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DIY: Upcycle a T-shirt into a Tote Bag

on Tue, 11/20/2012 - 12:27am

While many clothing items can (& should be) donated to help those less fortunate, there are over 2 billion t-shirts sold in the US every year. Clearly some of those should be repurposed into bags to help reduce 100 billion plastic bags that are used by US Citizens each year.


Ok, I hope I got your attention, now let’s start upcycling! The project does require sewing, but it is simple enough for a beginner to do.

Materials needed:

  • t-shirt

Note: kids or womens size small and medium work best for this project

Helpful to have:

  • sewing machine
  • pinking shears

Note: If you don't have a sewing machine handy, check out Beehive Sewing Studio + Workspace, the Pioneer Valley's first pay-as-you-go sewing studio.




Photo Tutorial: 
1. Grab a t-shirt that you no longer wear
Smaller t-shirts work best; Try using either kids or womens size small or medium
2. Grab some scissors
Lay the t on a flat surface and carefully cut off both sleeves and a slightly larger half circle around the collar.
3. Decide where the t-shirt design should go (if it has one)
Turn the T inside out, if you want design to show or leave it right side out, if you don't want the design to show.
  1. Sew a straight stitch across the bottom of the t-shirt, about 1 inch above the hem
  2. Repeat straight stitch a second time close to the first row to stregthen the tote
  3. Using pinking shears, cut the hem of the shirt, being careful not to cut through the new stitching
4. To make a wider bag, add a gusset
At each corner of the bag, pull out fabric on side and lay stitching flat in middle
5. Sew straight stitch
Repeat on opposite side
6. Completed tote with gusset
7. Turn your new tote inside out (so your stitching is in the inside)
Stretch handles on bag to curl raw cut t-shirt edges
Upcycled Knack Bagshare Totes

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