T-shirt to Treasure

Ever look in your closet and realize, “Geez, I have way too many old t-shirts!”?  I had this moment earlier in the week when I realized I could barely shut my overflowing dresser drawer thanks to years of hoarding all kinds of t-shirts.  But in the spirit of the 3 R’s (Green Grounds’ holy trinity) and Springtime, I’ve decided to cull my dresser and find new uses for old things. My favorite t-shirt upcycle has got to be the reusable bag.  It’s simple, cute, and super-useful!  It works especially well with vintagey, cool old shirts that have a little wear and a lot of history.  I’ve got a Japanese Transformers shirt thats gotten too holey to wear, but the pattern will look rad on this bag.  Another neat thing about the bag is that the slits allow it to stretch around the food you put in, making it more flexible than conventional reusable bags and protecting your fragile produce from damage.

All the colors!
All the colors!

I’ve been trying to get my housemates to bring their reusable bags to the store more, but it’s easy to forget.  I have a theory that if we took the time to make the bags together and they were personal and unique, my housemates would psychologically be much more likely to remember to bring them.  Who knows if that’ll hold out but it’s a good excuse to spend a night crafting together!

So, without further ado, how to make your own awesome upcycled reusable bag!

Supplies: An old t-shirt, scissors, pen, ruler, and a sewing machine or needle and thread (you’ll need lots of patience for the latter)


1) Pick your tee and turn it inside out and fold it in half.  Using a pen, outline the shape of your bag.  It can be any size you’d like.  The U-shaped bottom of the bag will be inverted and curving towards the collar of the shirt. t-shirt-produce-bag-2 2) Cut through both layers of the tee to create a pair identical U’s.  You can keep or cut the hems. t-shirt-produce-bag-3 3) Align the two pieces and stitch all the way around them but leave the straight hem sides open.  This will form the pouch. t-shirt-produce-bag-4 4) To keep your bag from fraying, you can serge or apply a zigzag stitch to the edges. t-shirt-produce-bag-5 5) Use your ruler and pen to make dashes horizontally across the pouch of the bag.  Stagger the cuts (the way bricks are patterned) between the rows.  You can space them however you would like, but don’t make them too close or they could end up tearing into a single giant hole.  Woah: Leave four inches of space from the top of your bag (flat hem side) for the handle. t-shirt-produce-bag-6 6) Use your scissors to snip along the lines, and cut a longer line two inches from the top. t-shirt-produce-bag-7 7) Now strreeeeetch your bag! t-shirt-produce-bag-8 8) Done!  Washing and drying your bag makes the slits curl more which gives it a sweet, funky look. t-shirt-produce-bag-9-2 Isn’t it just begging for you to take it to the Farmers Market?


Thanks to Noor al Haqiqa at snippets-and-snappits.blogspot.com for the pictures and instructions!


Note: If you’re trying to find a use for all of the leftover t-shirt scraps instead of throwing them out, you can make a scrap rug, use them for pillow/doll stuffing, cover an old journal in it or make a journal cozy with the sleeve scraps to protect your writing, use them as hair ties, braid long thin strands into bracelets or headbands, or simply use them as washing rags around the house.  So many possibilities!

– This is a link for the scrap rug tutorial: http://www.our-everyday-art.com/2012/09/diy-handmade-rag-rug-tutorial.html

– This is the link for an idea of the journal cozy: http://www.cutoutandkeep.net/projects/fox-agenda-or-diary-cozy

– These are links for headbands and bracelets: http://www.jsonline.com/features/fashion/Old-T-shirt-becomes-DIY-headband-bracelet-230900631.html and http://www.makeit-loveit.com/2011/06/repurposing-tshirts-into-5-strand-braided-headbands.html




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