This is by no means an original idea, but if you haven’t seen it, I thought it would be fun to make my own tutorial. If you’re anything like me, you have stacks of old t-shirts you don’t really like to wear anymore (because they’re so bloomin’ old!) but you can’t bear to part with them because of their sentimental significance. I just hate seeing them sitting there, unused and taking up space, so this is a quick and easy way to make them useful.
Start by laying your t-shirt out on a flat surface. Carefully remove the sleeves, and cut a portion from the neck area. You may choose to make it rounded (like my photo) or square, or any other shape for that matter. The remaining fabric will become the handles of your bag.
From here, you can choose to finish your bag one of two ways… one requires a sewing machine, the other doesn’t. For the no-sew version, cut two rings from one of the sleeves, cutting from the side with the raw edge. Then snip the rings so they become long strips, and stretch them out until they curl up a bit. These will become drawstrings to close up the bottom of the tote.
Now, back to the shirt. Make two tiny snips in the bottom hem of the t-shirt, being careful NOT to cut through the stitching. Your snips should be equally spaced… so make one in the middle of the front of the shirt, and one in the middle of the back. You’ll now have two channels in which to insert the drawstrings. Attach a safety pin to one end of one of the strings and guide it through one of the channels.
Then cinch it up and tie a bow.
Repeat on the other side… and voila! You have a finished tote bag! (Sorry, I forgot to rotate it and didn’t have to fix it!)
Now, with the no-sew method, you’ll have little holes in the bottom of the bag… it’s just the nature of the style. If you’d like the holes to be smaller, you’ll need more of them. That means more drawstrings, and more “hem snips”. Here’s an example of the bottom of a bag with two holes (the top bag), and one with three:
If you have access to a sewing machine, and don’t like having holes in the bottom of your bag, then do the following:
Form the handles of the bag the same way you did with the no-sew version. Then turn your shirt inside out and sew up the bottom. Be sure to sew above the hemline, which you will trim and discard.
To make a gusset (a flat bottom), “pinch” one of the bottom corners flat, and sew a seam about two or three inches in from the tip of the triangle.
Trim off the excess:
Now turn your t-shirt right side out, and you have another tote bag!
Sometimes, when you remove the neck or sleeves, you might cut off a design you like. Simply cut it out, and stitch it somewhere on the bag. The great thing about t-shirt material is that it won’t fray, so there’s no hemming needed. Here’s a design that I reattached on one of my bags:
These simple totes are perfect for reusable grocery bags, clothes shopping or beach trips, or anything else you can think of. I’ll be using several of them as gift bags for thank-you gifts for a few of our boys’ beloved Sunday School teachers: