Friday, August 1, 2008

Recycled Tote

I saw the instructions in Family Fun Magazine for making a tote out of the plastic bags you get at a grocery store or Target or Walmart (why do they use only plastic?). The directions seemed simple enough and looked sort of fun. I had saved some bags from my daughters favorite stores with the intention of making a tote for her. I came ---> this close <--- to quitting halfway through and throwing it all in the trash. It worked out in the end (sort of.... it looks better in photos than in real life) and is actually pretty cute (if you're nine). I strayed a bit from the actual instructions and just sort of made it up as I went along.

What you need:

8 plastic shopping bags (use only those labeled No. 2 HDPE)
Parchment paper
Ironing board

What you do:

1. Cut the handles and bottoms from 8 shopping bags.

2. Arrange the bags neatly into two equal stacks. Make sure any printing on the top bag of the pile and the bottom bag of the pile faces inward and make sure that any "pleats" in the bags are straightened out as much as possible.

3. Sandwich one of the stacks between two pieces of parchment paper, making sure the plastic is entirely covered.

Beginning with the iron on a low setting, such as synthetics, move it steadily over the stack until the bags shrink and fuse together. If the bags do not fuse after 2 or 3 minutes, increase the iron's temperature. You may need to experiment to get the heat just right. Avoid touching the plastic directly with the hot iron. Set the fused sheet aside and repeat with the other stack.

(and don't do what I did and leave the hot iron on the bags while you take a picture. If I was smart, I would have staged this photo with a cold iron. The plastic shrivels up and melts very quickly once you find that "perfect" temperature.......grrrrr...)

4. To create one long sheet of plastic, lay the two sheets end-to-end, overlapping by one inch. Then iron the overlap between layers of parchment paper to fuse the sheets together.

(no, I still have not removed all of that nail polish from my fingernails from weeks ago, thanks for noticing.)

Here are the two piles of bags fused together. This is where I just about threw it all in the trash and called it a night. It was really hideous in person-- all bumpy and melty and shrunk unevenly... just plain ugly.

5. Choose colored plastic bag strips to decorate the outside of the sheet. Iron these plastic pieces to the sheet between parchment paper, as in step 2.

(some of mine weren't #2 HDPE and I found that these really actually melt rather than fuse. So be careful! I still used them because all of the cute colored bags aren't #2's!

6. Lay the sheet decorated-side down. Fold it so that the short ends match up, and tape the sides of the bag together. I actually taped all three closed sides, just to have it look uniform and pretty. Trim the top of the bag to even the edges.

7. For each handle, lay a 9-inch-long piece of tape in the center of an 18-inch-long piece, sticky sides together, then tape the handles to the inside of the bag. I actually used a 12 inch piece over a 24 inch piece.

1 comment:

Stephanie said...

I'm not even remotely crafty, but that looks so neat!

And despite the full-on luggage worth of cloth bags we take to the store, we always end up with more plastic...nice job!