cutting device (i STRONGLY recommend craft knife or rotary cutter, but scissors will suffice)

Step 1: Collect a whole lot of plastic bags.  (Grocery bags, dry cleaning bags, etc.)
http://photos-289.ll.facebook.com/photos-ll-sf2p/v82/190/40/1461540289/n1461540289_30049813_1579.jpg

Step 2: Straighten and smooth each bag.
http://photos-289.ll.facebook.com/photos-ll-sf2p/v82/190/40/1461540289/n1461540289_30049814_7979.jpg

http://photos-289.ll.facebook.com/photos-ll-sf2p/v82/190/40/1461540289/n1461540289_30049818_2753.jpg

Step 3: Prepare the bag.  Cut off the base and handles.
http://photos-289.ll.facebook.com/photos-ll-sf2p/v82/190/40/1461540289/n1461540289_30049820_3221.jpg

http://photos-289.ll.facebook.com/photos-ll-sf2p/v82/190/40/1461540289/n1461540289_30049821_3453.jpg

http://photos-289.ll.facebook.com/photos-ll-sf2p/v82/190/40/1461540289/n1461540289_30049815_2050.jpg

Step 4: Open the bag up.  Cut up the side of the bag with a scissor.
http://hs.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=30049816&id=1461540289

Step 5: Smooth
http://photos-289.ll.facebook.com/photos-ll-sf2p/v82/190/40/1461540289/n1461540289_30049817_2522.jpg

Now you are ready to actually create the "fabric."  The fabric will feel somethign like tyvek, which is traditionally used to wrap houses, but more recently used in jackets (american apparel has one).  It is very lightweight and durable.

Step 6: Get out your ironing board (or other ironing surface.)  Lay down your cardstock, and then 5-8 plastic bags on top of each other.  More bags will make a thicker fabric, but also take longer to iron.  I used 6 bags.
http://photos-289.ll.facebook.com/photos-ll-sf2p/v82/190/40/1461540289/n1461540289_30049824_4154.jpg

Step 7:  Turn on your iron.  I used the setting for cotton blends.  The rayon setting works well too.  

Step 8:  Line up the pieces and iron them together.  Be sure to put a piece of cardstock on top of the stack.  If you do not, the plastic will melt directly on your iron and you will RUIN YOUR IRON.  Go back and forth, pressing firmly down on the iron.  
http://photos-289.ll.facebook.com/photos-ll-sf2p/v82/190/40/1461540289/n1461540289_30049825_4388.jpg

Do not remove the top piece of cardstock until it has cooled.  Not only will you burn yourself, but you will create holes in your fabric.  Also, resist the urge to turn the heat on your iron up higher.  It will not speed up the process, it will melt the plastic and create holes such as these as well.  
http://photos-289.ll.facebook.com/photos-ll-sf2p/v82/190/40/1461540289/n1461540289_30049827_4845.jpg

Step 9:  Take a look at your fabric.  Has it all fused together?  If so, you are ready to sew with it!  If the fabric still has parts that feel like plastic bag (below), continue to iron using the above method until it has fused.
http://photos-289.ll.facebook.com/photos-ll-sf2p/v82/190/40/1461540289/n1461540289_30049828_5083.jpg

Step 10: Enjoy your fabric!
http://photos-289.ll.facebook.com/photos-ll-sf2p/v82/190/40/1461540289/n1461540289_30049831_5799.jpg

Try different color combinations.  I figured out that it works best if you use all one color, or a color with white.  Brown tends to make colors murky, so try to use brown alone, unless you want that murky look intentionally.  Clear dry cleaning bags will create a see through fabric.

You can run the finished fabric though your sewing machine.  I suggest that you try a sample piece before beginning a project.  I didn't need to adjust my tension, you might need to, depending on your machine.
http://photos-289.ll.facebook.com/photos-ll-sf2p/v82/190/40/1461540289/n1461540289_30049833_6273.jpg

The "fabric" can be attached easily with hot glue.  The glue will melt and bond the bags very firmly.  Once you have fused the bags into fabric, you can cut it easily with a scissor.

Here is what I did with the fabric:

http://www.craftster.org/forum/index.php?topic=178445.new#new


it can also be used as a cheap, environmentally friendly heavyweight interfacing for bags, camera cases, etc.

No, it does not sound like a plastic bag when you wrinkle it up.
« Last Edit: June 14, 2011 05:20:39 PM by jungrrl - Reason: changed non-working images to links. » THIS ROCKS   Logged

Fun4Bambi
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« Reply #1 on: June 22, 2007 01:22:34 PM »

Crazy! Cool! Crazy-Cool!!
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CheyElizabeth
« Reply #2 on: June 22, 2007 01:53:31 PM »

I love this! But when you say cardstock or posterboard.. where did you get yours? I think regular posterboard would be too thick?
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jamiewatchthestars
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« Reply #3 on: June 22, 2007 02:49:41 PM »

i used scrapbooking cardstock, which is like the weight of oak tag, if you know what i mean by that?
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minouette
« Reply #4 on: June 22, 2007 03:08:27 PM »

 Grin

Fabulous re-purposing/re-using of a material. I saw a picture of a quilt made from coffee sleeves and I think one could make a quilt from plastic bags in this way. You could use it for a picnic blanket, because it would be water-proof.
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Sansa
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« Reply #5 on: June 22, 2007 03:55:20 PM »

I read the Handmade pattern which is similar and would like to add the folowing tips (not yet attempted by me).

1. They didn't actually sew their bag, they cut flaps and ironed them onto the bag, fusing them the same way as you made the pattern. I don't know how strong these seams would be but if your sewing machine was in the shop, it could be worth a try.

2. To make a larger piece of fabric, they set out the bags in a sort of woven pattern which let them make it as large as wanted, not just the size of the bag. I hope that makes sense. Thinking of an example...like popsicle stick houses, offset every other one.
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jamiewatchthestars
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« Reply #6 on: June 22, 2007 04:21:59 PM »

1. They didn't actually sew their bag, they cut flaps and ironed them onto the bag, fusing them the same way as you made the pattern. I don't know how strong these seams would be but if your sewing machine was in the shop, it could be worth a try.

i tried this as well.  in theory, its a fantastic idea.  in real life, when you go to iron the seams, the amount of heat that you need to iron through a thick piece of fabric made mine bubble and get holes in it.

im sure it would work if you did it for a long time on a lower heat, i just don't have the patience.  i have been sewing my seams and then ironing over them to "seal" it.

2. To make a larger piece of fabric, they set out the bags in a sort of woven pattern which let them make it as large as wanted, not just the size of the bag. I hope that makes sense. Thinking of an example...like popsicle stick houses, offset every other one.


wow good idea.  if i ever get around to doing this again i'll try that.  i ended up just ironing all of the big bag sized pieces together into one ginormous fabric.
« Last Edit: June 22, 2007 04:22:42 PM by jamiewatchthestars » THIS ROCKS   Logged

aphie
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« Reply #7 on: June 22, 2007 04:56:31 PM »

Ahahah!
I am so impressed with this idea! Thankyou so much for the tutorial, I'm already thinking of ways I could use the plastic bag fabric. Smiley
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BlackOctopi
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« Reply #8 on: June 22, 2007 05:21:15 PM »

This is great. I have a huge bag of plastic bags that I had no idea what to do with! I am totally going to use this thanks!
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Lizzle
« Reply #9 on: June 22, 2007 05:45:15 PM »

SUCH a good idea.  Great way to reuse--beats taking them to the grocery store to be recycled, in my opinion.
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