Ilivetolearn's Blog

Fusing Madness: tote bag tutorial


1. 25-50 plastic bags; white ones are best for the underneath layers, and ones with logos, picture, etc. for the top (design) layers

2. parchment paper


3. iron

4. sewing machine, thread

5. wide bias binding/quilt binding/grosgrain ribbon for top and handles



1. Fold bag flat and cut off bottom seam and handles; you can use it doubled as is or cut up one side and lay it out flat.

2. Layer 6-8 thicknesses of plastic on a sheet of parchment paper; the top layer can have letters, logos, pictures, etc. Cover with another sheet of parchment paper so the plastic won’t melt onto your iron.



3. Set iron to LOW–I use 3 out of a possible 7. You can always turn it up if necessary but if it is too hot to start you will get brittle, holey results.

4. Iron from middle to edges slowly; wait about half a minute and peel up the parchment to see if fusion is complete. Iron again as needed here and there.

After (close-up; note puckery look):


5. Turn the whole mess over and iron the other side.

6. Cut a rectangle the size of your desired bag out of the fused plastic. repeat for the reverse side of the bag. I do about 10-12″ (side to side) by 13-16″ (top to bottom) for book totes and 16″ by 12″ for grocery haulers.

7. Make more fused plastic for sides and bottom; for books I keep these relatively narrow (about 3″) and for groceries about 5″. Cut one bottom (the horizontal dimension of the bag) and two sides (the vertical dimension).

Pieces before assembly:


8. Sew front to bottom and then bottom to back, right sides together of course. Then sew sides in. The corners can get tricky but just power on through, feeding the plastic under the needle manually if necessary (feed dogs don’t do too well on plastic).

About to turn a corner:

img_1225After turning corner:


9. Turn bag right side out. Cut handles long enough to sling over shoulder (about 20-24″). Fold bias binding (or wide grosgrain) over raw edges of top of bag and zig-zag through all layers, inserting handles where desired.

Sewing binding with handles:

img_1227Reinforcement of handles on inside of bag:


10. Voila!


Other examples:




  1. step 1 – ok
    step 2 – you’re starting to lose me
    step 3 – ok
    step 4 – I’m out of the game (the machine; not the thread)

    Anyhoo (as Laura wd say) I LOVE seeing all the amazing bags you made – I like one more than the next !

    Comment by Vicki — April 17, 2009 @ 11:37 pm | Reply

  2. That is so clever! And it doesn’t appear to be too difficult. I like the variety of looks you’ve created, too.l

    Comment by Sarah — April 18, 2009 @ 12:29 am | Reply

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