I do take out my own bags but sometimes I forget and need to pick one up while shopping. Things also come through the post in unwanted plastic and friends give you things in plastic bags so it is hard to get away from it. Thus they accumulate and every time I look at them I am reminded that the planet is being destroyed little by little and our oceans are awash with such items. So – what to do with these pesky plastics that will give them a longer life span and stop them being single use?
Looking through Pinterest is always a good starting point and after exploring the fusing of plastics I decided to try making some wallets. The first stage is preparing the plastics for fusing. The clean bags need to be cut into single pieces and then layered. I used 4 to 6 layers depending on the thickness of the bags and I cut pieces just a little bigger than the size I needed. In the case of a wallet I needed a finished size of 7″ by 11″.
I used large pieces of tracing paper to sandwich the layered pieces (to protect the ironing board and iron). Choose the bags for top and bottom that are the most attractive. I had some interesting ones with grass and flowers or, like the one on the left, some eye-catching detail, Once the pieces are sandwiched, set the iron to a high’ish heat and iron over the sandwich. Keep the iron moving and cover all sections equally. You will start to see the plastic melt and adhere to the tracing paper. When this happens stop ironing, leave to cool and the paper will start to lift. Turn the sandwich over and do the same again. Don’t iron too much or it will all stick to the paper and tear when the paper is removed. Experiment to see what works for you.
PLEASE NOTE: do this in a very well ventilated room (or outside) and with a mask because the fumes are harmful.
Once the pieces are fused you can treat it like fabric. Trim to the required size and zig-zag across the short edges. Fold both short edges over to form the shape of a wallet. On a few of them I shaped the flap part to make an angled flap (for interest or to expose a nice piece of pattern). If you do this make sure you leave enough flap to accommodate the Velcro fastening.
Mark where the Velcro needs to be stitched on and cut 2 pieces to size (male and female). I marked using a Hera marker so it just made an indent to follow. Open up the wallet again and stitch the Velcro in place. Note… make sure you have the right colour thread on the top and bottom of the machine so that it matches the outside as well as blending into the Velcro on the inside).
Fold the bottom flap back up and zig-zag the edges together, taking the stitching up to the top of the flap so all edges are secured.
This is such an easy pattern and can be adapted / used for all sorts of things. I made some bigger ones so that I could give them to my grown-up kids filled with a bar of chocolate and some money. They thought this was a cool idea. You could use them in different sizes for sandwiches, tickets, Kindle or iPad covers. I am sure you can come up with a variety of uses.
Just a note…. some of the bags I used were already made out of recycled plastic. Use the labels about it being made out of recycled plastic, or the other warning messages, as a feature.
I used some scraps of fabric and used string to make gift bags for the Easter wallets to save using wrapping fabrics. These, of course, can be used again and again.
I have a store of old clothes I should have used for such purpose but went for scraps instead. These were well received and appreciated.
If you or your friends have spare plastic bags why not give these a go and see what you can come up with.
Important. Remember to:
- use a well ventilated room and wear a mask to keep the fumes at bay.
- don’t keep the iron on the sandwich for too long or it will melt rather than fuse.
- always sandwich plastic between protective layers such as thick tracing paper to protect your iron.
- let it cool before touching.