Kicking back in your comfiest shirt or favorite pair of threadbare yet perennially stylish jeans can evoke the same type of feel-good endorphins as digging into a gluttonous, no-holds-barred sundae. (Well, almost.) As for the frayed edges, permanent tomato sauce splatters and kitten nail puncture wounds? They are all easy to remedy when your treasured clothing item is shrouded in a sleeved blanket “snuggie.” Wait a second, that kind of defeats the purpose. All of us have beloved items of clothing that have been around the block more than a few times and yet, because they evoke special memories or fit just so, we hang onto them despite their obviously battered-and-bruised appearance. While such raggedy duds would probably illicit the wrath of the fashion police, there is no reason why you should continue wearing them while hiding in a dark corner. Wear your favorite spotted, torn or otherwise inescapably marred fashions out in public once again by upgrading them with homemade image transfers gleaned from recycled plastic bags. This project is suitable for beginners and offers immediate fulfillment with minimal time commitment. Once you see how fast and easy it is to create your very own recycled plastic bag iron-ons, you will be so entirely smitten that your entire wardrobe will enjoy a totally revamped, renewed renaissance.

Necessary supplies

100% cotton clothing (T-shirts, leggings, skirts, shorts, etc.) Assorted colored and patterned plastic shopping bags Scissors Iron Parchment paper

A word of caution

Since you will be melting plastic bag pieces onto fabric with a hot iron — which will inevitably release chemicals into your household air — play it safe by opening a few windows for optimum cross-ventilation or by working on a flat surface outside. 

recycled plastic bag iron-ons

DIY process

1) Decide what image you want. Take advantage of the graphics already emblazoned on plastic shopping bags or flexible food packaging (such as sliced bread and produce bags) or search online sources for image inspiration. Whether you decide to cut out pre-existing pictures from post-consumer packaging or you end up creating your own images using various plastic bag pieces, the transfer process is quick and easy. 2) Arrange recycled plastic bag pieces onto selected garment. Carefully place key iron-on components directly onto your garment of choice. Once you are certain that you like your final design and arrangement, it is time to seal the deal. 3) Cover recycled plastic pieces with parchment paper. If a hot iron were to make direct contact with the recycled plastic bag pieces that you carefully arranged on your garment of choice, the material would end up melting directly onto the metal iron plate, resulting in a gooey mess that would likely mar your clothing item as well. Think of parchment paper as your iron’s longevity insurance policy. It will offer a layer of protection so that that your DIY appliqué bonds directly to your fabric rather than your iron. 4) Place a hot, dry iron on top of the parchment paper. Once your iron is properly heated (with dry heat rather than steam), permanently bond your plastic bag appliqué to the garment of your choice using even, steady pressure. You’ll be able to tell that your crafty fashion experiment is a resounding success when the plastic bag pieces melt into the fabric fibers, making it impossible to lift the edges of the image up with a fingernail. 5) For maximum enjoyment, wash garments inside out. While high heat is the sole reason why your new-to-you revamped fashion staple is once again looking spiffy, hot water can also wreak havoc on the integrity of the design and plastic bonding process. Either make a habit of laundering your face-lifted duds in cooler water, or just turn them inside out so they are spared unnecessary wear and tear.

Yes, the plastic bag transfer process works on other fabric items, too.

For a great gift idea, consider surprising an avid home cook with a set of matching kitchen towels and potholders enhanced with handwritten, iron-on sentiments. Similarly, fashionistas who seem to have everything will likely be giddy with excitement when you present them with a pair of personally designed, plastic-bag-tweaked cotton tights covered with hand-cut hearts, polka dots or random bits of rainbow confetti. Any old plain Jane cotton-based item is fair play, including tote bags, curtains, pillow covers, scarves, hats, etc.