Valentine Garland from Plastic Grocery Bags

Despite the fact that I own eleventy thousand reusable grocery totes, I always end up with a pile of plastic bags. 
Crunchy, flimsy, entirely eco-un-friendly plastic bags. 
What to do? 
Hey, I know, here, let’s make a festive garland. It will look like those nifty crayon hearts but more gruff and tumble. Let’s make some hearts with rock n’roll soul! 
Materials
  • Plastic bags
  • Parchment paper
  • Tin foil
  • Iron (and a flat surface or ironing board

The amount of bags will depend on how thick you want your hearts. I started with 20ish (later  divided into stacks of 3). First, cut of the handles and trim off the bottoms –the end result will look like a big flopsy tube. Important: turn them inside out so the print faces inward and away from your iron or you will end up with a big ink mess.

Cover your surface with aluminum foil then sandwich three plastic bags between two sheets of 
parchment paper. 
Get your iron hot and go to town! Keep your iron moving around for about 15 seconds then lift up the parchment to see what you find. It could be melted to bits with tiny, lace-like holes; it could be thick and solid—results vary widely depending on the grade of plastic bag. 
Give it a minute to cool before you peel it away from the parchment. The end result will feel like a big plasticy potato chip.
*Note: I use the hottest setting on my iron because I like to get it good and melted. If you want flakey biscuit looking hearts, use the lower settings and check more frequently.
Cut out your hearts. Lots of them. It’s the same as cutting paper and it’s easy. Read: Get a kiddo to do it for you. I think they look pretty nifty as is, but if you want to string them into garland, read on!
Sewing the hearts by machine is super easy –just lay down a strip of tissue paper and stitch a solid line, randomly inserting a heart every few inches (the tissue paper will prevent the machine from snagging between the hearts).

Tear away the tissue paper from the hearts. I find this part oddly cathartic. 

If the tissue paper snags when you tear it away, try tightening the stitches.
I chose to tie my garlands on to an old tension rod and hang them in the window, but I think, after Valentines, I might try restringing them onto a lampshade or something. Or maybe cut them up further and string them into a necklace. Something funky.

Random: throw some tinsel bits in between the bags before you iron. The end result looks like confetti. Or spaghetti. Or something…


This is one of those projects that was a snap to make but difficult to photograph. My camera skills struggle to capture the light coming through each one of the hearts, each more red and luminous than the last. Winter mornings can be a real downer–these hearts are a welcome sight.


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Comments

  1. joanna Sacksteder says

    I’ve been reading your blog for a while, but this is the first time I’ve left a comment. I totally enjoy the fun valentine garlands, and the zest and pizzazz you bring to recycling/upcycling things. I confess though, my attention was stolen by your curtains. I love, love, love your curtains! Not even your awesome buffalo trophy could distract me from them!

  2. tracylee says

    woohoo! Target bags AND a handsome buffalo!
    What’s the word on the Valentine Swap? I’m in super-craft mode and wanna get started early!

  3. Michelle L. says

    Beautifulllllll, Peaches! Thanks for such a complete tute, I needed it, having never ironed plastic bags before. Genius use of target bags!

  4. Jamie Seibert says

    they look great hanging in the window like that! mr buffalo is awesome :) so when are we organizing this valentines swap?? i’m with lynne, soooo ready for it!! also, i’m still down to do a hunger games crafty linky party, maybe post about that on here and see who’s interested?! it would be too much fun.

    http://www.seeyoutheredesign.com

  5. Stacy says

    oh how beautiful! I have heard of ironing plastic bag shapes on t-shirts but I never thought of having them stand alone. Love Love Love it!

  6. Angela (Cottage Magpie) says

    Okay, I have to ask — have you shared the color of the pink paint in your dining room? Or would you? Bceause it’s the mostest perfectest pink paint ever.

    ~Angela~

  7. patti pultorak says

    Love this idea! This would even make a great garland for a Christmas tree!. And I love that little black and white striped bureau – dod you paint it?

  8. Maggie Bacher says

    we don’t have those thin bags here in germany, i can’t wait to tweak this for our thicker bags. wish me luck

  9. Anonymous says

    wow. now the possibilites are endless. I was thinking of doing different shapes and hanging them in a doorway in my daughters playroom. thsnks for a great idea. ..

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