Introduction: The Plastic Bag Hoodie: How to Fuse Plastic Bags and Sew Them Into a Hoodie

Picture of The Plastic Bag Hoodie: How to Fuse Plastic Bags and Sew Them Into a Hoodie

I was inspired to make this Instructable by two things. 1. my lack of a rain jacket and 2. a project by maker bre who use to do weekend project for MAKE: magazine

So one rainy Saturday night I was running thought downtown with my friends to get out of the rain. i was wearing my favorite zip-up hoodie and when we got into a near by Starbucks I thought ,in my sopping wet hoodie "this does not work, this does not work at all"
Now at this point one of friends suggested we should have brought ponchos but I hate ponchos. So when I got home I found this weekend project on fusing plastic bags. So thus was born

The plastic bag hoodie.

Now you don't have to make a hoodie, you could make any thing you want. A wallet, a camera case, a parachute or even a rocket ship!!!!! (OK so I don't really recommend the last two but if your heart says yes go for it! but I'm not responsible )

Why is this instructable "green"? well billions of groceries bags are used every day and they serve a good purpose, to get your groceries home. But the humble grocery bag is used for how long? on average five minutes at most. So let it be reborn into something new and better. Not many people ever get to recycling their plastic bags. Also it takes less energy to make than reprocessing the plastic bag recycling plant or buying a raincoat made in gigantic factory or sweat shops .So this instructable

1. Saves plastic bags from slowly decomposing in landfills.

2. Keeps you nice and dry

3. Saves you money

4. saves energy

5. And it's easy!

6. it's freeeeee!!!!!

by the way this is the first time I've used a sewing machine (but i was going for the Frankenstein look)

also makes a cool original gift!

Step 1: The Materials

Picture of The Materials

The materials you will need are

1. A lot of plastic bags, grocery, garbage, any thing you can get your hands on but try to recycle (target bags work great) I used garbage bags that didn't fit in my garbage can

2. Thread, any kind should do

3. Wax, parchment , or even printer paper (2 pieces)

4. Newspaper

Step 2: Tools

Picture of Tools

Yay tools!

1. Sewing machine (or you could hand stitch it) or I suppose you could use a solder iron

2. Pins

3. Iron and board

4. Scissors

Step 3: Fusing Plastics Part One: Preparation

Picture of Fusing Plastics Part One: Preparation

Before you ever touch that iron you need to prep your bags

Snip off the handle and bottoms so you have a sort of tube.
Now turn it inside out so that when you start to iron the melty ink from the bag doesn't make a big mess!

Step 4: Fusing the Bags

Picture of Fusing the Bags

Lay a sheet of paper down on your ironing board. For the hoodie you want it to be four layers of plastic thick. This means either fold it once or stack two plastic bags. Then lay another piece of paper over it. Make sure the paper is bigger than the plastic. Then turn on your iron and set it somewhere under or on rayon/polyester. Run it over it for about 15 seconds(move slowly and it somtimes takes more than 15 seconds) then flip and do the same to the other side. Rub it between your fingers to make sure it's fused everywhere . Repeat till it is one sheet of plastic.
If you are the least bit confused watch this video:
By the way this is the video that inspired me!
do this in a well ventilated area like a garage

Step 5: Sewing Part One

Picture of Sewing Part One

Using the zig-zag stitch put together four sheets of plastic. Consult chart for sizes. For instance the two pieces that will be come the must be at least (if your medium) 61cm across and 68cm high. The arm is the same length every time because some of the shoulder becomes the arm. Don't cut out the pieces yet.
You will need to refer back to this chart.
For people who cant read the chart the second picture has image notes translating it.

Step 6: Sewing Part 2

Picture of Sewing Part 2

Technically there is no sewing involved in this step, but it's here to make insure a easier sewing experience. Find some newspaper and cut every thing out to size. The front and back are pretty straightforward, the arm though take a bit of geometry. 1. Draw out the center line 2. Draw bottom line keeping it centered 3. Draw cuff lines 4. Draw top line keeping it centered 5. Connect top to bottom

Hurray for geometry!

Step 7: Sewing Part 3

Picture of Sewing Part 3

Pin the newspaper model onto the plastic sheets. Cut them out. Cut a circle with the diamiter of 7 in. cut in half. Center on the top and cut to make the collar. Cut front in half. Stitch shoulders together than an open arm and than the next. Now the hard part. fold over and stitch the arms and sides in one fail swoop. Flip inside out (now declared inside in) now there is a seam where the arms and side are together.

Congrats! you now have a jacket but it's still missing a hood...

Step 8: The Hood

Picture of The Hood

The hood is simple, but connecting it is a pain. Fuse enough pieces that, when stitched, wrap around your head and then stitch the tops together . It is wise to over shoot here. Pin (use many pins!) as shown in the pictures. First to the back bit then the collar. Don't connect the collar closed. Stitch and go to next step

Step 9: The Hood Part 2

Picture of The Hood Part 2

Hold top closed and look in mirror. Snip off excess. Flip hood inside out so you'll have a seam when you flip it back. Stitch up top and OPTIONAL: snip off the pointy bit of the hood.

Step 10: The Zipper

I do not know where to buy a zipper but I know how to to install one

1. Align the first half of the zipper on the front

2. Pin down

3. Stitch up to top

4. Then go back down so it is firmly in place

5. repeat

And if you all don't mind can you suggest a place to buy zippers?
UPDATE' k now you don't have to,

Step 11: Please Do

Picture of Please Do


1. Comment (I always love a great idea)

2. Post pics

3. Vote!

Thank you I will soon have a pic of the finished hoodie


DataLoreBorg (author)2015-06-22

This seems super cool but my mom is worried about me messing up her iron is there a chance that could happen? or could I get one for cheap at a thrift store or something like that?

imrobot (author)DataLoreBorg2015-06-23

Hey there! When I originally made this my mom had the same concern! In the end I went out and bought a cheap iron and nothing bad happened to it during the project, I was really careful to never let any plastic out from the wax paper near the iron. I was a good thing i bought the iron though, it meant i had one already when I went to college!

DataLoreBorg (author)imrobot2015-06-23

Thanks Alot man I made it today and I came up with some awesome uses for it. Do you know of any ways to paint it? because now it looks really ugly

imrobot (author)DataLoreBorg2015-06-23

not that i know of, that tyvec look is sort of part of it. In my experience shopping bags can look a little smoother. Maybe 8 layers instead of 4?

DataLoreBorg (author)imrobot2015-06-23

I used 12 layers of K-mart bags and it had a weird webish texture so I tried a spray paint that sticks to plastic so I'll see how that turned out in the morning!

Update: The spay paint worked and it stuck to the plastic even when you bent it.

imrobot (author)DataLoreBorg2015-06-24

A++, I pinned you up in the comments so hopefully your experimentation help others!

DataLoreBorg (author)imrobot2015-06-26

Cool Thanks!

St Jimmy (author)2010-11-22

If you are only making a small object (a card case for my Magic cards), could you skip the sewing and instead fuse at right angles along the seam?

imrobot (author)St Jimmy2010-11-28

maybe but I'm not sure if I follow what you are saying

St Jimmy (author)imrobot2010-11-28

I mean place two sheets against each other at right angles (one flat and one pointing down) and fuse with the iron. Also, I tried it, and it isn't strong, but it worked. Also also, I found that anything thicker than five layers (2 and a half bags) was too thick and got holes in it and didn't fuse properly

imrobot (author)St Jimmy2010-11-29

interesting, if you don't mind I'm going to feature your comment, it's got some great info!

St Jimmy (author)imrobot2010-11-29

Cool man, thanks!

JenniferR30 (author)2015-08-31

Have you tried putting a layer of onion sacks in between the layers to add strength? But maybe it would also add a texture that you don't want?

geekdude (author)2009-05-01

yes but does fuseing the bags emit toxins into the air? did it make you feel lightheadded? on second thought it probably doesnt release much toxic gass unless you fuse the pieces together with a soldering iron also mabye you could use all white bags and add some type of dye. i have seen how tos on the internet about dyeing plastic computer parts with Rit.

geekdude (author)geekdude2013-01-02

I guess I shouldn't be talking I often solder in improperly ventilated areas

geekdude (author)geekdude2013-01-02

I guess I shouldn't be talking I often solder in improperly ventilated areas

I have over heated plastic bags when fusing them....very dizzy and nauseous for about 15 minutes. I did not like that.

Arghus (author)geekdude2009-05-13

i don't think because it doesnt burn the plastic but just melts it with the iron

imrobot (author)geekdude2009-05-01

oooo nice catch i forgot to mention to do this in a well ventilated area like a garage

CorpseRsCarla (author)imrobot2009-05-08

Actually you did say that, in step 4.

imrobot (author)CorpseRsCarla2009-05-10

oh... that's embarrassing I guess I'm more of a space case than I thought... opps

urbanwoodswalker (author)2012-12-12

Ok, I been doing this for years--even won an iPad for my plastic bag coat a few years back. Its a cool idea. but...I must tell you...

1. You should not even have plastic bags "from target." We all should be concious in going to the store. bring your own bags when shopping (hopefully not plastic bags). Now...if you need plastic bags....ask your friends and neighbors, or raid the plastic bag collection bins at the major grocery and office supply stores.

2. Plastic bags, or anything else will not decompose in a landfill. Studies have shown that even newspaper, and food waste still intact after 40 YEARS...due to landfills having no oxygen in them. Its a fallacy that anything biodegrades in landfills. So don't say it, please?

3. I love the hoodie. It looks like you used spray paint ....? Cool look, but then you are not being eco friendly with all those cans, and air borne droplets. Just saying. Its a great project, and you have a AWESOME expensive looking fashion here...but environmental pluses are not all that in this case. its STILL is wonderful though.

whew...just HAD to get this off my chest.

imrobot (author)urbanwoodswalker2012-12-12

Wow, awesome! No used some trash bags.

greensteam (author)2009-05-02

How did it work out in actual rain? It occurred to me that the seams might leak where the sewing has created holes. Commercial waterproofs have taped seams to get over that problem. Perhaps you could do the same by ironing/fusing more plastic over each seam?? Or even just ironing the whole thing again might be enough?? I like the look though. good job.

If you iron over the work again, after its nearly finished, , you stand the risk of shrinking the jacket in parts. Or melting a hole. I have had all these problems in making plastic bag clothing.

imrobot (author)greensteam2009-05-02

hmmm I think about it, and about the waterproof-ness once I get the zipper I'll tell you (but I'm pretty sure it fine, I feel the water is more likely to roll past it before getting through such a small hole)

socalgrl (author)imrobot2009-05-14

to waterproof seams i use a thin line of clear silicone calking that comes in a little squeeze tube, use inside the jacket, and run it along the stitch line, spread and flatten with your finger or carboard . let dry. this does work, and uses up half finished tubes lying around.

Duke Luke (author)socalgrl2009-08-02

soldering the plastic sheets together instead of sewing them (as imrobot briefly mentioned) would get rid of the problem of leakage.

imrobot (author)socalgrl2009-05-17

will it stay flexible and is it expensive? thanks and don't forget to vote!

bmlbytes (author)imrobot2009-06-15

Caulk is very flexible (its like rubber) and you can buy a tube for a few dollars at a home improvement store.

imrobot (author)bmlbytes2009-06-15

hmmm i think i mean is it limp because you will want as much free movement as you can get.

bmlbytes (author)imrobot2009-06-15

It wont restrict your movement if you only put it on the seems

imrobot (author)bmlbytes2009-06-16

ahh but look the seems are everywhere! but what I'm most worried about is the seems on the arms.

itsalladream (author)imrobot2009-05-03

I see you've never been camping in a seemingly waterproof tent before.

imrobot (author)itsalladream2009-05-03


itsalladream (author)imrobot2009-05-05

Well, if you look at a tent, it would seemingly be waterproof (even though some aren't, and some are supposed to be, but aren't), but give it a few minutes, and water will begin seeping in through the stitches. Also, with this, considering that it is plastic, the pastic may be prone to stretching around the threaded holes with minimal pulling against the threads. And maybe I'm wrong, but it just seems that way to me. Wrong or right, this idea could be made to work.

imrobot (author)itsalladream2009-05-05

hmmm in that case it may be wise to fuse one layer of plastic over the stitches. good point thanks imrobot

Actually you need some air holes to let it breath, If it doesn't, it'll be raining on the inside with your sweat! Been there- I know!

Mike Alexander (author)2009-06-30

FYI there is no inherent danger in fusing plastic bags with a low temp iron. there is no inherent danger in shrinking polystyrene (#6 plastics) at the temperatures available in a home oven. they do not off-gas dioxins and are not causing ecological damage. polystyrene and polyethelene (used in plastic bags) does not contain the chemical constituents necessary to produce dioxin.

Its ALL too easy to over heat plastic in this kind of project. I have made many art garments out of plastic bags...for galleries, and fashion shows. I can say you CAN indeed over heat plastic bags...if your iron is too hot. and the undetectable fumes can make you very dizzy , nauseous, and kill a small pet such as a bird. Always do this with every door and window open, or outdoors!

I have worked with plastics for 8 years now...burned it, melted it, fried it, you name it...and done a lot of reading on the subject. plus I HAVE gotten sick at least 3 times in 8 years from over heating plastic bags. Plastic bags comes in at least 3 different codes. Its impossible to be able to tell the exact chemical compositions all of the time. and depending on how thin or thick it is, and if its made with recycled content...they all have varying rates of heat melt.

I am not saying not to try this wonderful craft...but saying there is "no inherent danger" is false. I have taught fusing plastic bags also...and always say there is a certain risk. If you are getting holes when you fuse...your iron is too high a temp for that particular bag.

And as for your statements about lack of toxicity , no "off gassing" etc. ....I would like to know where you are getting your information. Its simply not true. The point is...taking risks is creative and fun...but please arm yourself with knowledge and do not mid-inform anyone.

imrobot (author)Mike Alexander2009-07-05

thanks for the info!

ecsaul23 (author)2012-11-29

Very cool! Great job

raiderdk (author)2012-10-28

I didn't read al the coments, I have question , is possible refuse parts togheter to avoid some sewing lines?

I think you can make bigger sheets making an "offset overlaping pattern" whit thin plastic sheets and fusing together a large sheet. (like bricks in the wall, one think sheet, another over but half in half out, the out part will fuse later with other thin sheet

imrobot (author)raiderdk2012-10-28

ya totally but, keep in mind the more sheets you fuse, the thicker (and stiffer) the sheets get.

happy hacking!


raiderdk (author)imrobot2012-10-28

I mean keeping the number of sheets. I make a sideview draw to explain it.

If number of layers are 4:

Put orange sheet, purple, orange and purple, as drawed, and iron only the part with 4 layers, (the right gray witdh),

later put a blue sheet between the unironed part of oranges and another one upper of them, iron the middle gray part, repeat with green and iron... repeat until desired width.

Maybe you need more ironing time cause you iron the half width of a sheet each time, but you can obtain a continous sheet, with patience you can make a 2d overlaped pattern to make it continuos in width and length.

Even a loop piece if overlap purple and green (I mean first and last part) and iron carefully between.

cool2000 (author)2012-03-18

Is the white part ( made from white grocery bags) see through?

tavetski2701 (author)2011-11-15

very Nice project- I really really like the simple balack and white contrast .. and the skinny sleeves. overall and awesome design!

imccann1 (author)2011-11-03

or, you could skip ALL of the steps and use Duct tape.

blodefood (author)imccann12011-11-11

I have seen duct tape used to excellent effect. The only problem is that, especially in hot weather, the adhesive tends to get gummy and squishes out from under the tape. Besides, this project uses items that would otherwise be thrown away.

About This Instructable




Bio: I make things. Anything, on a super cheap budget. Things with personality are awesome and dangerous things are super fun. Things with personality that are ... More »
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