A TECHNIQUE DRIVEN Blog dedicated to mastery of surface design techniques. First we dye, overdye, paint, stitch, resist, tie, fold, silk screen, stamp, thermofax, batik, bejewel, stretch, shrink, sprinkle, Smooch, fuse, slice, dice, AND then we set it on fire using a variety of heat tools.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

December Technique--Plastic Fabric

The technique for the month of December is making and using plastic fabric. I had tried this quite awhile ago but wanted to experiment a bit more with it. It is easy to make and (hopefully) will get your creative juices going.

The "recipe" for making "fabric" from plastic bags is very simple.  

1.  Gather your plastic bags. (I like to use the thin ones that grocery stores use, but you can use others.)
2. Cut the bags open down one side and cut the handles and bottom off the bags. You want a fairly smooth surface of bags to work with.
3. Layer 4-6 bags (one on top of the other) between pieces of parchment paper to get a larger piece of "fabric." You can fold one bag to get the number of layers you need to make smaller pieces. (I found that if you mix the type of bags some of them melt faster than others. This may cause a bit more shrinkage and more ripples/bubbles in the "fabric." Personally, I like the texture that gives me.)
You can find Parchment Paper at the grocery store. If you don't have parchment paper, you can also use the paper backing that comes with some fusibles. I think that those non-stick applique sheets would work too.
Here, there are six bags layered one on top of the other.

4. In a well ventilated area, fuse the bags (layered between some type of non-stick material like parchment paper) together by ironing. Start out with a temperature setting of rayon, but keep in mind that you may need to increase the temperature. (I increased the temperature to the highest wool setting.) Keep the iron moving. (Some bags produce more fumes than others. I put my ironing board right next to a window and cracked the window.) It helps to iron the bags from both sides, especially if you are ironing six layers--turn the parchment paper "sandwich" over and iron the back too. Check to see if the bags are fused by lifting up the corner of your parchment paper. 
These bags are fused. You can see in the upper left-hand corner where the "fabric" has bubbled a bit. I got a bit impatient and increased the heat of my iron a little too high. I found, though, that I liked the texture this gave the "fabric."

Once the bags have been fused, you can use the bags like regular fabric. (Keep in mind, though, that pinning will create holes in the plastic fabric. You might want to use paper clips to hold the "fabric" instead.) Before using your plastic fabric you will probably want to paint and embellish it. I used acrylic paints and a Sharpie pen to decorate this green fabric.
When you are finished with your "fabric," it can be sewn and stitched. You can use it for purses, iPad/iPod cases, journal covers, etc. You could cut it apart and embellish a quilt with it. There are lots and lots of things you can do with it. I'm anxious to see what creative things you can come up with.

I decided to make a clutch purse out of my green "fabric." I liked the ruffled edge, so I decided to keep it. I am using a magnet (glued with E6000) to close it. I haven't yet decided which decorative closure to use. These are some of my choices--I may not have found the right one yet. Do you like any of these?

Here are some websites that will give you more information.

Tutorial for fused plastic fabric
How to make an iPad case with plastic fabric and general instructions


  1. Love the idea! how thick/thin was the paint?

    The first closure is spot on. The second one looks like it should go with something else and the third one gets lost.
    Sandy in the UK

  2. Very cool, Beth! I'm thinking a cover for my new Kindle is just the thing! And maybe I can get by without sewing by fusing the seams.

    As for closures, I like the second one best. I like how the blue background sets off the center "button".

  3. I like the first 2 closures and I like what you did with the fused plastic. I was kind of wondering where you were going with this but I really am pleasantly surprised at how well it came out....must try this.

  4. This is neat - I'd have to think about what to make with it - I guess I'll have a better idea once I've made some.

    I like the first closure best. :)

  5. Sandy, I just used enough paint to cover the graphics on the fused fabric. The thickness of the paint would depend on how dark the graphics on the bag are and how thick your paints are to start with. You will have to experiment a bit. For my green bag fabric I think I used Jacquard paints straight from the bottle. I used Setacolor paints straight from the jar on some other pieces I'll show later. I definitely could have thinned those some. It really depends on the effect you want.

  6. I saw this technique on TV this morning (HGTV's That's Clever) before work--Anna Hergert used saran wrap, which she painted, sparkled up and fused into 6 different layers, then cut it into strips and then circles, which she then sewed onto silk organza using a metallic thread. She ended up with a gorgeous scarf.

  7. Ooooo Laura, that sounds really interesting. I will have to try it.

  8. Love this technique -- it's not nearly as smelly as I worried it might be. I like both the first and second closures a lot!

  9. I have heard of this before and wanted to try it. So glad I will have an opportunity now. AND, thanks for making it an easy and inexpensive technique to try for December!

  10. I couldn't imagine what you would use this for, but your purse is so cute! I love the first closure. It really goes with the funky feeling of the purse. I may have to try this. I have experimented with fusing plastic, but never got anything worth using.

  11. Norma, I really had fun playing with the plastic fabric. I actually used the purse this past weekend. I had on a pretty "funky" outfit and thought the "funky" purse might be a nice addition. (I did choose the first option as the closure.) The purse held my cell phone and other necessary incidentals.


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