I'm going into my junior year of high school, and I know I'll need a strong bag because of all the AP classes I have to take. Last year I went through like ten bags, and I just had honors and one AP class, so I decided to save some money (and the earth) by making my own! I decided to use fused plastic, because it's pretty strong and waterproof, and if it were to rip, I could easily fix it with some new bags and my iron.
So, after a bit of collecting, I came up with this:
That's my cat Claws, by the way. He loves posin for pictures, and always seems to know when I'm about to take some...
I made the Earth thingy with a Barnes and Noble bag, a Nordstrom Rack bag, and some scraps from the Target bags, just in case you wanted to know where I got the colors. If you do something like this, though, I recommend putting a layer of clear plastic bag over it, so it holds the shape better. Try dry cleaning bags, they work pretty well.
There's the inside, obviously. I have a lot of little things, so I added a pencil pocket and a bigger pocket for erasers and lead refills and whatnot.
That's just some of the stuff I had to lug around last year. I figured that if I can go to my locker every other passing period, I should be fine...I hope. Half of all of that is science stuff. I'm taking two science classes next year. ^_^
And finally, the action shot. Sorry about the mirror pic, but it's all I had to work with. Anyway, I'm pretty pleased with the overall look of it, though I might fill in the gap between the handles. I don't know if I like that anymore.But you know, it holds a lot of weight, the handles are a good length for me, and it's eco-friendly. What more could I need?
And just because I know there are a few people out there looking to make an eco-friendly school bag, I've attempted a tutorial. I made this bag a while ago, and I don't have any in the making of pics, so...if you have any problems, let me know and I'll see what I can do!
For the basic bag:
12 shopping bags with the handles and bottom strip cut off (I like the target ones because they are the strongest)
Iron with rayon setting and ironing board
old scissors (DON'T use your nice fabric ones!!!!)
and everything else you needfor sewing (thread, pins...)
Start off by opening up your prepared bags as much as possible. Cover your ironing board (all of the surface) with parchment paper. Layer four of your bags evenly on the paper, and cover them with another sheet. This protects your iron and ironing board from melted plastic.
Open up a window, turn on a fan, whatever you need to do to ventilate your workspace. Working outside is good, too.
With your iron on rayon setting (a little more at a high altitude, like Colorado), start ironing the plastic in smooth, even motions. Make sure you iron the whole piece equally.
After awhile, your plastic bags will melt into a sheet. Check this sheet for "bubbles" or air pockets. If you find any, iron over them until they are gone.
Remove the parchment paper, and cool.
Repeat twice, each time using four bags. Two will become the actual bag. Set those aside.
From the third sheet, cut two equally sized rectangles. Mine were about two inches wide and twenty inches long, but you can adjust the length to suit your needs. Also cut a pocket. Mine's about five inches wide, four inches long. If you like, you can also cut a pencil pocket. Make it the same length as the pocket, but about an inch or so in width.
Pin the pocket(s) on the inside of the back panel, somewhat close to the top. It all has to do with your preference when placing the pockets, bu I like mine closer to the top of the bag. A good place is about five inches down from the top.
Sew into place.
Now, placing "right sides" of the two main pieces facing each other, pin together. This can be a bit tricky, because there's no guarantee that the panels are the same size. Just pin so that you have enough room to sew both bags together the entire way around. Sew, leaving the top and bottom sides open. Don't forget to make sure the pocket is open to the top of the bag!
Make it so the right sides of the bag are facing out. Now, making sure the seams are in the center still, push in until you can pinch the bottom tip and unfold the sides to the size you need them to be. Sew along the bottom, making sure to sew the fold into the bottom seam. Now, your bag should resemble that of a plastic target bag.
To give more definition to the sides of the bag, where the side seam meets the bottom, sew a straight line the width you want the sides to be using the zig zag stitch. It should be equal on both sides of the side/bottom seams. Do that to both sides. I know it's a little confusing, but when it's done, it should give your bag a more defined shape, and make it easier to fill with books.
Now the body of the bag is done, so all you have to add are the straps. I'd sa mine are about four inches apart, but it's totally up to you. Once I sewed them on, I went back and Ironed on a patch of plastic to the inside part of he stitching for extra strength, but you don't have to.
And that's it! You can add decoration if you like. I actually ironed parts of colorful bags to the panels when I was making them, but you could very easily add pins or buttons after the bag is done. I've seen people embroider on used plastic for a really cool effect, but the bag will look cool and be earth-friendly no matter what you add to it.
So there it is! I hope it helped. I might just have to make a second one and add pictures, but for now, I hope this works. It is, after all, my fist tutorial, so any constructive criticism is totally welcome.