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DIY T-Shirt Tote Bags

DIY T-shirt bag 1

In my efforts to waste less and reuse more, I’ve tried to boycott plastic grocery bags. I know reusable grocery bags are the way to go, but I don’t want to spend money on a bunch of bags at the store. I buy a ton of groceries with all the men in my house, and would have to buy way too many bags! Instead, I knew I could figure out how to make my own! I ended up using old tee-shirts, which we have no shortage of!

Our family has a ton of these “event” t-shirts that are worn MAYBE once and then never see the light of day again. Sports teams, golf tournaments, 5 and 10K runs, family reunions, school spirit shirts, etc. Now I have a perfect use for them! With a couple of simple cuts with a pair of scissors and a quick seam on the sewing machine; you have a strong, washable, and re-usable tote bag! Great for groceries, library books, tennis balls, gym clothes or pool supplies – anything you need to carry!

DIY T-Shirt Tote Bags

First, start by turning the shirt inside-out and cutting off the sleeves. These will be your handles!

DIY T-Shirt Tote Bags

Next, cut off the neckline. This will be the opening of your tote.

DIY T-Shirt Tote Bags

Finally, with the shirt still inside-out, pin along the seam and sew one straight line on top of the seam. Sewing on the existing hem will make a stronger bag.

DIY T-shirt bag

The first bag I made was with a XXL shirt, and the bag was indeed extra extra large!

DIY T-Shirt Tote Bags

I made a second bag with a smaller shirt and I made it even smaller by folding up the bottom of shirt. You still want to sew on the hem for extra reinforcement. Once the bottom has been sewed, cut off the extra fabric and voila! This tote bag was the perfect size!

DIY T-shirt bag

I already have more than enough t-shirts in this house to make dozens of these bags, and I may just need that many! But with a project as easy and clever as this, I don’t mind getting my craft on! :-)

Jill Nystul Photo

Jill Nystul (aka Jillee)

Jill Nystul is an accomplished writer and author who founded the blog One Good Thing by Jillee in 2011. With over 30 years of experience in homemaking, she has become a trusted resource for contemporary homemakers by offering practical solutions to everyday household challenges.
I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

About Jillee

Jill Nystul

Jill’s 30 years of homemaking experience, make her the trusted source for practical household solutions.

About Jillee

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  • Thanks so much, great idea, I think I will start doing these this summer for craft shows in the fall. T shirts are plentiful and I might use a pinking shear for top and sleeve cut out! I love this idea and going to now make my first one in two minutes lol. Happy New Year!

  • If the bags are not washable, I use a spray bottle with rubbing alcohol and spray it down liberally (wipe out if necessary) and hang to dry before storing in the car for reuse It’s quick, efficient and effective…………..

  • I’ve been doing this for years. Glad you wrote this because I forgot all about it and its definitely time to make more. My only problem with them is that my kids keep “borrowing” them.

  • I love the idea of making reusable grocery bags out of old t-shirts. Another idea is making shorts out of old t-shirts. I’ve even just resized them to fit my grandkids. You can find a lot of ideas on the internet for re-purposing old t-shirts. And it’s a lot of fun doing it!

  • This is much easier than the one I made, cutting the body rectangular and using the sleeves to piece together into long handles. My next project is to make a color-blocked denim jacket I no longer wear into a tote bag.

  • This is a great way to use excess t-shirts!

    I have a question that is not on this topic. I am noticing after 36 years of daily use, eating and putting in the dishwasher, my stoneware I received as a bride is losing it’s design. Is this a common problem when the dishes are constantly washed in the dishwasher? Is the dishwasher detergent too strong? I would appreciate any help.

    Thanks,
    Debbie Sullins

  • What a perfect idea, too for all the t-shirts the kids love but have outgrown! It will soon be snowy here, and a t-shirt bag is perfect for taking shoes to school in (kids are bundled up with snowboots). When dirty, just throw in the wash with a load of clothes!

  • My problem is I can never remember to take the bags into the store with me. When I get to the checkout counter, I remember all the cloth bags in my trunk and vow I’ll remember next time. Never do.

  • You might want to have one bag dedicated to just meat and put a plastic liner in it in case any of the meat packages leak so they don’t leak in your car. Even though the t-shirts are cheap enough to just trash, your carpet in your car or the seats aren’t and blood is not easy to get out. It also is going to stink if you don’t notice it in time (especially in hot temps).

    Wouldn’t hurt to carry milk or other dairy items (like cottage cheese, yogurt, etc.) in plastic lined bags also. We had a milk jug that leaked just a tiny bit in the trunk recently and didn’t notice it and the car still stinks to high heaven!

    You could use an old shower curtain or plastic table cloth for the liner or something along those lines (or even a garbage bag), just something inside the t-shirt bag to catch leaks. It will save you lots of aggravation in the long run. Trust me on this LOL!

  • I like this idea. Some of the plastic bags we use in the stores are not well made. My main gripe about this whole movement is the tree hugger type people who go berserk if put certain stuff in plastic. This definitely is an idea for old t- shirts that are too worn out to donate to thrift stores.

  • A couple of years ago I made these with my grandkids as a summer project. We tie-dyed the shirts first then made them into bags. I also put a big button on them and added a loop. They used them for pool bags that summer but now use them for everything. They just love them.

  • This is an awsome idea. We too have a lot of shirts. Another idea is if the shirt is to worn out to make a grocery bag I cut them up into cleaning rags. I have wood furniture that requires oiling so they come in very handy for that or pretty much anything else that needs cleaning

    • Unfortunately, here many people still use plastic bags – I don/t use plastic bags anymore, getting back to what my grandmother used: textile grocery bags that are re-usable over and over again.!

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