Mar 29, 2010

Plastic bag transfers update

Seems like a few of you are raring to give this plastic bag decals on clothing thing a go, so I thought I'd pop another example up here to give you some inspiration.

Sometimes the plastic can get a little warpy and shrivelly, so why not pick a subject that suits that effect? This is a pink lily that I put on one of my little girl's skirts. The petals are wiggly woggly anyway, so I was able to just freehand cut out and iron on bits of pink, white and green plastic bag until it looked about right, and then add little bits of black and yellow for the stamens in the middle.

It's a good idea if you are planning on adding little details to add them on top of other plastic, because you have a better chance of getting them to fuse properly to more plastic bag than to the textured material.

Lastly I want to emphasize that if in doubt that the plastic has fused well enough to the material then just keep ironing it with lots of heat and pressure. I've yet to ruin one of these by over ironing it. It would be much more frustrating to find that you'd under ironed it and it was peeling off later.

Do let me know if you have a go at this. Hope that it works out for you too :) Seems like a nice cheap easy way of getting a somewhat screenprinted look.


  1. These are lovely, Kitten Muffin! I think I will have to try this for Emma, we even have a Disney Princess bag I can use.

    I turn t-shirts into skirts, too, but I usually keep the bottom hem for the bottom of the skirt. Your idea of threading the elastic through would definitely save some time as it's easier to hem than to sew in elastic (and of course you *can* skip hemming altogether). Thanks for the tip!

  2. I did this last night and it worked great! Unfortunately, my paper punches couldn't cut through the plastic. No matter, scissors work just fine.

    Thanks for sharing your inspiration!

  3. I totally tried this, but the plastic kept on fusing to the paper instead of the shirt. Do you think it's because I used a cut up paper bag instead of parchment paper, or because I used a more textured shirt, or because of something else?

  4. Do you have a tutorial somewhere for the t-shirt skirts? That's an amazing idea!

  5. Wow! I love your blog and I share it on my facebook profile is it okay?


  6. Oooh, Christina, definately use the parchment paper. The plastic would totally stick to regular paper. You have to leave the parchment paper for a few seconds after ironing to cool before you pull it off as well, because the plastic really melts to goo and you want it to set again with the decal undisturbed before you pull the parchment paper off.

  7. For the difficult plastic bags ... maybe the "melting sandwich" could be reversed, so there is just a little less heat ... like so

    1) ironing surface
    2) parchment paper
    3) plastic bag pieces
    4) fabric RIGHT SIDE DOWN
    5) parchment paper

    if the design is complex ... maybe the pieces could be "tack melted" the regular way so they wouldn't shift

  8. You def need to sell these on Etsy !!! :)

  9. I'm with Becky - will you PLEASE (pretty please with sugar on top?) show us how to make a skirt out of t-shirts? I kind of have an idea of it in my mind, but since I'm so dense these days, I would really love some photos to make sure I'm thinking what you're thinking. :)

  10. I am so hanging out to give this a go .. totally love it! School holidays in a week, guess what I am going to try!

  11. My oldest dd (10yo) saw your blog today (while I was reading it) and has spent the day collecting plastic and T-shirts to use. We didn't have too many bags and after I made two shirts someone tore the remaining bag. Since I have three daughters this was a MAJOR problem. So we went on a hunt to find more plastic to use. All we could find was old foil ballons. I didn't think that it would work, but for the sake of the daughter that didn't have a "new" shirt I tried.

    I don't know how well they will wash, but the foil looks great!Much brighter than the plastic bags we tried. I guess that it is a good thing that I just couldn't throw those old balloons away! I see a lot of "new" shirts in our future!

  12. I have never heard of this. It is so amazing!! There are so many things I's love to try.

  13. I tried it yesterday. Brilliant! Blogged about it today with lots of links back to you.

    Thanks for these posts, KM. This is really cool.

  14. hnracademy: So cool to hear that the balloon worked too! We don't have any of those, but if I catch someone about to bin one, I'll be sure to grab it to try.

    Teacher Tom: Love your tshirt you made! I'm going to put a link in to your post here, so others can see it too!

    Teacher Tom's tshirt

  15. We did this with friends and really loved the idea, but they just didn't last. The edges would curl up so we ironed again and again and thought we had them on perfectly, but since the shirts stretch and the plastic doesn't, with wear they ripped and curled up and were all gone by the end of the day. We tried many different kinds of bags and the highest heat, too. Perhaps we're just too wiggly. :)

  16. Did you ever think of using some airbrush mediums over it to keep it from peeling off. It may keep it from coming off; they also have a medium to use before you apply airbrush paint also. I know you are using plastic instead of paint but might be worth a try. I think they even have just regular mediums in the acrylic paint departments of craft stores that could work instead of the airbrush mediums. Might be worth checking out. I just learned of your technique tonight but as soon as I read it; immediately thought of the paint application mediums for fabric painting that could possibly make a difference in the outcome and the possibility of making it last. If you want more info of what I am talking about; just post something on your site and an email that I can reach you at and would be happy to give you the actual names of all of the products I am making reference to. I will be checking back to see. You have some great ideas! Just say curly girl need some help.


Thank you for your comments.