Introduction: Dress From Plastic Bags

Well I woke up yesterday morning and decided I wanted to make a dress out off plastic bags. So I did. I finished it this morning!! I decided to write it out as an Instructable in case it works out well...

If I don't make sense in the writing look what I've written on the pictures, if you still don't understand just comment and I'll try and get back to you :)

Step 1: Collect Bags! and Other Bits and Bobs...

I don't know about you but I'm the sort of person who would like a dress to have some sort of design, not just a mish mash of random carrier bags! So make sure you have plenty of bags before you start this project, different colours and lots of the same if you like coordination :D
You'll also need - scissors
                              - sewing machine (obviously not essential but VERY useful)
                              - threads of the colours of bags that you're using (or different if you want!)
                              - sellotape (instead of pins!)
                              - belt
                              - needle (the thinner the better)

Step 2: Decide on a Design.

Lay your bags out, try different combinations of bags for the top and skirt parts. If it helps tie the bags to yourself to get an idea of what the dress would look like.
When deciding on the top part make sure the bag will fit you so if you're a bigger gal then you need to look for a bigger bag! Remember it's better to get a bag which is too big as a bag which is too small will rip, and that's not good!!
Be adventurous, try combinations that you wouldn't be immediately drawn to, you never know what might inspire you!

For the top part you will need one bag (some bags are quite see through so you may either want to choose a bag that isn't or wear a vest or similar instead) and for the skirt you will need 3+ bags depending on the size and tightness you want. I used 5. For a tighter fitting one I would have used 3.

Step 3: Cut the Bags

Straighten the bottom of the bag out and cut the bottom off as close to the seam as possible, if the bag is for the skirt straighten the top and cut the handles off too. If it's the top part DO NOT cut the handles off, you will probably need to make the 'arm holes' bigger as most of the handles of bags I've used are waaay to tight on my arms/shoulders! When cutting the bags try and make it as smooth a cut as possible, without nicks, these will be a point of weakness from which a large rip could form so avoid at all costs!
The pictures describe what I've said here better!

Step 4: Skirt- Preparation

A tip to seeing if you have enough bags for the skirt - take a belt or length of fabric and thread your 'top and tailed' bags onto it. Tie it around your waist and spread the bags evenly. Add more/remove some until you're happy. It's up to you as to how many bags is enough, do you want a tight fitting skirt? Or a big floaty one? (it will be very floaty after all, it is made of plastic!)

Step 5: Skirt- Sewing Together

Flatten the bags out and take 2 and align them so they are folded down the original edges. Use the taggy bits at the top to help you (this is why you didn't cut them off from these pieces). Line the bottom of one 'bag' up with the top of another, as some bags are different sizes line up one edge so the bottom edge of the skirt is straight. Use sellotape to keep them together, make sure it is a few cm away from the edge you are going to sew. Trim of the taggy bits to make it easier to sew.

Setting up machine. I did a few tests and a relatively short stitch works best. On my machine that is stitch length 2 and a bit but you may want to test with some cut offs to find the best stitch with your machine. I set the foot pressure to 0, I'm not sure that was necessary but it worked fine!

Put the plastic on the machine and line it up as shown in the picture. Sew forward a few stitches then backtack to the edge and then start to sew right down the edge leaving a 5mm-10mm seam. This backtacking thing means there are no ends to sew in as you can trim the thread (carefully though) right next to the fabric. Backtack and forward at the end to. Trim thread ends and trim the edge of the bags (optional really...)

Repeat until all your bags are used (though you may want to test part way through to see if you have enough. I used one less than I'd prepared), ensuring that all the seams are on the same side of the project, right sides together in other words. When enough bags have been joined join the two ends together. 

Step 6: Skirt- Shaping

On the edge which isn't straight start to make dart like things, roughly 4cm long (so taking out 8cm of fabric), they're not going to be darts (unless of course you decide to make your dress that way of course) but that sort of fold. Secure with tape. I made on on every join between the bags and in the centre of every bag. This made the waistline a good size so I stopped there. You may need to add more or less depending on your size and the number of bags you've used.

Take it to the machine and sew around the top edge making sure that the 'darts' fold the same way every time. Going through this many layers of plastic may upset your machine a little, I used the hand powered bit a few times when it got stuck so be aware that this may happen! Remember the backtacking trick.

Step 7: Top Half

So you have your plastic bag top, bottom open and sleeve holes enlarged. Do you want an interesting neck line? A V neck? A boat neck? A square neck? Try the top on and mark (with a pen or similar, whiteboard/drywipe markers are good!) where the neckline should sit then cut it :D just be aware that on corners ripping will occur easily so if possible go for a curvy neckline. If it's symmetrical you could fold the bag in half then cut.

On the handles the plastic is folded and secured, to make it look nicer take the half that is at the back and cut it across the seal (look at the pictures, explaining it is hard!!) and then cut it off, cutting it smoothly so it joins the backline of the dress. Repeat at the front.

Step 8: Joining the Skirt to the Top :D

This is the moment where your plastic bags become a real life piece of clothing :O

Turn the skirt inside out and slot the top RIGHT WAY OUT inside the skirt. (I did this bit wrong so I just don't want people making the same mistake :P ) Tack (with tape) the two pieces together at 4 points like the points of a compass. Sew together with a cm seam, making sure you're NOT sewing over the sewing already on in the skirt as this weakens it a lot (trial and error...) and it one layer rips as shown...

I put the dress on and the back was a bit baggy so i went back and  took in a bit more in the seam as shown in one of the pictures...

Step 9: Belt (optional But It Hides the Join)

Fold the bag you want to use for the belt in half as shown in the first pic, fold it in this way again. Cut the handles off. Unfold the bag and take the two sides and pull it into a narrow band shape. If there's a particular pattern on the bag that you want to be visible on the belt try and get it to be at the front.

Fold and scrunch until its a bit like the picture! Sew across the belt at the original fold of the bag. Repeat on the other side.

In the centre of the belt secure it together at the back with tape or by hand sewing. You could secure the entire belt inside but I couldn't be bothered!

Step 10: Attach Belt

Mark the dress on the join line at both sides so it's easier to line up the belt. But the belt around the dress and have it on the machine. Tack forwards and backwards a few times along the stitching you've already made on the belt (not too many times or the plastic will tear)

Step 11: Extra Finishing Touches

Want to add a collar? A flower? A bow?

Collar- Choose another bag and cut the sides off, from the inside edge of the handles straight down. Cut the handles open . Stick them onto the inside of the neckline with most of the plastic to be folded out to the front. Sew them on with a 5mm seam.

Fold the collar out and cut them to the shape you want!!

Bow- take some off-cuts or cut some new and tie bows around say the shoulder straps or perhaps the belt. Or just tie a knot!

Flower- Make a flower in some way...
            - if you can crochet steps 1 and 2 of this are cool- Credit to Jaelle
            - if not use this- but use smaller squares of plastic and perhaps thread instead of wire! Credit to Plastic Bag Crafts

Step 12: Finished Dress


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