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recycled t-shirt totes

I first came across the t-shirt tote on a blog months ago. Can’t remember exactly which one, sorry. I thought it was so cute but that was BSM (before sewing machine).

I’ve had my machine out working on these drapes and these drapes this week.

I also have a stack yea high of t-shirts that my daughter has outgrown. And who doesn’t need tote bags?

Well, living in Canada you definitely do. Most stores here charge a nickel per bag. Grocery Stores? yep. Clothing stores? most of them. So everyone here just brings their own bags when they shop.

I have to say at first I wasn’t too keen on this but I’m learning to embrace being less wasteful. Especially given facts like this:  Plastic shopping bags are typically used less than 30 minutes and only 1% are recycled. The average American adult uses approximately 288 bags a year, or 22,000 in an average lifetime… Yikes. It’s such a small thing but it can make a big difference.

Back to the tote bags.

These are super simple to make.

Step one…cut the arms off of the t-shirt. Be careful to cut on the outside of the seam…the handles will be stronger with the seams.

Step two…cut a semi-circle out of the neck.

Step three…turn the t-shirt inside out and sew a seam along the seam that is already at the bottom. Then make a second seam over the first to make the seam really strong.

That’s it…three steps that take less than five minutes. Easy Peasy.

But wait…there’s more! I decided to use the piece of t-shirt that was cut out of the back of the neck.

I rolled it up and made rosettes following the tutorial here. Obviously, there is not as much fabric here as in the tutorial. Same idea though.

Much cuter, huh? My daughter and her friends are gonna flip over these! I’m going to make a smaller version to use as her lunch tote.

I wondered if I could make a tote out of a polo shirt as well…

I followed the above three steps. The only difference is when I cut the neck hole out, I cut below the buttons.

Ohhhh…this one is my FAVE!!!

Re-duce… Re-use… Re-cycle…RE-DICULOUSLY cute!

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11 Comments Post a comment
  1. Rebecca P #

    I LOVE this idea! Now I have to remember how to thread my sewing machine!

    January 26, 2011
  2. well, that idea is just too cute!

    January 26, 2011
  3. Brilliant! Hope my kids love sewing this project as much as I think they will! Getting the machine out to.night! Thanks for the inspiration!

    January 26, 2011
  4. vanessa #

    Susan not only are you my hero for the above project but reading your blogs I learn how to spell things like “yea high” These are perfect!! but if I would use our old tees it would put a new name to “hobo” bag! haha or HOLE-EE bag! ha Thanks for this perfect idea!

    January 26, 2011
  5. Girl…you are going to be dangerous with that machine!!!

    January 26, 2011
  6. Janette Ingram #

    What a neat idea….I took all of my granddaughter’s old shirts from high school and college and made her a quilt. I just cut out the names,etc. and sewed them together and then backed it with pretty fabric, or whatever you wanted to use (flannel is great for a guy). She absolutely loved it and she can keep those memories forever…. I adore your site, my number place to hang out.

    January 26, 2011
  7. So cute and useful too! They would scrunch up well to fit in a purse or the car door pockets. Nothing worse than getting in the store and forgetting the bags! One of my great-nieces (hey I’m only 45 but I’ve been an aunt since I was 4!) wants me to teach her to sew and this might just be the perfect thing. Thanks so much!

    January 27, 2011
  8. This is so clever! I can’t wait to make some of these!!

    I’ll be featuring you on my new “Show & Share” party today! Please stop by and grab a “featured” button!

    January 27, 2011
  9. These are so stinking cute and would make the best gifts! I will be doing this on all the old shirts I can find! I can use these for everything! Thanks for the amazing idea! The up-cycled polo is my fav!

    February 2, 2011
  10. That is BRILLIANT! Featuring these tonight. Thank you for sharing with air your laundry Friday!


    February 4, 2011

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