Fusible Plastic

Here is what I love and kind of hate about plastic bags. They’re really hard to manage: they take up a lot of room, float around without much encouragement and they’re just annoying, but that makes it fun to deconstruct them and turn them into something else. Fusible plastic, for example.

What you need:

At least 8 bags, but I recommend more in increments of 8- try to get some extra more colorful bags too

Iron

2 long pieces of parchment paper

Of your eight, the majority should be grocery bags or at least the same kind of bag. For my latest run, I used a kitchen bag in the middle because I wasn’t sure how it would compared to others and it still worked out pretty good. That set might have been my best.

Take each bag and fold it down neatly, so all the edges are tucked in. Cut off the seam on the bottom and the handles.

Cut down the side, so you can open it up and lay it flat. Do this with all eight of your bags.

Lay down one sheet of parchment paper and lay down your bags on top. For me, it’s impossible to make all the bags even, but just do the best you can. Make sure if your parchment paper is too short that you’re bags aren’t hanging off the side. Then add your second piece of paper. Also, be prepared for a little bit of a mess because sometimes the ink will melt.

I think the iron does best if it’s set on rayon or the 5 or 6 setting. I would rather you start on too low a setting and work your way up than start too high and ruin the plastic.

The plastic bags can easily get out of line, so the best way to start is melt one end and then work your way over. Once you finish one side, turn it over and work on the other side.

Keep the iron moving constantly. I mean constantly. The plastic tends to shrink and at first I thought I was doing it wrong, but as I kept ironing, I noticed that it was giving the solid feel I was going for. If you can feel the separate layers, you need to keep going.

Before you sew anything, decorate your bag with whatever cute plastic bags you have leftover. These will melt pretty quickly so don’t leave the iron on there for more than a few seconds at a time or you can sew your decorations on. Once I got a method down, I had better luck melting. Mostly I had to work with Wal-Mart bags, but since I hate Wal-Mart,  I did my best to cover up it’s name. For the second time, I just cut the Wal-Mart out and stacked the bags, so the hole wasn’t in the same spot for each bag.

There are tons of things you can do with this fusible plastic. I sewed up the sides, melted  some thing scraps to make handles and made a reusable bag. Because so much of my plastic didn’t turn out the first time, I didn’t have enough to make another one, so we made a pencil pouch.

Fold the bags in half and sew up the sides with right sides together. Then turn the bags inside out.

Fold the bags in half and sew up the sides with right sides together. Then turn the bags inside out.

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The material is waterproof and extremely sturdy, so it would make a great beach bag. If you really wanted to. you could sewed it as a lining on a cute bag. These are just the simple things you can do, but there are plenty of awesome ideas that I want to do someday.

Raincoat: Yes, you read that right.

Wallets

Shoes!

Crocheting Plastic Bags

Like I said, I’ve become addicted to crafting with plastic bags. There is just so much you can do with them and they’re such a nuisance, it just fits.

Let me start by saying, I’m a terrible crocheter. If I had been a mother when crocheting was popular, my kids would have probably been beat in the school yard and then left to freeze. Luckily, plastic bags weren’t around back then, so they’d at least have that going for them. And even luckier, I don’t have kids now to put through that experience. The good news is I am getting better. I tried to learn a few months when I wanted to make a rug out of crocheted bags, I still have that unfinished, but then I was inspired by the bag below, which my grandmother made me for my birthday.

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It has a pocket and a place to hold your keys.

I’m sure you understand my motivation. It’s amazing. Here is the pattern, if you’d like to make your own. She tried to teach my aunt and I, but I wasn’t catching on very quickly, mostly because the stitches all seem the same and it’s like ‘Make two double stitches. OK, I can do that.’ Fifteen minutes later, “OK, I did two. What, I did all that and I only did one?” That and keeping the tension was difficult. Needless to say I didn’t retain anything I learned that day, so I decided to practice with something else.

I found this video:

Here is Part 2 and Part 3. Watch the video to make sure because what she calls single stitches seem to be something else.

Beautiful, right? This video allowed me to watch the same thing over and over without anyone’s patience being at risk, get the stitches down and practice, practice, practice.

It took me about 8 hours to do what she does in like 20 minutes, but I did finish and that’s what is important.

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This flower isn’t great, but I will say it looks better than it does in the pictures. I took a million and it still looks like a hot mess, but it does actually have stuff resembling petals. It took me almost two bags to finish.

Now I’ve learned enough to be able to make some of the bubbles for the bag. Slowly, but surely I guess. And I’ve picked up some crocheting magazines for patterns to do later. There is so much inspiration out there. If you’re not a seasoned crocheter, I would suggest you start with yarn first, make the flowers then make the flowers with the bags, then find something slightly harder then work your way to the bag.

Anyway, have fun, don’t be too hard on yourself and be creative! Feel free to let me know what you’re working on!

Resoluting

It’s that time again. It’s hard to believe that I started this blog a year ago. It never got to the point that I wanted that point where I would call it a success. That’s a bummer, I won’t lie, but I learned a ton. I’m not sure the future of this blog, but I think it’ll be what I first meant it to be and that was a upcycling DIY blog, but we’ll have to see. For now I’d like to say thank you to all the people who have been following me through the good and the bad, the positive and negative. And to my mom who read even the crummiest of posts and who made everything I’ve done possible.

And so it’s time for my favorite time of the year, New Years. The time that makes me feel a bit hopeful because it makes me feel like if I really try, I can make the change I’ve always wanted to. Last year I wanted to be able to run a 5k. That soooo did not happen. It’s pathetic, but I’ve got a new plan. And I did make it through the apocalypse, so that’s something.

This year I will make the following resolutions:

  1. I will only have one Dr. Pepper. I need to explain this. I didn’t actually resolute to not drink soda, and it’s not like I drank it all the time, but maybe a couple a year or so, but I wanted to be healthier and stop supporting evil corporations and it just kind of happened. I may have had a few sips here and there, but it was so long ago and since I didn’t actually resolute, I don’t know for sure if I ever had one or not, but I’m pretty sure a full pop bottle was never in my hand. For the last few months, I’ve been craving my poison of choice like something terrible and it’s been EVERYWHERE. Every family occasion, every junk food machine (luckily, when my willpower just happened to slip, I never seemed to have any money), every party, everywhere I turn it’s been there just within my reach. I was so close and I had been so good for so long that I just couldn’t give up the willpower. So this week or maybe when school starts, whenever I get a chance that poison is mine, but then that’s it. For another year.
  2. I’m not giving up on my dreams of being able to run a 5k. I’ve tried several programs and one of two things happens. A, there are too many people at the gym and just can’t get up the courage to look like such a loser. Or B, I start to run and then I realize how much of a loser I am because I can’t even make it to the certain point before I start gasping for air, so I just quit before I give too many people a change to notice. I don’t have enough patience with myself and I need to get over it or I’ll never be able to run a stupid 5k.
  3. Ride my bike more. There are a few reasons why I don’t ride my bike everywhere. I won’t bore you with them, but I’m hoping to find some answers out there on this great World Wide Web.
  4. Write down every good thing that happens on a piece of paper and put it in a jar. I’ve seen this idea floating around. It’s kind of cheesy, but kind of cool. I don’t know if I’m going to be able to keep up because every time I get a monthly, weekly, daily calendar I can’t even keep up with flipping the thing, but that’s what new year’s is about…trying new things. Then at the end of the year, you take out all of the notes and read them all.
  5. I think…I’m going to keep a journal. I’ve never been able to keep up with it and I’ve never really wanted to, but I think way, way too much and instead of just keeping those thoughts locked up tight, I think it would be healthier to at least get them out somewhere. Plus, I think it will help me get out of deadening writer’s block rut.

I do hope you guys have a happy New Year and feel free to leave a comment about your resolutions.

Happy Holidays

Yesterday was Christmas. Yesterday it snowed. My family had a lovely day and last weekend we saw my mom’s side of the family, which was great. Since I’ve started this journey, I’ve gotten nothing but support from my family. I’ve learned so much over the past year about the environment and about appreciating my family. All of them, make me want to do better. Be more creative, to work harder to do things even though they’re less convenient and to just generally carry on even though I don’t think it makes much difference, which is the hardest thing for me to do.

This weekend was full of upcycling and crafting while keeping the environment in mind.

We made reindeer ornaments out of corks.

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And bottle cap ornaments…out of bottle caps, which we had to cram seven people into a bottle cap size circle to go into the bottom bottle cap. We haven’t exactly finished that.

Everyone, even the guys, were totally on board with these crafts, which is interesting because when my aunt and I try to get them to do stuff at home it doesn’t work out quite as well. But there they were like Martin Stuarts!

I got a solder from my grandma and an awesome upcycling books book from my aunt.

My great aunt made me a lamp from a glass coke bottle that she found in the lake and popcorn bucket from the theater (I don’t think it was used).

028 And she made adorable bird feeders for my mom and aunt made from terracotta and old license plates.

My mom got me cruise control added to my car, which is a gift that keeps on giving and a ‘keep it green’ shirt  and more love than one could ever hope for.

I appreciate all the effort my family goes into caring about the things that I care about.

Seasoning Mixes DIY

As most people know, health is a gift that just keeps on giving. Giving homemade seasoning mixes, without all the chemicals usually in traditional mixes, is one easy peesy way to do just that.

You can find different versions, but I found these four from the Mountain Rose blog. They also sell the spices and things for all of these mixes.

Taco Mix:

1/4 cup Chili Powder
1/4 cup Cumin Powder
1 tablespoon Garlic powder
1 tablespoon Onion powder
1 teaspoon Oregano leaf (or oregano leaf powder)
1 teaspoon Paprika with 1/4 cup Himalayan salt or sea salt (optional)
1 teaspoon ground Black Pepper

To make: Put all in jar and shake well or mix in a food processor until mixed. Store in an airtight jar for up to six months. Makes approximately 1 cup. To use: sprinkle on ground beef or chicken as you would any store bought taco seasoning. 3 tablespoons is the same as 1 packet of store bought taco seasoning.

Ranch Mix:

1/4 cup dried Parsley leaf
1 Tablespoon Dill leaf
1 tablespoon Garlic Powder
1 tablespoon Onion Powder
1/2 teaspoon Basil leaf (optional)
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

To Make: Mix all ingredients together in jar or food processor. To make into Ranch Dressing, mix 1 Tablespoon of this mix with 1/3 cup Homemade Mayonaise or Greek Yogurt and 1/4 cup Coconut Milk.

Chili Mix:

1/2 cup Chili powder
1/4 cup Garlic powder
3 tablespoons Onion powder
1/4 cup Oregano leaf
2 tablespoons Paprika powder
1/4 cup Cumin powder
1 tablespoon Thyme leaf

To Make: mix all ingredients and store in an airtight container. 1/4 cup of mix = 1 package of store bought chili seasoning.

Pumpkin Mix:

1/4 cup Cinnamon powder
1 teaspoon ground Ginger
2 teaspoons Nutmeg powder
2 teaspoons Allspice powder
1/2 teaspoon Clove powder (optional)

To Make: Mix all ingredients and store in airtight container. Use as you would regular pumpkin pie spice. Great in pumpkin cheesecake,  pumpkin pie, spiced pumpkin lattes or coconut flour pumpkin muffins.

To add a little flare, fold a piece of card stock paper or possibly some old Christmas cards in half and staple it on a Ziploc bag. Just make sure you staple above the zip and not below.

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Friendly Inspirations

A couple of days ago, my best friend called me and she needed help with her speech paper. She said she had been inspired by my upcycling projects. I’m completely flabbergasted. To know why you’ll have to know a couple of thinks about her and our relationship.

There are a couple of things you should know about my friend.

One- we’re almost polar opposites. As far as similar interests or personalities go, we are really not the same at all. She’s positive and I’m….not. She sees the best in people and I…don’t. She’s a drama major, which should tell you that she’s super outgoing and I am….not. The fact that she’s outgoing and I’m not is where I think we’ve always kind of had our bumpy places. I’m  content with just being and she always has to be busy, to be doing something and it frustrates her when she wasn’t. I thought when we went to our separated colleges that honestly I wouldn’t hear from her much after that. It always frustrated her that I wasn’t more outgoing or something and I figured she would find people who were more like her and that would be the end of that.  But that was 2 or 3 years ago and while we don’t talk a lot, I think we’re better friends because of it. I’ve worked on trying to talk more, but I think she has learned to appreciate our differences more, too.

Two- We both love to read. Not the same books, of course, but still it’s something. We both like, somewhat, the same type of movies. I’m more open-minded about what I read and what I watch. I like more action type stuff and she likes more fantasy type stuff, but it doesn’t kill me to watch it. We both loooove chocolate…and dessert. I think that similarity is what held us together all these years.

Three- She loves it when I write her notes. I have always loved to write, but I never considered it as a career until recently. I would usually try to curb it back to one page, but sometimes it was more. I didn’t write anyone else because no one really appreciated them. Writing sometimes brings a somewhat quirky personality out of me and I don’t think a lot of people appreciate it. At first I thought she didn’t like them or care about them because she never wrote back, but later I learned it was because she didn’t like to write. I didn’t know that because she was always so smart and wrote such good papers. And also because I loved to write with every fiber of being and I couldn’t imagine anyone could not like to write. But she loves my notes and she may be the only person in the world who likes my writing. I would love it if she wrote back, but oh well. I don’t write notes on paper any more. I would if we saw each other every day, but instead I send them on Facebook.

Four- She never judges me because of my negativity or cynicism or strong opinions.  People are always telling me that I shouldn’t think a certain way and that I should think that the world is just a bowl full of sunshine and butterflies. I tried to change the way I thought, but it never did work. Partly because I didn’t see anything wrong with having a different perspective. I saw it as honesty and people didn’t like it because they didn’t want to see it. I haven’t told her the worst of it, but I’ve come pretty close. She doesn’t always agree with me, sometimes she does and sometimes she tells me a different way of looking at it, but she never says that I’m a horrible person because of it. Which is such a relief. I don’t want to feel the way I do, but it is what it is and I can’t or won’t change my perception just because it’s hard to deal with. Sometimes I feel as if I’m a bad person because I won’t accept people’s standards. The world should be better. We should be better. She doesn’t make me feel bad. And at this point when I feel more negativity for humanity than I ever have before, this is what I appreciate about her the most.

Five- I mentioned that she’s an extreme busy body. In high school she was in just about every extracurricular ever, except for sports. She was president or secretary or VP or something of most clubs. In college, I think she narrowed it down to mostly theatre or drama type things. She’s also extremely smart. Like straight A student smart. Sometimes I feel a bit unaccomplished, to say the least.

The other day, she called and asked if I would help her with a persuasive speech. She wanted to do it about…..upcycling. She never reads this blog, she hates news and she usually reads for pleasure, so I never expected her to want to read it. Sometimes I post my crafts on pinterest, so she’s been seeing them. I don’t talk to her that much and when I do it’s rarely about anything to do with this blog because I know she’s not interested, so I had no idea that she would be paying attention. She has always recycled and kind of in the environmental thing even before I was, but she does it because she knows it is the right thing and not because she knows all of the science behind it. Anyway, I definitely wasn’t expecting it, but I gave her some resources. I don’t know if she used them, but it got her started.

I’m mostly astounded because she’s never asked for my help with anything. She’s very independent. But she also asked me to listen to her informative speech about the color run.

She said I inspired her to write about upcycling because of my love for the environment and just because it’s cool. I’ll have you know that I haven’t inspired any one in my whole life, least of all her who is almost perfect in every way. So yes, I’m feeling pretty proud of it.

I hope you have a good day!

Polka Dot Hanging Jewelry Organizer

You need:

A frame- if you want to do the polka dot effect then try to find some thicker frames. Mine are made from baseboards that I found while I was garage saleing. Just for the record, they were not for sale, but I saw them in the dumpster and I asked if I could have them. After an odd look she let me have them. If you’re not lucky enough to happen upon some baseboards then a frame from a thrift store would work or if your handy with wood then you could make your own.

Bottle caps- it will depend on how big your frame is, but I used 18 for my 8 x 10 frame. If you go ask restaurants they’ll usually give you some if they have them. It may take a couple times; persistence is key.

Spray paint-whatever color you want

Sandpaper- the spray paint doesn’t stick very well to the caps unless you sand them first. I’m not sure what kind I used, but it was pretty coarse.

Nails and Hammer- However many you want- I used 20

Hot glue and stapler

A fruit net bag- I’ve seen them used as bags for oranges and other types of fruit.

Magnets-optional

Want more ideas? Check out my DIY page.