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Project

T-Shirt Bag

Turning an old T-shirt into a reusable shopping or grocery bag is a simple, clever craft to help everyone be "green." 

Materials

  • Heavy-weight cotton T-shirt
  • Sewing machine
  • Medium-size bowl
  • Water-erasable marking pen
  • Scissors

Steps

  1. Step 1

    Turn T-shirt inside out and pin bottom of the T-shirt along the hem. Using a sewing machine, sew bottom of T-shirt closed. Flip shirt right side out and lay flat on table, making sure all seams are lined up.

  2. Step 2

    Place medium-size bowl about half-way over the neck hole. Using a water-erasable marking pen, trace along the edge of the bowl. Cut along the outline, making sure to go through the front and back sides of the shirt, in order to create an opening for the bag that's larger than what the neck hole allows.

  3. Step 3

    Line up the hems on the front and back side of the sleeve and cut, making sure to go through both sides of the shirt. Repeat on the other sleeve. Tip: A jersey shirt would also work well for this craft, as it is already sleeveless, and it's made of a great mesh material.

Source
The Martha Stewart Show, October October Fall 2007 2007

Reviews (85)

  • Sueqb 28 Jan, 2012

    Such a great idea! We have lots of t-shirts that don't fit or are from places we visited. In our area of Calif we have to pay for bags now even though I have always used my own shopping bags my husband doesn't. Now he will have something unique and cool to pack his groceries!

  • adidori 28 Jan, 2012

    Tha's haw I do it:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=27X4AMNetFU

  • 5Anderson 11 Apr, 2011

    This makes a perfect Earth Day project (10-13 year olds ) for school. The kids have their t-shirts sent to school - a nice mom volunteers to sew the bottoms. Kids get to do the cutting. Great sleepover bag! Will be doing this in class a 2nd year! Thank you for the great idea!

  • Litehouse88 4 Feb, 2011

    I made this but I used a tank top that was shrunk in the wash...I just sewed the bottom shut..A great bag for taking shoes or books washable and compact....I used a tank shirt that still had a lot of wear in it just shrunk...You can always use a favorite child's shirt as a toy carry all..That way they know who's bag belongs to what child...

  • ADS_Ginger 19 Jan, 2011

    Thanks for this frugal idea. I have shared it on my site with my frugalistas and they will love you for it.

    http://attentiondealshoppers.com/?p=4952

    I made a few tweaks to the instructions to reinforce the bag and a list of uses too.

    Thanks again!
    Ginger

  • franstuff 30 Dec, 2010

    This is EXACTLY what I have been looking for! Just a simple seam and a couple of cuts and you have the perfect market bag!! I can whip up a bunch for myself, and then start cranking them out for other people''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''

  • Mackfever 20 Sep, 2010

    If you want to watch the video jump it up to about 5 and a half minutes in, to get right to the craft..

  • KDahl 23 Apr, 2010

    Hi TheCaliforniaKid - Why not use HP Transfer paper and print out some iron ons that you can put on the t-shirt before making it into a bag?

  • KDahl 23 Apr, 2010

    Hi TheCaliforniaKid - Why not use HP Transfer paper and print out some iron ons that you can put on the t-shirt before making it into a bag?

  • TheCaliforniaKid 15 Apr, 2010

    I'm a member and the treasurer of a Star Trek fan club. I'm always trying to think of ways we of the club can recruit new members, or at least how to get the attention of other Star Trek fans, who are potentential new members to be. I think if I could make reusable bags with the club's name and a Star Trek phrase, it might do the trick. But how? I'm not good at sewing (have trouble getting thread to the eye of a needle) nor do I have a sewing machine.

  • Lindaet 17 Mar, 2010

    A volunteer for our Hospital Auilliary Thrift Store makes these T shirt totes. The customers love them and are pleased that shirts we can't sell still have a life.
    Reuse, Recycle, Rejoice

  • BUSYBEES 2 Feb, 2009

    This made a great project for our 4-H club. It was a wonderful lesson in reducing and reusing and the kids left with a useful finished product. We found that sleeveless shirts and sweaters worked beautifully, also! They are using their tote bags at the library, church, music lessons, and the beach. The parents keep a few on hand in the car for shopping. LOVE IT - a useful project in less than 10 minutes with a roomful of kids!

  • pink_toes 29 Jan, 2009

    I just tried this and it was sooo simple. Turned out really cute and worked great at the store. I was skeptical about it's strength and whether it would be too stretchy. No problem. I used a high quality shirt that had never been worn - it just wasn't the right size for anyone.

  • Tiara86 7 Dec, 2008

    I think this is an awesome idea. Im going to school for education and I added this as a project to one of my hypothetical lesson plans. In fact, I thought up the idea first, then googled it to see if anyone had already done it yet-and what-do-ya-know? =)

  • sodagirl 5 Dec, 2008

    Geez laurabanff why don't you keep your silly and impractical ( which you did spell wrong btw) comments to your self next time.We are all trying to do our part to reuse and recycle no matter how silly the ideas are at least they are productive and some of the most creative ideas I have seen yet. Maybe next time you could offer a "better" idea instead of a rotten comment. :P

  • sodagirl 5 Dec, 2008

    geez laurabanff Why not keep your silly and impractical ( which you spelled wrong BTW) to your self , we are all trying to do our part to reuse and recycle,

  • laurabanff 11 Nov, 2008

    I don't think this is a good idea at all - silly and impracticable. Not one that I would even try out.

  • MadeByJade 29 Sep, 2008

    I have made these for my daughters out of their old Volleyball T-shirts.
    I added a fabric linning with pockets. They can put their sweaty sports
    clothes and shoes in them. They are so easy to clean. They love them.
    This would be great for a team or coaches gift.

  • MadeByJade 29 Sep, 2008

    I have made these for my daughters out of their old Volleyball T-shirts.
    I added a fabric linning with pockets. They can put their sweaty sports
    clothes and shoes in them. They are so easy to clean. They love them.
    This would be great for a team or coaches gift.

  • ducky1313 11 Sep, 2008

    I have made these bags to give all the ladies in our family for Christmas. I was actually thinking I could use them as the gift bag and eliminate wrapping paper!
    My 3 yr old had a craft day with her friends to make these bags to use for trick or treating. (we used a childs x sm or sm). with spooky embellishments and glow in the dark paint, it will be a perfect accessory to any costume.

  • HappyHenry 10 Sep, 2008

    This is a great idea for helping the enviornment as well as finding interesting and usefull things to do with old "T's" I've bought the bags at my local grocery stores but they don't last very long. The seams break out first and the handles fall apart soon after. Thank you Martha for this easy and terrific idea.
    Happyhenry in Tucson

  • aletasullivan 5 Sep, 2008

    This is a great idea and I will share this with biology teachers and students far and wide. Check out this other bag crocheted from plastic grocery bags - I found this website while surfing for crochet shopping bag patterns.
    http://www.myrecycledbags.com/2008/07/19/the-ultimate-grocery-bag/

  • biddee 13 Jul, 2008

    This idea has solved an old-standing dilema of mine by using a couple of pretty, beaded Tee's that I just couldn't throw out or give away... I've customised them to suit the styles along with my needs and now I can rest easy knowing that not only have I helped the enviroment but have done so with such style to boot!

  • kickypants 15 Jun, 2008

    I'll finally be able to talk my daughter into giving up her favorite (but too small) shirts....she can use them to store her toys or for holding "show and tell" items for school!!

  • Mackfever 15 Jun, 2008

    Awesome Idea.. I can't wait to try this.. =)

  • bonniemilliken 7 Jun, 2008

    I made these wonderful bags w/ my granddaughters and they did a project of making them in Girl Scouts. Recent surgery has me carrying large envelopes of xrays

  • chick-a-bee 12 May, 2008

    I love this idea! I have canvas bags for my groceries already. So, instead of making bags with adult t-shirts, I used my childrens old small sports
    t-shirts and I put my produce in them.

  • Autsom 3 May, 2008

    Wonderful idea!! Looking forward to making a few and not to use plastic bags any more. Thanks!!!!!!

  • cdbaldwin 30 Apr, 2008

    what do you do to keep your meats or other cold stuff from leaking onto the fabric or through the fabric onto your car?

  • AzBammy 26 Apr, 2008

    This is the greatest idea since sliced bread. I ordered 4 of the bags and they are great. What a terrific way to use t-shirts/sweatshirts that we don't wear anymore. These are so much better than what the stores are offering. They're easy to care for and are easy to store in the car. Thanks for a fantastic idea....... BB

  • morgienyc 24 Apr, 2008

    this is the best thing to do whit old close me and my mom did it last night and there cute but at the same time helping so not many ppl can use bags that's bad thanks so much p.s i did it by hand not a good idea lol love-morgie

  • thisiskrissyray 24 Apr, 2008

    After watching you stamp the canvas bags on your show the other day this idea crossed my mind too. It's cool, I found this, "how to", on here today. Great minds think alike!
    Great Idea!

  • lindastratford 20 Apr, 2008

    I think this is the best idea every, not too much work, can be finished quickly, I also have some sweatshirts that no longer fit, so these will make very sturdy bags. I have found the bags that the stores sell don't all fold down very well and they take up alot of room. So t-shirts should be so much easier to store in my vehicle. LS

  • HelloGrams 20 Apr, 2008

    Thank You! This is a great tip.

  • CraftTestDummies 20 Apr, 2008

    One note: if your shirt is on the stretchy side, you might want to fuse on some iron-on interfacing to make it stronger....Jenny at CraftTestDummies

  • michellelee176 19 Apr, 2008

    These bags were so quick and so easy to make. I love the fact that I can use my old t-shirts and give them a whole new life. I made my family some of these bags for earth day gifts and they loved them.

  • cloud9design 19 Apr, 2008

    I love this idea! Keep the eco-freindly crafts coming!!! Great job!

    http://cloud9designstudio.etsy.com
    http://cloud9design.wordpress.com

  • heidibell 19 Apr, 2008

    Love the idea of using the t-shirts that accumulate in our drawers. Also cheaper than buying the bags stores have to purchase for groceries. Thanks!

  • LadyLatte 18 Apr, 2008

    I made 3 in no time and love them. I used my favorite tank tops so the neck opening was perfect and I didn't have to do any cutting! I am hooked! I will be unpacking my t-shirts from various travels and turn them into bags. Thank you so much for the idea! I am going to experiment with my baby's tiny shirts and turn them into lunch bags. Take a onsie, cut off the sleeves, turn it inside out, sew the arm and neck holes and have the crotch buttons as a handle! Oooo...I think I'll go make one now.

  • mewsicat 18 Apr, 2008

    I love the t-shirt idea for shopping bags! I can't wait to empty my drawers of all those t-shirts we never wear and make something useful! I will definitely feel I am contributing to "going green"! Thanks.

  • roccocooks 18 Apr, 2008

    I made 3 in 20 minutes. Did the extra seem that a previous posted described perfectly, hoping that they will "stand" better when full. I also used a sleeveless tee, they have the binding around the arms and necklines, and the neck was big enough so I didn't have to cut them for the handles. Such a wonderful idea!

  • BinaTina 18 Apr, 2008

    What a wonderful idea! Can't wait to craft these myself! They make great gifts too!!

  • PreciousIittleOnes 17 Apr, 2008

    cool great idea thaniks Martha lookinh forward to use it soon
    Danette

  • karlakrafts 17 Apr, 2008

    Just in time! I was agonizing over giving some of my favorite travel souvenir tees to charity. Now I'll make shopping bags!

  • sakon 17 Apr, 2008

    For all you runners out there, isn't this the best idea to re-use all those race T-shirts we've been accumulating? They are too memorable to throw out or give away, yet you can only wear so many t- shirts. All my bags are going to show a race that I've participated in, and I can even use the bags to carry around my runner gear! Thank you!

  • melissamrock 17 Apr, 2008

    You could make the bottom of the t-shirt bag flat, by matching the bottom seam (do one side at a time) with the side seam, then sew across the triangle that forms in the corner. This is done while the bag is still inside out. Do the other side the same way. Cut off the extra triangle corners, turn the bag right side out, and the t-shirt bag bottom should have a small flat bottom. The more of a "trangle" you sew across and cut off, the larger the bottom of the bag will be.

  • astridnaylor 17 Apr, 2008

    Love it ! And a kiddie t-shirt makes a great favours bag !

    Need more ideas like this .... am organizing a sweet sixteen garden party in June!
    ANA

  • debbyrd 17 Apr, 2008

    This is wonderful! I have several tee shirts that (ahem!) shrunk, so now I can recycle some of my favorites.

  • Lizaahw 17 Apr, 2008

    Great idea! Now when the net shopping bag I bought at my grocery store wears out, I won't have to buy another one. I wear t-shirts too work. Now I have a good use for the worn out ones.

  • ginakiwumi 17 Apr, 2008

    What a super idea!! I'm going to make a couple of these for my daughters to use at school!!! Great idea!!

  • tgroak 17 Apr, 2008

    This is an awesome project. Practical and fun!!! I love it. I made some for my little kids and they had a blast helping me make them. Thanks Martha!

  • seldahenry 16 Apr, 2008

    Wonderful and very useful idea. I really like it, and certainly make one or two. Thank you.

  • 1Toffy 16 Apr, 2008

    This is totally clever. Here in Calif we are going to all be using reusable bags fairly soon or paying for the plastic, or brown bags. What a great idea...so useable and not taking up much space in the trunk. Great Great Great.

  • Moski 16 Apr, 2008

    I smell Christmas presents!

  • sweetqweet 16 Apr, 2008

    I could use one of these when I just run to the store for a few items......
    When buying a big bill of groceries.....you will still have the plastic bags to re-use.
    Great easy idea. I love it.

  • kiergaddy 16 Apr, 2008

    I have so many unused t-shirts that I just can't get rid of (sentimental reasons). What a great way to get them out of my closet and put to use.

  • Donna89 16 Apr, 2008

    Great idea! You can put either a piece of cardboard or foam core at the bottom and reinforce it that way for milk,soda,juice, etc. to take the weight.

  • vrodoni 16 Apr, 2008

    I love this idea.

  • Mrs_Younger 16 Apr, 2008

    I love this idea. Only one question... if I'm not getting plastic bags from the grocery store, where will I get trashcan liners now? :P

  • cydfarrell 16 Apr, 2008

    Great idea to leave in the car for those unexpected times when you need a tote! They'll fit easily under the seat when I roll 2-3 and stash them inside another.

  • mom2acat 16 Apr, 2008

    You could also use one of the sleeves to sew a pocket on the back of the bag.

  • instinctual 16 Apr, 2008

    I loved this idea when I first saw it! And now I sell my own make! But the instructions don't say whether to keep the hem or not; I don't. It stretches better that way.

  • JRTipton 16 Apr, 2008

    AQnother idea for all my old college t-shirts, instead of making a quilt.

  • mamabera 16 Apr, 2008

    i love love love this project! i've made a few already. they hold so much! i can clean out my whole van with one bag....and that's saying something!

  • Grandypink 16 Apr, 2008

    Super ideas! If the sleeves are big enough, I think I would sew the seams together and use it as a dusting mitt.

  • junet 16 Apr, 2008

    I used the same idea as "eveapple" did with the waterproof lining, and the grandkids use their bags for going swimming. A towel and suit fit in, they store their outer clothes in the bag while swimming, then bring the wet stuff home in their t-shirt bags.

  • HappyHoneybee 16 Apr, 2008

    These are great Teacher's gifts. If your school has a mascot T-Shirt, use that as your base. We used plain Tees and the girls wrote a message on the front for the teacher. The teachers loved them! (Grades 1-5).

  • GinghamPinwheel 16 Apr, 2008

    A school in the mid-west calls their program "Ts for Trees" and have bee4n making these in FACS for about 6 years. I have used t-shirts as pillow cases abd bags for sleeping bags. Pillows are less likely to get really dirty in the car or on a camping trip. Turn inside out, sew up arms and neck, sut off any excess, turn right side out and off you go!

  • emmakrazy 16 Apr, 2008

    Oh I just love this craft. My hubby has more tees then I know what to do with. This is perfect and I let my kids know too.

  • Lorzie 16 Apr, 2008

    I also use old T-shirts to make throw pillows for my son's bed. When he out grows a favorite T-shirt I make a pillow out of it so he gets to keep it even though it doesn't fit him anymore.

  • diflan 16 Apr, 2008

    I don't have many T's, and the ones I do aren't very strong anymore, but I do have a bunch of old polo shirts and nursing scrubs that I think this may work for as well! I love all these new "green" ideas!

  • designerjulie 16 Apr, 2008

    Great idea! Would be even better and stronger if you ironed on some fusible interfacing to the back of the t-shirt. I do this for t-shirt quilts that I make for friends who have kids graduating from high school. It's easy to do and gives good stability to the t-shirt fabric.

  • GypsieAnn 16 Apr, 2008

    I make bags from old blue jeans. I cut the legs off to use as straps. I embellish them with beads and buttons and lline them with colorful fabric to be used as purses. Without the embellishments they make great grocery bags because they are so sturdy.

    Annie

  • sherlene 13 Apr, 2008

    Love it!

    How will you make the scarf out of the sleeves, BTW?

  • bellem 11 Apr, 2008

    I saw this great idea on the show and couldn't wait to put it to use. My I sewed the bottom of the shirts and my husband cut off the arms and neck. We are the hit of our grocery shopping trips. One of the baggers thought we handed him a pile of laundry until we showed him that they are bags for our groceries.

  • Jaspar 24 Feb, 2008

    I love this idea. I have made 3 so far. My son came home one day with a [filtered word] in the middle of his shirt. I patched it up with one of the sleeves before turning it into a bag. These fit great in my purse. Now I want to make a scarf out of the sleeves that I cut off.

  • ConnieLyn 8 Jan, 2008

    What a great grocery bag. Now I don't take the store's plastic which is great for our country. Thankfully I have gone from an extra large to a medium T shirt and night shirt. I have volunteered to make many more for my Fibromyalgia support group members. Next I am going to Good Will to get a bunch of children's Ts to make for the low income senior citizens retirement center. At 60 I'm new to homemaking so this is great for me as it is a lot of production for little output in time and money.

  • eveapple 7 Jan, 2008

    I love this idea. I lined mine with some PUL fabric (used for cloth diaper covers) to make it waterproof. What a great use for old tee's. I also appreciate a craft that isn't too materials intensive; one that we can accomplish right away!

  • annielearning 7 Jan, 2008

    Cool idea as I grow in and out of t-shirts constantly. I really do not like "collecting" all those plastic bags at the grocery store, so, off to the machine this afternoon. Tks.

  • elinkamil 5 Jan, 2008

    new design for this new year, helps me to teach my students in art class.

  • JaimeeDrew 3 Jan, 2008

    I made one too- very practical. I sewed cotton seam binding to reinforce my seams since I don't have a serger. Fun idea for unwanted t-shirts and a great way to avoid using plastic bags.

  • Viollettt 30 Dec, 2007

    This has to be one of the best ideas I've seen in a long time to help the environment. I get many t-shirts and this is a great way to show them off without having to actually wear them.

  • miabella 21 Dec, 2007

    cute idea and way to help the environment

  • inger_land 5 Dec, 2007

    If you have a serger, you can serge all cut edges to reinforce them. You could aslo straight stitch two 3-4" seams perpindicular to the bottom seam to give the bag gussets.

  • sho_es 3 Nov, 2007

    great idea. another use for all those not so flattering t shirts everyone seems to have