Mar 29, 2010

Iron on decals from plastic shopping bags

I've been playing around with this idea for a while (you can tell from the Christmas tree in the background of a few of the photos). It's quite fun and a good way to cover up stains that can't be removed from well, nearly all the tshirts my kids have.



Ages ago I started collecting interesting coloured plastic bags from friends, thinking that I would make some reusable shopping bags by ironing them together to make a kind of Tyvek material. This has been done a lot in the last few years, and there are a lot of tutorials out there on the internet showing how to fuse plastic shopping bags into a more durable kind of material that can be sewn like fabric. Here's a good one, in case you've not seen or heard of it before. Here are a few lovely examples of fused bags too.

Before I got around to collecting enough to make a fused bag project. I started wondering if I could use the same iron and parchment paper method to iron some of the cute plastic decals to the kid's clothing. Among the bags that my friends saved for me were some cute disney store ones, some party favour bags, some Lego store ones and a whole load of brightly coloured ones and ones with patterns like those from Old Navy.





I decided to start off by trying to iron a disney princess onto an old vest. Just cut out the image from the bag, then places it where I wanted it on the shirt and put some parchment paper over the top before ironing it on.







I had the iron set to cotton setting and found that providing the decal I cut out was smaller than the footprint of the iron, then I could get the bag to fuse really well to the tshirt material by pressing down hard and holding it for about ten seconds. If I wasn't quick enough putting the iron down hard then the bag would shrivel and distort the decal, which is why I stuck to doing ones that were smaller than the iron base. Let it cool a bit before you pull off the parchment paper, so that the plastic is set.

You're basically melting the bag into the surface of the fabric enough that once it has cooled, it won't peel back off. Once you've done the initial quick hard press of the iron and the plastic is adhered to the fabric, then you can go over it again to make sure it it well fused. If there are corners not fused, or it's not melted into the fabric enough then there's a chance that it'll peel off in the wash. That happened with the large decal of cinderella that I tried. It was just a bit too big, and I didn't get it totally fused to the tshirt enough. Still, I'm experimenting with this so that you don't have to right?




Because the plastic bags are so thin, when they bond to the fabric they leave the material still nice and soft feeling, not like the iron on transfers you can buy to print onto, which really seem to bulk up the fabric.

The other interesting thing with this is that you can deliberately iron the decals a little less, so that they *can* be peeled off. The cinderella one stayed well adhered whilst being worn all day, but when it came to machine washing, it just peeled right off and didn't make a mess of the shirt at all. Could be a cool way to change up plain tshirts for special events, so you can peel it all off after and use the tshirt again. All the ones I've done since then have been well ironed on perminent decals though.

Party favour bag butterfly decal on a pair of home made long tshirt shorts worked really well.



Some bags did work better than others, but most bags worked fine with varying amounts of ironing. The only thing that didn't work, which was a shame, was some easter eggs that I cut out of a really thin plastic dollar store table cloth. I'd rescued the table cloth from the bin at a local party thinking it would be great to cut out and iron on the eggs and bunnies to make easter skirts for the girls, but the plastic was just too thin and fragmented when I ironed it.



I ended up cutting out a load of egg shapes from the other bags that I had to make the first easter skirt. Added a load of hand cut flowers too.



I had two large tshirts to make the skirts from, by just threading elastic through the bottom hem. One from Goodwill and one from the Dollar Tree. My kids have a few skirts like these of various lengths, because they are so easy, cheap and fast to make.



Some of the yellow flowers I wasn't quick enough to press down on, so they shrivelled a bit, actually it was more because my ironing board is really lame, so I had to pad the surface to get even contact with the iron, but once I realised that, they worked much better.

Here's a flower laid out before ironing.




Here's one that shrivelled.



And here's one after I sorted out padding the crummy ironing board to get even pressure.



Once I'd done the pink skirt for my older daughter, I thought I'd try putting my own decal together on the blue skirts by cutting shapes out of the coloured bags. I cut out separate shapes for the head, ears, body, feet and tail of the bunny from a white Safeway's bag, and ironed them on one at a time. Then cut out the pink for the ears and face and ironed them on top. Then cut out the yellow basket and ironed that on. I drew over the decal with a perminent marker and ironed that to set it into the plastic.



Finally I thought I'd see if I could punch out shapes from the plastic bags with scrapbook shape punches. I have a couple of really small ones that are flowers. I found that if you sandwich the bag between two layers of parchment paper (I guess any paper would do, I just had the parchment paper right there because I was using it already) then you can cut out a really clean shape from the bag to iron on. I ironed on two teeny little flowers to the basket and then cut some green bits of grass to iron on too.





I'm going to ask a mate of mine that is into scrapbooking if I can borrow a few of her shape cutters to get some more shapes cut from the bags I have, as this is much easier and quicker than hand cutting with scissors! If you have some of these punches already then this project will be really really quick and easy for you to try out.



Sorry if you noticed the chaos of accidental posting earlier today. It's been a bit on the looney side here the last two weeks. I've had some unexpected surgery and things are only just getting back to normal. I'm clearly still a couple of cans short of a six pack though, and managed to post this before I added any of the images. Whoops!



As you can see, it is spring break this week, so we are taking it easy and playing twister while the laundry doesn't get folded. NB. don't worry, Twister is a spectator sport for me until I am fully recovered ;)

UPDATE:
More info and another example here for you if you want to give this a go.

UPDATE 2:
Another plastic bag decal project that the kids can be involved in this time, here.

113 comments:

Heather - Dollarstorecrafts.com said...

You are such a freakin' genius! I just LOVE how innovative you are. Every post of yours tickles me to death.

This is amazing! Thanks for sharing.

The Hemulen said...

Thanks for another interesting post! I love the re-use factor of virtually everything you do. And finally, something productive to do with a plastic bag! Hope the surgery went well, and you're feeling like contorting yourself over a Twister mat again sometime soon ;)

Kelly said...

This is nothing short of awesome, especially since I just spent 3 days appliqueing t-shirts the old fashioned way. I'm off to rummage through the recycling!

Eva said...

wow amazing I can't wait to try this out, I can't believe this works!! awesome idea

Amanda said...

Brilliance! Who would have know that you could do that. Amazing. Thanks so much, will file that one away for future use.

togetherforgood said...

That is so, so cool. I am totally NOT crafty, but I could so do that. Awesome! :)

Crystal said...

Wow who knew?! I bet I could cut some on my cricut. hmmmmmmmm

Care said...

This is so completely fabulous! I love what you've done with the little Easter appliques!

I hope you recover quickly from your surgery and get back to "full six-pack status" as soon as possible!

Oh -- I saw your paper pizza mentioned in Family Fun Magazine this month -- Congrats on that little spot!

lisa said...

I never would have thought this would worked. It results looks really cool. Hard to believe it's from bags!

Elizabeth said...

Dude. That rocks! I will keep my eyes open for some cute bags to try ironing.

Saw your craft in FamilyFun magazine today. They could feature your blog in every issue and never run out of ideas!

Hippy Goodwife said...

This is amazing! I cannot wait to sort out some bags and try it out!

Rosa said...

I've come to really enjoy your blog! Such fabulous and creative ideas.

Hope you're healing up from your surgery!

LiEr said...

Why am I spending money on those iron-on printer transfer sheets that cost a bomb? This is brilliant! Now to find Maisy plastic bags so can make Maisy underwear. Brilliant (as said earlier! Thank you, KM!

donna said...

wow this is such a cool idea! i can see a plastic bag collection coming on.

Junior Filth Witch said...

Hi Kitten Muffin,
I stumbled upon your inspirational blog a couple of weeks ago and have been addicted since. Glad to see you back!

Rachel B said...

I love this idea because I sometimes have bags that are so cute and don't know what to do with them.

crafterhours said...

AMAZING!!!!! I love it. Just put it in the "We Love It" section of our blog. Thank you!!!

Taly said...

That looks really cool - will have to give it a try.

Edie's Fashion Factory said...

This is insanely brilliant! I've seen all kinds of upcycling of plastic bags but this is a totally new level of awesomeness. I've gotta try it.
Thanks so much for sharing it. You're the best!

Ann Martin said...

Your posts (and the cuteness of your girls) never fail to amaze me! Well thought out idea once again. Hope you'll be feeling 100% again soon.

Evil_Lina said...

This is too cool! Thank you so much for sharing! I knew there was a reason I've been hoarding all those cute-looking plastic bags.

KimberlyShavatt said...

This is an incredible idea! I love it and can't wait to try it out. Brilliant!!!

Jenn said...

Oh my goodness. I LOVE this!! I've linked to it on my blog. Just have to share your genius! :)

Kymy ~ www.everythingyourmamamade.com said...

This is AWESOME!!!! Off to find some colored bags :)

janimal said...

Those are awesome. What a fabulous idea. Another one of your projects I will definitely have to add to the list. Rocks!

JessicaH said...

A great idea! Does the plastic stink when you are fusing it? I am preggers and don't really want to be inhaling any nasty fumes.

madebymegs said...

I would have never in a million years thought of this idea....seriously...totally awesome :)

Karen said...

This is the height of awesomeness! Your artistic ability is pretty awesome, too, but I was thinking people like me, with little artistic ability, could use coloring pages as templates for pieced designs, like your too cute bunny!

Wendy said...

OMG! This is such a fantastic idea! Thanks!

CraftyRichela said...

This is INCREDIBLE! Thanks for this. I've been saving plastics bags, not knowing what to really do with all of them. Thank you, thank you, thank you...

Sonja @ Craft-Werk said...

This is amazing. I would never have thought that this could work. I must try this out, even though there is a serious lack of plastic bags in my house. Thanks for sharing, love it...

nylon said...

i don't know if anyone has said this before but ... you really need to write a book. seriously.

Heather@ My Frugal Family said...

What a fantastic project!!

Imperfectly Perfect said...

do you realize how genius this is. other smart ideas you've seen a few other times. but this one i haven't seen anywhere else. GREAT THINKING!!

Ramon said...

Great. Im going to try today. Now mi opninion in Spanish ;)
Que bueno. Cosas así son lo mejor para divertirse con los niños. Creativo, barato y divertido. Estoy enganchado a este blog ;)
Enhorabuena.
Congratulationas and than you very much

caroline said...

I just found you from dollar store crafts. Too bad I didn't see this last week, I was looking for a Strawberry shortcake shirt for my daughter to wear at her birthday party! Now though I know and I can use an extra goodie bag to boot! Very cool.

Sophia said...

This is such an ingenious idea! I happened upon your site because of this tutorial featured on Dollar Store Crafts, and I am LOVING your blog. Your t-shirt skirts are adorable! This is on my to do list now. =)

Amy {The Red Chair Blog} said...

Brilliant, brilliant! Found you via Dollar Store Crafts. Thanks for sharing your experiments!

Jen said...

So cool. Now I know what I can do with all of my leftover birthday bags. Thanks!

Creative and Curious Kids!

Kara said...

Oh, my stars! I LOVE this!

And, how have I not been to your fantastic blog before? I'm a subscriber now - and looking forward to reading.

Best Wishes!

Julie Bagamary said...

VERY clever!

Polly said...

This is a great idea...my only question is...how have they been holding up in the drier?

Kitten Muffin said...

Ooh Good point Polly! I think only the Belle one has been in the tumbler so far. That seems to be fine so far and it was the first one that I did, so it's lasted a bit over three months to date. When I do tumble dry anything it's usually on the cooler setting though. Not sure if they would deal with a super hot setting in a tumbler or not.

Amanda said...

Wow this is really really cool. Now I'm going to be eyeballing plastic bags!!

Amandalee said...

This really is an awesome awesome idea! Thanks very much for sharing such a neat idea!

Sugar Bananas said...

No way! This looks like so much fun. - and free! Thanks for posting.

biancifiore said...

oooh, what a great idea! you're incredible!

Annchan said...

I looked through all the comments looking for information on how they hold up in the drier and am disappointed that there has not been much testing in this area. I will have to try this out on some test fabric.... Anyone else try it in the drier on hot?

Lenetta @ Nettacow said...

Wow, wonderful! I so appreciate the tips and tricks on what worked and what didn't - because I will surely find the ways that don't work otherwise. :>) I linked to this on my weekly roundup last week and am just now (yikes!) getting around to comment. Thanks so much for sharing!

Aisyah said...

I love this idea! I just found out about it and am excited to try it soon. I emailed you to ask permission to link your tutorial on my blog,maybe you didn't get it. I really would love to share this with my readers. Thanks!

Sandra said...

Just tried this and loved it! Cannot wait to try more designs. Thank you for being so creative and truly amazing!!!

marci_jo said...

This is awesome, thanks so much for the idea!

Cat said...

love love love this!

Aimeé said...

I can't wait to try this. Will link you when I do!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the wonderfull tutorial. Now just get enough of pictures... :-) Veronika

Tamara said...

I had to scroll down for 2 days to leave a comment!LOL(exxag.)
I have ruint t-shirt after t-shirt with this ignorant iron I have!! It worked great for some really neat pants that I (well,Ray ripped a hole in...throwing me down the driveway...another story)
Anyways,I loooved these pants and he just ruined the suckers...then I happened upon these blil dacal(i guess u call em)...but they are iron on patches...some have flowers,some have peace signs...etc....and I was in hog heaven w/ not only creative ideas....but fixxer-uppers for my ripped favorite jeans..Gosh,your posts sure do inspire me.I just wanna shut down the computer & go get this stuff that U have that make these awesome do-dads'...lol
Makes me wanna flaunt me creative stuff.....the fused bags sound like a start for me!!!
How cool!!

lisa said...

hi, i found your blog thru the crafty crow and love all your ideas! i was hoping you could give me some pointers on the iron on decals though. i have tried it and tried it but all i seem to be doing is fusing the bag image to the parchment paper. i cant get it to stick to the shirt. did you run into this problem? do you have any pointers that could help me out? ive been trying to use a bag from the disney store and a cotton t from joann fabrics. thanks!

Anna M. said...

That is so cool, my niece would love the disney princess shirt.

Anonymous said...

I loved it! but i can`t make the image to fuse to the tshirt, same as Lisa. I am in Mexico, i can`t find the parchment paper here... do you have another option?

Ladybug said...

Wowsers! That's a great idea! You are soooooo clever!! TFS! :-)

Anonymous said...

You are amazing! You should get some sort of recycling award, as well as an award for frugal creativity! Those skirts and shirts are adorable, and not expensive, but I bet you could sell them for quite a bit at a craft show! Lucky children in your home!

winzercastle@sbcglobal.net

Jeffrey said...

i have no arts and crafts experience, but to solve your problem about only using decals from the plastic that fits your iron, why don't you heat up a large sauce pan on the stove to melt the plastic on larger decals.

elysplanet said...

Wow! I like this site. I only stumbled upon this. Great!

Lindsey said...

These are really good and are an awesome idea!! Be careful though, Disney is known for suing anyone for infringement, they've even sued preschools for painting Disney characters on their wall without proper licensing.

Anonymous said...

Any toxic fumes from the melting plastic?

Debilou~Mississippi Mama said...

this is the coolest thing I have seen on any blogs this week,, I've seen where people made bags fusing the plastic together but I didnt know you could iron it to fabric like that.. so neat. Thanks for sharing,, I must try this!!

regenbogenbuntes said...

THANK YOU so much for this lovely idea, i will provide it in german Bloggs, noting your name an blogg
NETTE

Anonymous said...

The fused applique idea is great. Will the clothing go through the wash or should I hand wash it?

Cami said...

This is a fabulous tutorial. Very complete and helpful. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

We've never met, and this is my first visit to your blog, but... I think I love you!!! Awesome tutorial, cannot wait to try this! Thank you! (skipping off joyfully to cupboard full of grocery bags)

Cathy.

Gripnette said...

I don't know how do you get these ideas but you are a genius

creativejewishmom/Sara said...

this is amazing! i'd love it if you'd drop by my crafty linking party and share this! Sun thru Tues @ creativejewishmom.com hope to see you there!

Beki said...

This is incredible!! I'm going to have to try this now. :D Thanks for sharing. <3

Anonymous said...

The Discovery Museums in Acton MA (USA)have a harmonograph table which is awesome. They also have a handout which tells how to build a small one at home using materials you could get at a home improvement store for not much money. I don't think the instructions are on their website but if you contact them maybe they would fax it to you. Their website is:
http://discoverymuseums.org/hands-exhibits/harmonograph-table-0

Tamara said...

Thanks so much for this tutorial!! I use this to make a super hero themed pencil case as a gift. I couldn't find any super hero fabric, but your tutorial saved me and I used batman party goodie bags ironed on to my fabric. so much fun!!

Mandy [Mandy's Yellow Corner] said...

Oh my word! This is AMAZING! I'm definitely going to try it :] Does anything happen to the decals when you wash the clothes?

N from the Learning Ark said...

Amazing!! Will try this.

Anonymous said...

My God! I am a 26-year-old from Romania, and now, that i've discovered your post i can make (finally) the bags and t-shirst that i always dreamed about doing, with smart messages on them. Thank you very much for sharing!!!!

Laura Cristina

Gina said...

This is fantastic! I've just tried it to make a couple of t-shirts for my daughter and it works perfectly. Who'd have thought it?

Thanks so much for sharing this idea. You've brightened up our afternoon considerably (and probably several more to come).

bubbleyness said...

Very cool i'am so trying this!

Elmarie said...

WOW! What a cool idea! I can actually pull this off with my craft handicap :) Thanks for sharing!!

Lynn Nasir said...

hi!

thanks for sharing, your idea is soooo cool!! love it ^^

Cindy said...

Thanks you for posting this! Sooooo simple, yet so just not something I would think of. Genius!

Anonymous said...

Its not working for me either :( I've tried different fabrics and papers but my image keep attaching to the paper, did anyone else manage to solve this problem?

Lindsey said...

It's all down the type of paper you use. It's the stuff that you bake with. It's called "parchment paper" in the US and "greaseproof paper" in the UK. Not wax paper though! I don't know what it's called in other parts of the world though. Does that help?

שישה פלוס + said...

u r so creative i have to try it to 'looks great/

Julia said...

I made one and my daughter LOVES it!
http://www.filthwizardry.com/2010/03/iron-on-decals-from-plastic-shopping.html

anne said...

Wow! Seriously, wow! I have had cute bags I wondered what to do with before hubby makes me throw them away.... and I never came up with anything. You are creative beyond belief, tho!

Leaf and Tendril said...

This is so clever and creative! I would never think to try something like this.

Tamara said...

Used this idea of ironing plastic as inspiration for a bit of off-the-wall craziness and referenced you. If you'd like to check it out sometime, the specific blog post is at http://livinginlilliput.blogspot.com/2011/01/pixie-party.html only I made fairy wings. My toadstools on the same post were also inspired by yours - you are simply fabulous!!

Anonymous said...

great idea!!! thank's
Rosaria-Italy
www.apuntidicolore.splinder.com

Rechilda said...

These is really really great idea. I can never imagine that those plastic shopping bags can be turned to cute iron-on prints. I am a lover of iron-patches because they gave a personalized look on anything and usually am ordering them online at www.irononpatches.net. Your post is a great alternative.

Michelle, Muffin Tin Mom said...

wooooooooaaaaah. This is awesome!!

Hannah said...

LOVE THIS!!! I just tried it out last night! SUPER FUN!!! will definally be using again :)

http://thegirlintheheartglasses.weebly.com/

Anonymous said...

How inspiring! Thanks for sharing!

facebegone.co.uk said...

Hi, I just tried this today after reading abut it ages ago - was waiting for some nice bags to come along!
I also had the problem of it all sticking to the paper (I'm in the UK and using greaseproof paper which I'm not sure is the same as parchment?).
Anyhoo... I experimented a bit and tried with some kitchen foil shiny side down with the paper on top (seems you can't move the iron on foil!) and it sort of worked. As long as you let it really cool off for a while after you stop ironing it sticks to the fabric - you also get a really smooth shiny finish which is strange!
Also just to say I love your blog, such a lot of great ideas! Thanks

Kristy Tillman said...

Of COURSE I just threw some cool plastic bags away after keeping them forever, lol.
Does it smell like plastic while you're ironing it or afterwards?

Julie said...

Love this! I wanted some red white and blue to wear for a Memorial day parade but had nothing except my blue shorts and a new white shirt. I remembered this post and hauled out a red Target bag and used a Sharpie to draw a big (simple) flower and also cut out some white circles for the flower center and slapped it onto the top. I also cut out a cute ladybug from the red and used the reverse side of the bag (gray) to make the wing shape and slapped that onto the hip. Very boutique cute for zero additional cost. Love!

EleCat said...

This is the first post that I've read of yours and I am VERY impressed. :) I'll definitely be checking out the rest of your blog. Thank you.

Debi Gerhart said...

I am above and beyond amazed. Absolutely beautiful work and amazingly creative. Can't wait to try it for my girls.

Betsy Bargain said...

I can't believe you came up with this! Can't wait to try it. Ingenious!

Laurie Alves said...

Hi found a link to your post on Dollar Store Crafts. WOW !! You are a talented Mom. I am amazed at what you have found here! Can't wait to try it!
Laurie@ Food is Love
http://foodslove.blogspot.com

Julie said...

Wow!!! I love this idea!!! Have made two shirts already and my boys love them! Who would've thought!!! Very smart thinking! Thanks for the post!

Amy {The Red Chair Blog} said...

Brilliant! I think I may have commented on this post a few years back, but it deserves double kudos!! I also love your giant lollipop cards--so many clever ideas on your blog!

Alyssa said...

This is brilliant! Such a great way to get a "name brand" character on a t-shirt for free! I'm definitely tucking this away for the future. (and I pinned this too:)

Rachel McGuire said...

Brilliant idea for t-shirt iron ons. I would love to have you write a guest post for me on this sometime.. Let me know what you think Email me anytime my blog is at http://www.amomsrantings.com

Galina said...

Thanks been researching this without trying it now I think I'll go ahead and try!! Galina

Galina said...

Thanks for the post I think I can try this without totally messing the cool Disney bags I have. I'll post what happens if I get a chance.
Galina

Galina said...

Thanks! Galina

Rose :: Fine Craft Guild . com said...

genial indeed. i can t believe i find you only now.... amazing.
come link it up at our link party, so i will keep a record of your blog, and will have some really good sites to feature ';-)

4ofwands said...

Great idea. Tried this with wax paper. Bad idea. Stuck to the paper and not the shirt.

Tried it with something else (leftover sheet from heat and bond) and it worked as long as I waited for it to cool off before I pulled the paper off. No plastic smell.

purejuice said...

i'm so interested in the whole topic of upcycling for children's clothes. this is so creative, so awesome, thank you for being so clever and persevering to test out the ironing technique.

Woodduck said...

This is an absolutely BRILLIANT idea, brilliant! I've got to share your website! thanks so much.