Well, this week’s Baturday was a bit of a wrestling match. I’m not putting it into the “fail” pile, but it’s just not what I’d expected, which happens when we experiment, I guess.
I love recycling (I’m a bit of a hippy),and I certainly love the idea of craft that recycles or “upcycles”. In practise the result is often more about function than form; I’ve seen some recycling craft projects aimed at being purely decorative, but they never look like something I’d proudly hang on my wall. When it comes to plastic shopping bags I have yet to find a way to attractively recycle them. But everyone seems to have plastic bags shoved in cupboards and pantries. Our bag stash had definitely gotten out of hand and something needed to be done.
I’ve wanted to try fusing plastic bags after seeing tutorials just about everywhere. When a crafty ideas spreads like that it’s valid to assume plenty of people have had plenty of success with it.The most common use I’ve seen is fused, reusable grocery bags, which we can never really have too many of.
So I set to research and the general consensus seemed to be: eight layers of plastic is essential for a strong, durable fabric, and putting any holes in the fabric will create weak spots and should be avoided at all costs.. yet most tutorials suggest sewing together the fabric.
Most tutorials made their fabric in chunks, fusing all eight layers at once. Anything not-quite-fused and bubbles are weak spots that need more ironing to fuse properly. A minority said that by fusing all layers at once couldn’t guarantee a complete fuse through to the centre, instead it should be fused two layers at a time. Lastly I found a video suggesting fusing the edges to create seams, therefore avoiding holes from sewing (nifty).
Anywho, my general impression was that it was the type of project that could be done in an afternoon. Haha, ah, I guess that’s not the case for a Crafty Cripple dealing with winter flares.
I’ll just make it clear now: I rarely iron.. I only really own an iron for craft and the rare occasions JJ or I get dressed-up. So I didn’t have the forethought to think about the fact it’s the type of activity when I have to stand for quite a while and also bend my back because we usually use the dining table with some towels down to protect the surface. So I had to do this project in small bursts, iron for ten minutes, rest for half an hour, inevitably get distracted by the internet, rinse and repeat. It wasn’t until last night that I had the bright idea of sitting on the floor to iron; I know that sounds like it would be worse for my body but you just have to understand that my body likes to defy logic. And having trouble getting up off the floor also encouraged me to stay there and work. 😛
I don’t know if there’s something different about my plastic bags, they’re the most common, most supermarkets use them, but they really shrank a lot more than in the tutorials. Then when I’d got to add more layers the plastic wouldn’t shrink down and fuse, instead it would fuse a little and try to shrink which just caused it to tear and create a kind of holey, spiderweb effect. I tried fusing it so hard with the iron it’d all meld, but had to be careful not to melt and create more holes. I figured this was probably creating a weak fabric and ended-up pre-shrinking the sheets and then trying to fuse them on, that helped a tad. All in all it was a long and frustrating exercise. I really didn’t enjoy it and was often just downright avoiding it. Once I’d fused my two sheets of fabric together and had what I thought I needed for my “grocery bag” I started to become quite sceptical that this was going to turn into anything that could possibly hold groceries. The fused plastic fabric felt reasonably strong and durable, and quite stiff, kinda like cardstock. I fused the seams (it was suggested that I could turn it inside out to hide my seams.. no way in hell was that possible) and decided to stop there. I’d originally planned to add handles, and if I did I’m sure it could be an okay tote-bag for reasonably flat items. It’s so stiff, I think that trying to put anything of dimension in there, fruit, vegetables, god forbid a carton of milk, it would hold very little and probably break open the seams.
But, as I said at the start, I am not putting this in the “fail” pile. I quickly realised what it looked like and could certainly excel as… a parcel post bag! JJ suggested a laptop case, and I agree, with a little fabric lining it could do that job as well. But it really makes me think of the tough parcel bags. So I went ahead and decorated it as I’d planned, which was basically an excuse to play with my new metallic sharpies. I’m going to put it aside and as my crafting gets on more of a roll (and it will be, but that’s another post) I might use it for packaging in a craft swap or as a unique packaging idea for my planned shop.
This is something I’d like to revisit, after the bad taste has worn off and I’m feeling up to re-attacking it. Perhaps trying to fuse a stack of 6-8 layers all at once and see how that goes (a lot faster, I’d hope), and making it more of a cube, capable of holding items with more dimension.
But for now, this is this week’s Baturday :). I think I’m definitely going to have to make something very pretty next week to cheer me up. I love function, but nobody wants an ugly creation and I think this Baturday piece is definitely the kind only a mother could love (and the mother doesn’t really want to look at the damned thing at the moment! XD)