How to make shoes out of recycled plastic

Written by marjorie gilbert
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How to make shoes out of recycled plastic
Recycle plastic shopping bags into shoes. (Getty Creative)

Perhaps you are a careful recycler who happens to like shoes. Why not combine the two and create something wonderful and good for the earth, all at the same time? Make shoes out of recycled plastic. For you, it'll be Earth Day every day.

Skill level:
Easy

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Things you need

  • Plastic shopping bags (exact number determined by you)
  • Scissors
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Parchment paper
  • Paper
  • Pen
  • Thread and needle or sewing machine
  • Glue
  • Soles for shoes

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Instructions

    Fuse the plastic together

  1. 1

    Collect a number of plastic shopping bags when you make shoes out of recycled plastic. The exact number is up to you, and depends on the thickness of the plastic you wish to fuse together. At a minimum, you should plan on having at least 6 layers of plastic. Any less, and you may find little holes can form when you fuse the plastic together.

  2. 2

    Use your scissors to cut straight across the bottom of each plastic bag when you make shoes from recycled plastic. If you cut just above the fold at the bottom, you'll only have to cut once along the bottom. Cut straight across the top of the plastic bag as well, just below where the handles begin.

  3. 3

    Cut along one side of each plastic shopping bag when you make shoes from recycled plastic. Open the plastic shopping bags and refold them so that the printed side of the bag is now inside. If some of the bags have designs on them you like, you can lay one clear bag on top of it so the design can still be seen. If you have the printed bag as your first layer, you can gum up your iron when you fuse the bags together.

  4. 4

    Lay a sheet of parchment paper on your ironing board when you make shoes from recycled plastic. Make sure the parchment paper is larger than the plastic bags.

  5. 5

    Place the layers of plastic shopping bags on top of the parchment paper when you make shoes from recycled plastic. Lay another sheet of parchment paper on top of the plastic.

  6. 6

    Set your iron on "rayon" when you make shoes from recycled plastic. Iron on top of the parchment paper for 15 seconds. Keep your iron moving and make sure you pay as much attention to the edges of the layers as the middle. You may find you have to adjust the setting of your iron to either a higher or lower setting. Turn the layers over, and iron the bottom piece of parchment paper for 15 seconds.

  7. 7

    Peel away the parchment paper to see whether the plastic has fused together when you make recycled shoes from plastic. If the layers come apart easily, iron a little more on both sides. If the layers have fused, gently remove the parchment paper from the top and the bottom of the layers of plastic shopping bags.

    Make a pattern for the shoes

  1. 1

    Make a pattern for the shoe you are making from recycled plastic. Start with a simple ballet flat style shoe, from which you can make a boot, or whatever you choose.

  2. 2

    Place your foot on the a piece of paper and draw around it with a pen when you make shoes from recycled plastic. Convert the traced outline of your foot into a rough oval shape. Add at least 13 mm (1/2 inch) to the oval for seam allowance.

  3. 3

    Cut out this shape with a pair of scissors; this will be your pattern for the shoes. If you like, you can create one more pattern piece so you will have one each for your left and right feet. Place the pattern piece on paper, trace around it and cut it out.

    Assemble the shoes

  1. 1

    Fold the fused plastic in half when you make shoes from recycled plastic. Lay your pattern pieces on top of the fused plastic. Trace around them with a pen. Cut around the traced lines with scissors.

  2. 2

    Decide where you wish to have the vamp, or the portion of the shoe that covers your toes, fall when you make shoes from recycled plastic. You can have the vamp be quite short to that it ends just behind the point where your toes begin. Or, if you would like to make boots, have the vamp fall closer to the middle of your foot.

  3. 3

    Measure your foot from the toe to where you wish the vamp to fall when you make shoes from recycled plastic. Write down this number and add at least a half an inch for a seam allowance.

  4. 4

    Lay out the four pieces of fused plastic on the table. Make sure you lay them out so that you have a top and bottom for the left and right feet. Transfer the marks of where the vamp will fall on the pieces of fused plastic that will be the top of the shoes. Cut the top pieces accordingly.

  5. 5

    Sew the top and bottom pieces together when you make shoes from recycled plastic. You can do this either by hand or with a sewing machine.

  6. 6

    Turn the shoes right side out when you make shoes from recycled plastic. Finish any raw edges by turning them over and sewing them in place.

  7. 7

    Put glue on the bottom of the shoes and affix the soles you have chosen. Glue and soles are available at shoe repair stores (see resources). Press the shoes onto the soles and remove any excess glue. Allow to dry for the time specified by the manufacturer. Enjoy your cool shoes made from recycled plastic!

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