I remembered reading about how you can make a sort of Tyvek-like fabric by ironing together polyethylene shopping bags, and decided on a whim to try it out this evening.
I don’t actually have many plastic bags, because I usually load my shopping straight into my cycle pannier bags, but I was able to rustle up three standard shopping bags from my supply for the exercise, estimating that six layers would be about right. I cut off the tops and bottoms of the bags so that they could be flattened out, placed the lot between newspaper, and ironed it.
I didn’t get exactly what I’d been hoping for—perhaps I need to experiment with temperatures other than the maximum setting I used—but I did end up with a fascinating, pleasing textile nonetheless, in a distressed, post-consumerist way. It has a texture similar to the fake-buffalo-hide vinyl used to cover some stage equipment.
The photo doesn’t really communicate it very well—the appealing texture doesn’t come across—but it’s the best I could manage. It would be really good for binding a notebook or something similar. I think it’s worth doing a bit more experimentation with layers and temperatures. And if I can find some bags slightly less obnoxiously ugly than the Tesco ones, that would also be good.