Repurposed Old T~Shirts Into Shopping Bags

*I was looking through my old {yes, super old} posts, and came across this gem! I sooooooooo need to make more of these, so I thought I would share the tutorial again in case you missed it.*

Hello all!

Thanks for all of your sweet comments……I LOVE ‘em!!!

But, for now, on with the post. Sorry about the weird looking pics.

I am finally able to post something for freecycle friday!! Yay!

Today’s freecycle project involves sewing, but it’s easy sewing (again).

Repurposed Old T~Shirts Into Shopping Totes By:

I love to recycle and I very much like to be able to use reusable grocery bags when I can. But, there are a few problems with the ones I have gotten from grocery stores in the past:

1. They fall apart easily – especially at the seams!
2. They are NOT cute! And they are almost always branded with the stores name, so it is VERY noticeable when you use them in a different store.
3. They are fairly bulky – When I go grocery shopping, I usually need at least 5 or 6 reusable bags, but it’s not like I can just tuck them in my purse or something.

So, I was very excited to see how easy it is to turn your old t-shirts into great (sturdy and washable, too!) tote bags!

Here is a great tutorial that was VERY helpful, but I will go ahead with my own since I did a few things different (don’t I always?)

First you need to look through your closet (or your hubby’s) for t-shirts you don’t wear anymore. I had my eye on a few of my own hubby’s unused shirts, but he was sleeping when I did this and I didn’t want him to suddenly decide that the shirts I used (the ones he never wears) are his favorites :)

Repurposed Old T~Shirts Into Shopping Totes By:

So, I used a few of my old undershirts for this demonstration. I actually liked that they were plain but, may try to think of some way to dress them up a little in the future :)

So start by laying your shirt out and smoothing out all the wrinkles.

Then, cut both of the sleeves off as shown. This shirt is a cap-sleeve, so if you use a regular t-shirt you will have more to cut.

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Now, I liked that she suggested using a plate to trace out the neck cut. It worked out nicely. I did end up cutting a teeny bit more off the top sides to make the hole a bit bigger, but just go with what looks right to you.

Also, if you don’t want to finish the “handle” seams, you can cut yours a bit more narrow. I did mine a little wider for seam allowance.

Repurposed Old T~Shirts Into Shopping Totes By:

Repurposed Old T~Shirts Into Shopping Totes By:

Finally, I cut the very bottom part off so that once sewed, it wouldn’t be too bulky.
After everything was cut, it looked something like this.

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So, as for sewing the bottom……you can just do it easy and sew straight across the bottom (twice, for strength). Or, you can do what I did, and make it kinda like the bottom of a grocery bag. I had fold it accordion-style and check it a bunch of times to make sure I had it right. Here is a picture of what mine looked like (remember, it’s inside out at this point and sorry about the blurry picture).

Update: You can also do a gusseted bottom easy peasy! Check out this post to see just how easy.

Repurposed Old T~Shirts Into Shopping Totes By:

Here is the bottom (still inside out) after I sewed it (twice, for strength).

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I like the way it came out. It give the bag some dimension.

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Lastly, I finished the seams around the “handles”. Here is the bag with unfinished seams

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And this is with finished seams

There isn’t a TON of difference……but, like I said, I’m a little OCD with stuff. And the handles shouldn’t fray, but will just roll up a little with use.

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So, TA DA!

Now you can whip up a bunch of these puppies AND clean out your (and your hubby’s) closet at the same time.

These are durable and washable and super easy to roll up and take with you.

This one is made of stretchy material, and I like that, but you can also stick with the non-stretchy shirts, too!

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Swing by our Etsy shop and check out all the fun stuff!

About Emily Mcdonald

Emily McDonald is the owner of Not So Idle Hands and lives in Colorado with her hot hubby and 3 cute daughters. When she's not battling ADHD, Fibro, or Migraines she loves to be downstairs playing with all her pretty crafty things making fun stuff. She also runs an awesome Etsy Shop by the same name where she gets to sell shiny supplies to make pretty stuff {check it out!}.


  1. Hi Emily! What a neat tutorial! I’ve been cutting up my husbands old t-shirts for rags and there are still plenty left I can use to make bags! I’m so thankful you posted this now so I can make some! Thanks for sharing! Blessings from Bama!

    • Thanks! I’m glad it helped you….I have so many old tees and am replenishing my stock of totes ;)Have a great night Felecia!

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