Introduction: Make Your Own Plastic Tote Bag From Recycled Plastic Bags
Have you ever wanted to do something with all those plastic bags from the market? Maybe you don't have a recycling center that will take them near you. With a little time and creativity you can make some pretty cool stuff like this big tote bag.
I know that this may not be the first on this subject but maybe I can share some ideas not covered by others.
If you like my effort here please take time to rate it.
Step 1: What You Will Need to Get Started
You will need a ton of bags. I think I counted 30 bags by the time I was done with the tote bag. You will need an iron that can be set to low heat and some scissors, aluminum foil and something hard and flat. I used plywood.
Step 2: Prep the Plastic Bags
I am sure that there may be many ways you can do this but here is the way I have been using.
First I cut the bottoms off the bag.
Next cut the handles from the top of the bags.
I then cut up the side of the bag and open it up.
Next, cut the logos and any other ink from the bag. If you leave the printing on it will be difficult to add color and graphics later that stand out.
Now cut strips from the bag by making vertical cuts every 1.5 to 2 inches apart.
I like to place the different types of colors in separate piles.
*** Although I have yet to try this tip out myself one thing you can do is cut 3in diameter circles instead of strips. It would give the bag a different look altogether. DonÃ¢â¬â¢t be afraid to experiment with new styles!!!
Step 3: Making the Handles
I made my handles with long cuts of plastic by cutting the bags longwise without cutting the ink areas out you can get plastic strips long enough to make strong handles.
First gather six long strips and tie a knot where you would like the handle to start and tie another where you would like the handle to end.
I take a single strip and wrap it around plastic strips starting at one knot and ending at the other knot.
With your iron on low cover the middle handle area between knots with foil and make a couple passes over the foil. Be careful not to touch the unprotected plastic with the iron.
Take a look at your progress if it looks like the layers are fused together flip the handle over and iron the other side.
Step 4: Setup for the Tote Bag
Layout two sheets of foil side by side. If you want to make a bag that is 25" tall by 20" wide you will need 50" lengths of foil by 20" across.
Start laying down your first layer diagonally over lapping the strips as you go. I used brown bags for my first layer because I had an overabundance of them.
Next I lay down my second layer diagonally as well but in the opposite direction then the first layer. For this layer I used all white. I guess I was thinking that a blank canvas starts out this way so I would do that as well. also I did not have a large variety of colors to play around with.
Now that you have two layers laid out you can add the graphics, etc.
Step 5: Personalize Your New Tote Bag
This is the best part.
I wanted to see how a grey strip across the bottom of my bag would look so I put gray plastic strips along the center line. Also I signed my name with a red sharpie on two strips of white plastic to see if artwork drawn on plastic bag parts would turn out and it did.
I also cut graphics from other plastic bags and used them on mine.
Arrange your graphics and colored plastic bag parts on the "canvas"
By the way because shrinkage occurs during the fusing process it is not reliable to use anything that is not able to shrink or bond to the plastic with heat. As you might be able to see I used a dollar bill as a test and it did not turn out the way I had hoped.
I think people in big cities will have the best bags to choose from for colors and graphics so those of us out in BFE will have to draw our own with sharpies.
Step 6: Cover Your Graphics With the Last Layer
You will need to add one more layer of plastic bags to you project to seal in your graphics.
I try to save all the clear or translucent white bags for this step.
Step 7: Fuse the Layers Together
Now we are ready to fuse the layers of plastic bags strips together creating a new purpose for old bags.
Carefully cover the main area of the project with two pieces of foil that match the size of the first two.
You will want the edges to remain unfused so we can join the two sides by fusing later.
Alright lets take that low heat iron and starting at one end move the iron over the foil in a pattern that applies heat to all areas you have the foil over.
As the plastic cools it will shrink a little. the shrinkage will cause bunching but you can fight the bunching by applying pressure with your flat object (plywood in my case) right after the heat is applied. Remember that too much heat is not good as it will create burn thru holes and unless your going for that crispy look you will want to avoid this.
once the top is complete and your graphics are sealed in you should flip your project over and run the iron over the opposite side.
Step 8: Fusing the Handles to the Body of the Tote Bag
At the left and right ends of the bag we will need to add some handles.
I folded the unfused edge over to create a nice straight edge.
Now you will want to place you handle about where you would want it. Make sure when you do the other handle at the other end it lines up with the one you did at this end of the tote.
I tuck the unfused ends of the handle under the unfused ends of the edge and place a foil sheet over the area and fuse the sucker with the iron.
I do the same to the other end.
OKAY! on to the next step!!
Step 9: Fuse the Sides of Your New Tote Bag
Bend the bag in the middle so that the handles meet.
You should have edges that still need to be fused on the sides of your bag.
I found that by using a square of plywood inside the bag area while fusing the sides helped keep the edge straight as I fuse.
Step 10: Done!
Now you should be done. And I hope your bag looks a lot better!!!
I would like to see some of the work others have done with this method so if you have made something by fusing plastic please show us by posting photos in the comments area!
Thanks a ton and please rate my instructable!!