Introduction: Plastic Bag Fabric!

Picture of Plastic Bag Fabric!

In this tutorial I will show you how to create a kind of fabric from a plastic bag. Disclaimer:this is not my idea this was originally on make podcasts.

Step 1: Parts List

Picture of Parts List

To make your fabric you will need: A plastic bag (of course), an iron ( the ones you do laundry with), wax paper, and an ironing board. (Lovely assistant optional) May I remind you wear proper respiratory protection and use a well venelated area. This may do the same harm as spray painting, breating in or sniffing a sharpie.

Step 2: Cutting

Picture of Cutting

1. First cut the handles off your plastic bag like so.

Then cut the bottom off your bag with scissors, my lovely assistant points to the spot.

Step 3: Folding

Picture of Folding

2. Cut one side and lay the bag out flat, it should look like the pictures. Then keep folding until you want to stop.
I stopped at three folds, making an 8 ply layer. Se that in the images.
Fold the bag in half with the ink inside (This is important!, if you don't the ink will make a mess later on.)
Place wax paper on the top and the bottom and you're ready to go!

Step 4: Making It

Picture of Making It

4.Set iron to dry iron and at a temp. above polyester and below rayon. (In my case it was level 3).

Then place iron on the wax paper but keep it moving, if you just leave it in one place it will burn through the plastic.
Keep heating the plastic until you think its done. Check it, if it crinckles then heat that area.But if it dosent, it should peel nicely off the wax paper.

Step 5: Finish

Picture of Finish

Good job you have made a durable plastic fabric (hee hee it rhymes!) This technique also works for trash bags.

Holes: holes appear if you stay in one place to long. It burns right through the plastic.

If you want to see the original idea
click here:
Make: Podcast

Please leave comments on this instructable, its my first and I want to know how to make it better.

Thanks for viewing!


CoralL (author)2014-09-30

Is there any smell when you melt the plastic? Even not noticeable, can anyone with Chemistry background tell if this process is not harmful to health?

ratgirl13 (author)2013-11-30

This is fantastic! Just finished making some. Going to save up more bags so I can make a tote bag. Checked out your profile, see you are from Kingman. I live in Golden Valley! Hope you made it through high school!
Thanks for the great 'ible

kirnex (author)2013-01-25

I love your assistant! That totally made my day. I think you should make him/her some clothes, though. Maybe a recycled plastic raincoat.

gingerandtu (author)2009-05-04

so I have been researching food safe plastics. I found that most shopping bags are made from #2 HDPE plastic, which is FDA approved food safe. Do we think it is safe to use these fused bags for food storage?? Anyone??? Thanks!

kirnex (author)gingerandtu2013-01-25

Thanks for that info! I wonder if using those green produce bags you get at the store might be great for this. I'm thinking of making a silverware liner for my silver chest. I wonder if it will keep it from tarnishing as quickly. Also, what a fab idea for a liner for a potato (and other root vegetables) bin. I bet using the green bags will help them keep longer. See what your comment has inspired?

Lego man (author)gingerandtu2009-05-22

.Yeah I'm pretty sure. It doesn't change the molecular structure (thats what i was told) so it should be as safe as using a new plastic bag.

(seabear) (author)2010-01-12

can the fabric be dyed?

kirnex (author)(seabear)2013-01-25's plastic. But it can be colored with a sharpie or other solvent-based marker prior. The heat will seal the color in. :)

gkelly5 (author)2011-10-01

Thank you! I thought the tutorial was quite clear. In fact, I made a grocery tote bag today. It took me about 4 hrs from start to finish including ferreting about for the bags and re-doing the handles which were a bit short first time round. Now that I know the process, the next one will be a lot quicker. My husband has already put his order in for one ;o) My tote used up 20 supermarket bags and is slightly larger than a supermarket bag. It's not the most stunning bag in the world, but it's serviceable and strong. The fused bag "fabric" resembles the plastic tarps you can get in the $2 shops, but not woven, obviously. I didn't have any stuff-ups fusing the bags. I used the cool end of the wool setting on my iron, since there is no rayon setting, and I used baking paper which I guess is the same as parchment paper, to sandwich the bags between when ironing.

kirnex (author)gkelly52013-01-25

Awesome job on that! You could also always use duct tape inside the bag to reinforce it for heavy duty jobs. Your bag turned out marvelously, though.

How did you connect your seams? I'm going to try my hand machine sewing some of this fabric for the same purpose.

KwartzKitten (author)2012-10-10

What's it like? Canvas, or more like a cotton? Maybe it's flexible enough to use like a furoshiki, but if not it's a creative replacement for the bags grocery stores and the like sell.

Ronyon (author)2011-04-23

Ive been looking for large, clear and cheap plastic panels,and this could be just the ticket!

timewarp71 (author)2010-07-17

Hi guys ! just found this site and I love it.....I am gonna try adding wax crayon shavings and see if i can add some "confetti" in the bags this way. I will let you know when i try it and see what the outcome is. I have made wallets, carrier bags, camping placemats and a liner for under my tent with this stuff. If you fuse the fabris with an iron instead of sewing, it prvents holes and makes this fabric virtually waterproof. Happy crafting.

casey321b (author)2008-05-20

can you use freezer paper rather than wax paper?

groksocket (author)casey321b2010-03-31

Freezer paper has plastic on one side (instead of wax) and this might fuse to your sheets. There are instructables that use freezer paper as a stencil, which is then ironed on to fabric to temporarily adhere to the t-shirt or whatever. It still might be worth a try, and maybe having a paper layer on the outside of the fabric would work okay/look nice. I might give this a go myself.

Lego man (author)casey321b2008-07-04

I haven't tried that yet because I have no freezer paper so you can tell me how it works if you try it. Parchment paper works best I believe.

akaleeroy (author)2010-02-15

Be careful about burning plastic!

Does anyone know if it's a problem when melting them together?

I suppose only when you burn thru and you create fumes, but we'd like some guidance here from somebody who knows this stuff...

Lego man (author)2008-01-08

I only have time to work on these things on Fridays because on Fridays I have no school. And also I'm on a First robotics team GO TEAM 60 YAAAA!!!! and Team 987.

robotguy4 (author)Lego man2009-09-24

TEAM 2090!!!! I know someone on that team.

Lego man (author)robotguy42009-09-24

Which person may i ask?

robotguy4 (author)Lego man2009-09-25

No one you know, probably. Its a Hawaii team.

Lego man (author)robotguy42009-09-26

Well i knew that with a quick internet serach :P what i meant is who did you know :P

rct1113 (author)Lego man2008-08-07

Oh, cool. I'm in FIRST, too. Go team 1123!

peytonjr (author)2009-06-25

how stiff or flexible is the finished product?

animan1 (author)peytonjr2009-08-12

its not bad if you do 8 ply its strong and flexibl but 64 cant move well :)

peytonjr (author)animan12009-08-12

ok cool. Im thinking of making some of this and then vacuum forming it :D

Zem (author)2009-04-06

Nice way to recycle plastic bags! But what do you do with the scraps? (Handles and bottom)

animan1 (author)Zem2009-08-12

toss them into a pile then make a collosse

Lego man (author)Zem2009-05-22

Sometimes I fuse them into strips and if i need a strengthened piece of fabric i will fuse it to that to reinforce like "re-bar"

Zem (author)Lego man2009-05-22

Oooh, cool thanks.

pyrotechnical (author)2008-11-20

whooooo! go MAKE! i saw the podcast then made this for biking. The podcasts were so much better with Bre. When i have some free time i'm gunna start on a different type of messenger bag.

Lego man (author)pyrotechnical2009-05-22

Yeah it was better when Bre was in it cause not all his projects were from MAKE magazine. I like Kipkays vids because i got to see how either how the project i wanted to do turned out or help me with things i didn't completely understand.

teoeva (author)2009-03-11

I'm just wondering about making that kind of fabric more resistant.... what about using the same "structure" of duct tape? plastic - fabric net - plastic could work good a fabric reinforcing will make it more resistant ...

Lego man (author)teoeva2009-05-22

Hmm I have never thought about that. That sounds like a good plan if you can get the fabric net into the plastic, I'm pretty sure it would work if you put the net in between 2 pieces of the plastic then fused it together. I will have to try it myself......Usually I will use the scraps as reinforcement but its prolly not as good as a net and it doesn't make the fabric as flexible.

RadiantLux (author)2009-03-30

I've been crocheting plarn into purses. The drawback is that crocheted things have lots of holes. Certain items might fall through the bottom of the purse. I wonder if this "fabric" would make a nice purse liner?

Lego man (author)RadiantLux2009-05-22

Yes it works very nicely as one if you are able to make it with no holes and to the right dimensions inside the purse. I recently made one for the plastic bag purse i made for my sister and it even waterproofed the inside.

seejanerun (author)2008-10-23

i have never heard of this....very neat. the one thing i would say that would be helpful is how this would be helpful, say like what you would use plastic fabric....

masterochicken (author)2007-12-22

What can I use this for.

gamer (author)masterochicken2007-12-24

anything, use your imagination. think something up. while reading this instructable, i though of almost 15 things to do with it. -gamer

masterochicken (author)gamer2007-12-24

mind posting them?

gamer (author)masterochicken2007-12-25

no problem. 1. a pillow 2. a inflatable chair (need a lot of bags) 3. bookbag 4. gift wrapping 5. makeing stronger plastic bags 6. heat shrink tubeing (i think it might work) 7. tarps to cover stuff (car, 4 wheeler, snomobeale) 8. rain coat 9. coin collection holders 10. homemade tape (add glue to bottom) 11. laptop case/bag 12. sholder strap for something (camera bag) i can't remember the others, but i think that'll be enough. -gamer

Lego man (author)gamer2008-05-26

Actually I accidentally found this: If you use the irons full heat on the bag while it is thick it can become shrink tubing. I bet it would work curled up too.

Joanassie (author)gamer2008-03-30

There IS a spell checker...

gamer (author)Joanassie2008-03-31

There WASN'T a spell checker back in December.... -gamer

masterochicken (author)2008-05-17

I finally thought of something to make with this.

casey321b (author)masterochicken2008-05-21

I decided I could use bent cardboard to make a hat. Since its waterproof (plastic is water proof duh) the cardboard wouldn't like get wet in the shade of the hat. Another one is in a survival kit to make a water pouch that you can hold water in. maybe with a bottle top that you can unscrew. ill give you pics wen I'm finished

Lego man (author)masterochicken2008-05-17

What is it? Its been 5 months, thats a good long time to think something up.

masterochicken (author)Lego man2008-05-18

I usually only think of things out necessity, and for 5 months I didn't need anything. I needed a sheath yesterday (so as not to chop my finger off) so I remembered this. I t works excellently.

Lego man (author)masterochicken2008-05-18


a Mammoth (author)2008-05-20

Couldn't you just use multiple bags instead of folding it? Pretty good format with enough details. The only thing to watch out for is making sure you credit Make, but you did properly. Now I got to think of a way to put this stuff right on cardboard.

About This Instructable




Bio: I'm just a crazy OT student that dreams of changing the medical industry one DIY at a time. I started out here as some ... More »
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