Upcycle Plastic Grocery Bags Into a Colorful Tote

Don't toss those plastic bags, reimagine them into a handy tote bag that's cute and waterproof, to boot.

Final Of Plastic Bag Made Into A Designer  Looking Bag With Leather Straps


Final Of Plastic Bag Made Into A Designer Looking Bag With Leather Straps

Photo by: Johnson Giles

Johnson Giles

Related To:


plastic bags – we used white, blue, green and coral
sewing machine
polyester thread
leather straps
parchment paper
heavy-duty permanent glue


Prep Bags

Smooth out white plastic bags and cut off the handles and bottom seam. Cut away any wording on the bag’s front.

Fused Plastic Tote Bag

Photo by: Johnson Giles

Johnson Giles

Create Fused Material

Lay parchment paper sections on a large, flat, hard surface. Tip: Ironing boards tend to leave grooves in the fused plastic so a hard surface is best. Open up two bags and place on the parchment paper with the bags slightly overlapping in the middle. Layer two more bags over these (Image 1) and completely cover with another sheet of parchment paper. With iron on low setting, start in the middle and move the iron in a back-and-forth motion over the parchment while the plastic fuses below (Image 2). When one section is done, adjust the parchment paper and move to the next section, fusing plastic below. Flip fused bags over, cover completely with parchment and repeat ironing process to ensure full adhesion. Repeat this layering and ironing process 4 times with white bags to make 4 thin layers of fused plastic ‘fabric.' To create a stronger tote, fuse 2 of these thin layers together using the same technique as above to make a thicker piece of ‘fabric’. Flip over to make sure all the plastic has fused together. You’ll end up with two large approximately 21x16 pieces of white fused plastic.

Add Color and Pattern

To dress up the white material, cut wavy strips of blue and green plastic bags a bit larger than the white. Lay them in a random pattern (Image 1) and fuse to the white using the same technique as above. Trim the material to 19”x15” (Image 2).

Create a Pocket

Fuse together 5 colorful bags (we used coral) to create a pocket. Cut the fused plastic down to 6-3/4” x 4-3/4” and sew to the inside to create a clean hem. Sew to the outside, middle of one piece of blue/green ‘fabric’ (Image 1).

Adding a Pocket To The Front Of The Bag In A Nice Coral Color

Fused Plastic Tote Bag

Adding a Pocket To The Front Of The Bag In A Nice Coral Color

Photo by: Johnson Giles

Johnson Giles

Assemble Tote and Add Straps

Place both pieces of blue/green ‘fabric’ inside out and sew three edges together. Fold top of bag inside and sew to create clean hem. Glue strap bases to bag’s front and back using a low-VOC heavy-duty glue. Add clothespins to clamp handles in place and allow to dry. Finally, hand-stitch handles to bag with coordinating thread (Image 1). Note: The straps we used had punched holes to make this easy.

First Use Glue Then Hand Sew Straps Onto Bag

Fused Plastic Tote Bag

First Use Glue Then Hand Sew Straps Onto Bag

Photo by: Johnson Giles

Johnson Giles

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