Recycled Shopper

Made on: 
Friday, 18 April, 2014

This project all started so simple... My uncle had some t-shirts lying around that he wanted to get rid of. They were some promotional shirts for a kid's camp that my niece was involved in. Being bright orange, I thought: hey, great for King's day next weekend. King's day, folmerly Queens day, is the day when we celebrate the birthday of our Queen en since this year birthday of our new King. It is one of the biggest national holidays in the Netherlands and the national colour being bright orange, everyone dresses in this (sometimes awful :P) colour and you can find many streetparties and beer in all of the big cities in the Netherlands. So, I took home two of the shirts, one for me and one for one of my friends. We're both quite petite, so I figured the kid's t's would fit.
When I got home I thought, hey, why not just make something of it (duh, why didn't I think of that before!). The first idea was a King's day t-shirt bag, very simple. Cut off the sleeves and cut down the neckline to make the handles. Seam and close the t-shirt at the bottom, done! Shouldn't take me more than 2 hours of work. Sure..
I started cutting up the t-shirt, but this is when it started spiraling out of control :P. The more I thought about it, the more changes I started to make. Assuming you would use this on Queens.., sorry, King's day (still getting used to it :S), you would wanna carry around at east a 6 pack of beer in it, right? Of course! And a stretchy t-shirt is not the best for that, so it needs a sturdy lining. What to use as a lining? Something recycled of course. A short trip through the house led me to piles of plastic bags we keep to reuse. Of course we have far more bags then we ever use, perfect!
2 hours later as I was ironing plastic bags to fuse them into long strips, thinking: what have I done..! So much for a fast and simple project... But, as I began to braid in the strips with all the random colours and lettering I started to really love it! I added some pictures with the first few steps of making the recycled plastic bag 'lining'. 

I'm not 100% sure yet what the final design of the bag will be, but I have some ideas! Interested how it will turn out? Check out next week's post!

Part 2
Phase 1 is complete, yay! I'm done braiding all the strips and made a big plastic sheet :) It's a bit bigger than what I'll need for the bag to allow for seems. I know it looks huge in the pic, but I'm quite small ;) The sheet is about 130x55 cm.

I'm really learning a lot from this projecct. For instance, I discovered that you can sew plastic just like fabric. Who knew! At first I wasn't planning on sewing the plastic strips, but as I finished braiding them I noticed that they still moved around a lot and they probably wouldn't support a lot of weight. The only option was to sew the whole thing together strip by strip.. Good news: this means that next time I can skip fusing the strips and sew them directly, yay! (So Raoul, no doozy neccessary ;)) Too bad I figured this out so late, but owell, you live you learn. Unfortunately, this is going to take a while... Searching the web for tips how to proceed I came across this tutorial on how to make thick plastic sheets from plastic bags. It says that even these thick sheets can be sewn easily with a sewing machine! Good idea if I ever try another project like this :)

This is the final design, a simple rectangle with the orange lining on one side and the plastic strips on the other. Since I made this small shoulder bag I've gotten a taste for reversible bags. So maybe I can make this one reversible too? Challenge accepted! 

How it all started: the orange T! Unfortunately I already cut up the t-shirt a bit, so making the bag was going to be a bit of a puzzle. I made the shopper as big as I could with the available fabric: 50x35x10 cm and I tried to reuse as many of the scraps as I could. I used the sleeves for the sides of the bag and jigsawed the pieces around the neckline into the bottom. Perfect!

Like I said, sewing the strips is taking a lot of time (Note to self: must figure out an easier way to do this...) I put a plastic garbage bag underneath and sewed the strips right onto it. Sewing the strips alone would be impossible, because they move and don't fit together perfectly. The garbage bag gives you a surface to stick them to. I am about half way through now. Can you see the difference? The sewn part is a lot more stirdy and holds its shape a lot better. 
The final step is to put the bag together. If it all works out it will be reversible! Check it out here.


Mar - Thu, 24/04/2014 - 11:14

Via the Scrapped by Mar Facebook page I got a really great question from my big brother: "Can you please explain the fusing by ironing without making charcoal or setting the house on fire thing to me sometime?"

Haha! First of all I'm really glad you're trying it :D But yeah, the ironing can be a doozy..

Here's some tips. Every plastic bag is made of a different mix/ type of plastic (hopefully recycled ;)), so not all of them will fuse with moderate heat you can get from an iron. Look for stirdy but "soft" bags that are stretchy when you rip them and don't squeak too much when you handle them. These will generally fuse better.

The key to no charcoal is hot and short. I used the "wool" setting on my iron. Mind u, this is two stages past the "nylon" setting which schuld already be enough to melt plastic, so it's pretty hot! Try out on a piece of plastic you're not going to use which setting is best on your iron before you start with the real thing.

Then remember short! I used wool setting for maximum of 5 seconds per plastic segment. Any longer than this and it will burn.. Of course this is not exact science, so some pieces will get burnt a lillte bit :P and a thicker piece of plastic may need a second more. Test it out, once you find the right settings, fusing the strips is very quick.

Oh, and one more tip. Use bags that are of similar consistency, so a similar type of plastic. I had to discard half my bags in the end because a tougher type of plastic wouldn't fuse. And having to change you're settings every other strip is just plain annoying...

Good luck! I would love to see your finished product, so send me a pic!

xx Mar

Raoul (not verified) - Thu, 24/04/2014 - 15:06

Yeah.. I'll just send you my plastic bags or wait till you're here and have you make a it for me. I'll pay you.

Mar - Sun, 27/04/2014 - 09:31

Too bad! It's really a lot simpler than you think :) But no worries, I'll be happy to help you out on my next visit ;)

Oeh, and I discovered that you can sew the plastic just like fabric, so you probably won't need to fuse them with heat at all :D More on this in the next post!

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