I started out by folding a bunch of the bags, longwise, and placing books on them to help flatten.
After several weeks, I had people over and needed to clean, so had to finally DO something with them or give up the project. So I wove several together, and then pulled out the iron.
I was overly cautious, at first, and used an old towel to protect the iron (or maybe it was the bags) from the heat, and had the heat on low. I quickly figured out that those bags were NOT going to fuse or melt unless I kicked the heat up a bunch. I kept turning the heat up, placing the towel on the section I wanted fused, and then placing the iron on it for 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 seconds.
I kept weaving more bags into the "fabric" and fusing (melting) with the iron. After I got about a 3'x1' panel all fused, I looked at it and thought, "now what?".
Umm....so yeah, I hadn't really thought it all the way through. "Ah, ha! A bag! I'll make it into a cute little beach bag!" I thought.
I folded the "fabric" in half and added another bag to each end to act as the joining piece, then went back to towel, iron, count, check, repeat.
I used scissors to try to even the top all the way across, and then realized that I still needed to figure out handles. By then, I had spent almost 2 hours on it, and was getting tired and frustrated, so decided I'd line the bag with cloth and sew the handles to the cloth part of the bag.
My sewing machine isn't cooperating so I took everything over to Mom's to use her fancy stuff. When I got there and started explaining what all I wanted to do, everyone looked at me like I had turned purple and sprouted horns. I looked at them, I looked at what I had already done, and I made a decision.
From now on, I am just going to take those shopping bags back to Walmart and put them in their recycling bins. This was NOT worth all the effort.
Total cost = Iron burn
Total time = 2 hours
Outcome = Dud