Reusing Plastic Bags – Experimenting With Different Bags

So, I finally got around to trying the below plastic bag tutorial from Etsy.

I was hoping to create something to use for the window in badge holders I crocheted for the upcoming Sci-Fi/Fantasy convention, but, alas, it didn’t work out. However, I did make fabric out of a variety of plastic bags, and thought it’d be a good idea to write up the results for others who’d like to give it a shot.

So, I got a few nearly perfect sheets, but most of them didn’t turn out that spectacularly. Either I held the iron in one spot for too long, or I couldn’t smooth the bags out enough, or I got a little too high off of fumes because although I had windows open, I hadn’t thought to grab a fan.

It might be a combination of all of those.

Guess I could call this unintentional art or something.

Also, in case you’re wondering what will happen if you don’t turn your bags inside out, take a look at what happened to the paper I used. I didn’t make much of a mess, but I can see how that could easily happen if you’re not careful.

Anyway, on to the bags.

The first bag I tried this on was this wrinkled up grocery bag from our local Cub store. It’s a typical grocery bag, and a little bit thicker than some of the others I tried. Since it was so crunched up from the start, I had a very hard time smoothing it out before starting to iron, so I ended up with that textured, bubbly look. This is a good example of what she means about needing to practice a lot.

Next up was this thin, clear bag from someplace we probably haven’t been to in ages. I decided to see what would happen if I just ironed it as two layers instead of the eight. The result was a very thin, slightly opaque piece of fused plastic. The smaller piece in my hand is what it looks like in 8 ply instead of 2. This one was actually extremely easy to do. There were very few, if any, air bubbles in the final product.

I rather like how this one turned out. This is another thin bag, probably from a thrift or antique store. The way I screwed this one up was that I ended up letting the iron sit too long in some places. However, I really like the end parchment like color.

Next up is a shopping bag from Harbor Freight. It also had a nice, light consistency which was very easy to work with. Since I’ve been toying with the idea of making some sort of laminated bookmark or something with inlays, I figured I’d see what it would look like if I tucked a bit of paper under the first layer. It’s something else to experiment with, anyway.
The thickest bag I tried was from Khol’s. Again, I ran into the same problem as with the Cub bag, but it is possible to use these types of bags with enough practice. I also found out that it’s possible to cause tiny little holes in the final bag by concentrating the heat in one place for too long. You can see the light shining through them in the third picture.
Finally, I figured I’d try this trick on the left over insulating plastic from our windows and an old poncho with a huge tear in it. I was hoping that I could make the material for windows in the badge holders from these.
As evidenced in the pictures, that wasn’t meant to be.
In retrospect, I should have expected the window plastic to crinkle up the way it did as soon as it came in touch with heat. Actually, I got a kick out of how it contracted into its bubble wrap-type consistency.
However, the plastic poncho surprised me at how quickly it simply disintegrated.
All in all, it’s not a bad technique, but next time, I’ll do all of the following:
  • Set up a fan beforehand.
  • TURN ON said fan.
  • Make sure the bags are all relatively wrinkle free.
  • Keep ye olde iron on the move.

If anyone else has had better luck with this technique, feel free to link me to pictures of your creations. I’d love to see what you’ve put together!

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