Introduction: Fuse Plastic Bags Into Fabric

About: SENSOREE Design Lab crafts bio-responsive fashions with expressive technology. Our Therapeutic Biomedia monitors the body systems and animates emotion with audio, visual, or tactile displays. We work with futu…

Give a second life to plastic bags . Create future fabric !
Here is a photo demo on how to fuse plastic bags into a new recycled fabric .

supply list :

. at least 4 plastic bags
. tracing paper or parchment paper
. scissors
. roller cutting blade
. cutting board
. iron
. ironing pad or ironing board [don't burn the table!]

advisable to have some sort of ventilation :

. respirator
. ventilator
. open window
. fan set up to blow fumes out the open window [don't inhale the fumes! are they really that toxic? not sure, but they tend to smell like cake, so beware!]

Step 1: Cut Tracing Paper

Cut 2 sheets of tracing paper or parchment paper to contain the plastic .

The sheets should be larger than the plastic.

I have 2 18" x 12" sheets.

Step 2: Make Sure to Have an Ironing Pad Below the Tracing Paper

Protect your table .

Have an ironing pad or and ironing board below the tracing paper.

Step 3: Cut the Seams and Handles Off of the Plastic Bags

Cut the plastic bags .

A roller cutting blade is the fastest tool to cut seams, handles, and labels off of the bags.
Use the cutting board and roller off the parts you do not want.
You might want the labels, or not.

You will need 2 - 6 layers of plastic to make the fused fabric.

Use less [2 sheets] to create a more transparent, flexible fabric.
Use more [4-6 sheets] for stronger, more durable fabric.

Step 4: Sandwich Plastic Between Tracing Paper

Build a sandwich of the materials .

The sandwich should look like this:

tracing paper
plastic sheet
plastic sheet
plastic sheet
plastic sheet
plastic sheet x ? [try as many as you like for your project]
tracing paper

placed on top of ironing pad

Step 5: Set Iron on a Low Setting and Keep It Moving !

Choose a low setting on the iron .

The Syn -thetic setting worked great on this iron.

Iron over the top piece of tracing paper in the sandwich [see prior step].
Keep the iron moving, so you don't melt holes in the plastic.
It is usually quick to melt.
Peek under the tracing paper to check the plastic often.

Step 6: Finished ! Fused Plastic Fabric Technique

Voila ! Here is the fused sheet of plastic fabric .

This one has 4 layers of plastic. It's thick and textureous.
As you go along, you will notice plastic has different personalities.
Some shrink fast and others take forever to fuse.
Some have texture and others are smooth.
That's life... Have fun!

Have A Nice Day !


Step 7: We Made the Breathing Wall Installation and the Thank You Dresses

Fusing plastic is very versatile. We created an installation with all single use bags and with the left over "Thank Yous" we were inspired to create a pair of dresses. Zero waste!

The BREATHING WALL responds to human presence with bio-luminescent inflatables. Inspired by sea anemones and puffer fish, this interactive installation reacts to touch and flow of movement.

Made from recycled materials; single-use plastic bags are fused together to create inflatable fabric with organic textures. Then, motion sensors connected to CPU computer fans respond to movement and begin to inflate the fabric. In this way, the interaction promotes an architectural dialog.

The Breathing Wall installation illuminates the current evolution of the Great Plastic Island within the aquatic environment – suspended plastic mimics and actually becomes the new sea life.

The Thank You Dresses
The Thank You Dresses are second life fashion made from re-fabricating plastic bags — fusing them together to create a new fabric. Inspired by classic vogue, one dress is 1920′s and the other is 1950′s.

Emily Gibson
Kristin Neidlinger

Thank you for up-cycling!