Upcycle Old T-Shirts into Summer Totes

06 June 2013 | By

I recently whipped out all of my summery clothes and restructured my closet so my t-shirts and tanks were more accessible to me.  I even went through a few items that I realized I haven’t worn in the last 1 to 2 years and decided to donate them.  (I donate things I haven’t used in 1-2 years.  This is how I prevent my inner hoarder from coming out.)  Of course it’s hard to part with these cute items I once really loved.  I knew there had to be some sort of craft that would help me hang on to some of my tops that had some sentimental value to me.  I decided it would be super cute to have a cloth bag slung around my shoulder this summer!  This craft is super easy, no-sew,  and kids 9+ can make one also!

What you need

  • At least medium strength T-Shirt
  • Scissors
  • Safety pin

Choosing your T-Shirt

Think about the size of tote you want and find a shirt that matches that size.  More importantly, make sure the shirt you use has some strength to it and can carry heavier items that you might purchase from the store.  Lastly when choosing your shirt, note the shape of the neckline the shirt has.  That will be how the top part of your bag will look.

Creating the bag

Once you have your shirt selected, use your scissors to cut off  the sleeves and neckline of your t-shirt.

For the sleeves, you will cut on the inside of the seam, removing the seams from the shirt completely, yet hanging on to them to use as “thread” for tying the bottom portion of the bag.  When your sleeves are cut off, you will know you have done it right because you basically have created a tank top.

The neckline should be cut out the same way.  For deciding how much to cut, I recommend cutting the back or front of the shirt to match the deeper of the two necklines.  If the front of your shirt has a deeper neckline, I would cut the back of the shirt to mirror the front’s shape.

To create the bottom portion, find your removed sleeves and cut the hemlines away from the excess fabric making sure not to damage the hemlines.  The hemlines will be used as your “thread.”  The stronger they are, the better.  Once cut, attach your safety pin to one end and close it.  The safety pin will now work as your “needle.”

At the bottom of your shirt, find the hemline around the base.  In one spot, clip the hemline open, making a “tunnel” that goes around the base of the shirt.  This is where you will sew your hemline through the base of the shirt.  When you are sewing through the base of the shirt, any bunching up is good.  Be careful not to lose the end of your “thread.”  If you do, you will have to begin this step again.  Once you sew it through and the t-shirt is gathered and completely closed at the bottom, tie it shut and make a good knot to prevent unwanted opening in the future.  


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