Introduction: FASTEST RECYCLED T-SHIRT TOTE BAG

Are you looking for a great, low-cost recycling project to do at home or with a group?This is IT! This is a great way to use last season's team t-shirts or a previous year's event t-shirts! Re-purpose an unwanted t-shirt today and easily turn the shirt into a re-usable tote bag.

With just two quick seams and some fast cutting---you are finished! These t-shirt totes are strong and washable! Use for groceries, library books, tennis balls, gym clothes or pool supplies---use for anything you need to carry!

Did You Know.... 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...make and use a Recycled T-Shirt Totebag today! *Source: 2008 Piedmont Environmental Alliance, NC

This is my first Instructable- any comments are appreciated. I am doing this recycling project for my Girl Scout Gold Award- I hope to share the information with as many people as possible! Thanks for your interest- 

UPDATE: Thank you for your support and words of encouragement- I have successfully completed my Girl Scout Gold Award Project!  Thank you for helping me spread the word-
just say no to paper or plastic!

Step 1: STEP ONE

COLLECT THE FOLLOWING SUPPLIES:

-Heavy weight cotton T-shirt (heavy weight fabric & Youth size XL or Adult S or M work best)

~ 3- 5 straight pins

- Pencil or pen

- Dinner plate

-Scissors

- Sewing machine

Step 2: STEP 2

-Choose an old t-shirt and smooth it flat on a table. Use scissors to cut and remove the sleeves---make sure you leave the seam in place---this keeps your tote strong!

Step 3: STEP 3

-Position a plate about halfway over the neck opening of the shirt. Trace the plate with your pencil or pen. This will be your cutting line to create the opening for your tote bag. Cut along the traced line with the scissors.

Step 4: STEP 4

-Turn the T-shirt inside out and pin the bottom of the T-shirt-- along the hem--- closed.

Step 5: STEP 5

-Use the sewing machine to sew the bottom of T-shirt hem closed. Reinforce your tote bag by sewing over this seam a second time!

-Your bag is now sewn closed! As a variation you may consider adding a "gusset" at the bottom corners- as several commenters have- that's where you sew across the corner at at right angle so that the bottom of the bag has more depth and is not just flat---it "boxes" the corners of the tote bag.

-Another variation to consider....see the picture below of the pink t shirt tote bag. My friend and I added pockets to the tote by using the cut away sleeve scraps and fashioning them into pockets. We added the three pockets onto the front of the tote! These are more decorative than useful...next time I add pockets, I will make them deeper.

Step 6: STEP 6

-Turn the shirt right- side- out. YOU just made your own recycled tote bag!
Fill it with groceries, gym clothes, pool supplies, library books, etc! Keep one handy in your car!
T-shirt Totes are Machine Washable, Reusable and Strong! Just say NO to "paper or plastic"!

Comments

author
jabony1269 (author)2016-06-26

If you sew across the bottom of an old tank top, you don't need to do anything else.

author
MaurieV1 (author)jabony12692016-07-26

So smart! That hadn't crossed my mind :)

author
swiperfox (author)MaurieV12017-03-19

That would be a 1-Step Tank Top Tote Bag.

author
OneBirdieMa (author)2016-06-26

Hi! Good idea. BUT I object to the characterization of plastic bags as of little worth and less value. Years ago Rubbermaid made a small trash can that was designed to use those d****d plastic bags, with a means of looping the handles to hold them in place while the trash was added. (Pic attached -- one with six or eight bags in place, one empty, laying on side, one with only one bag.) I only found out about them after they were no longer in production, but there are still a lot around (far as I know) and they are THE best way to utilize the bags that inevitably make their way home with any of us. The difficulty with reusable items like T-shirt tote bags is they require maintenance (washing and drying, if nothing else), they take up space (they have to be stored somewhere when not in use), if not used/remembered/whatever, weight of guilt is added to, etc. Which isn't to say I won't use this idea -- and sew by hand 'cause my machines are mothballed right now -- and be happy with the results 'cause I do have some neat old T-shirts . . . .

Rubbermaid plastic grocery bag trash cans.JPG
author
SallyJ7 (author)OneBirdieMa2016-09-02

I found it at Amazon, but can't post the link here?

Search Amazon for plastic grocery bag trash can

author
peggytosha (author)2016-06-26

Your 6-26-16 email included the link to this '2-Step T-Shirt Bag'... which can be made in 6 steps.... Still easy, but... Just sayin'!!!

author
Xieda (author)peggytosha2016-06-28

I believe the two steps are "Cut off sleeves" and "Sew up the bottom". =)

author
Mrs Fixit (author)2016-06-27

I'm going to make bags from grankids old t-shirts for their toys.

author
ClareBS (author)2016-06-26

Good instructable, nice and easy project that could be made by anyone. Congratulations on your Gold Award.

author
sarawelder (author)2016-06-26

nice and simple!

author
KayB31 (author)2016-06-26

Good idea!

author
ChristineH106 (author)2016-06-26

Might be a good idea for school kids next year if they hand sew them instead

Great job

author
lnocella (author)2016-06-26

Clever and simple! I like it! Well done!

author
somas2 (author)2016-06-26

really it is so much use full in india good idea..

author
somas2 (author)2016-06-26

really it is so much use full in india good idea..

author
missystory (author)2016-04-19

What a great idea! Thank you so much for sharing and congrats on your Girl Scout achievement!

author
Tomaszhetman (author)2016-03-12

I like this solution. Sam I have to do this for yourself.

Cool are shown a variety of other ideas for using T- shirts http://www.open-youweb.com/how-to-make-a-t-shirt-bag/

Certainly be useful to many people.

author
davidbarcomb (author)2014-11-17

Cool idea. Thanks for sharing

author
Bri_Rowe35 (author)davidbarcomb2016-03-07

YOU WELCOME!!!!!

author
jenpl3 (author)2014-12-21

I would add a pocket for my phone, a deeper pocket for my grocery list and a pen and keys. I love the idea.

author
Bri_Rowe35 (author)jenpl32016-03-07

ME TOO

author
JudithB16 (author)2016-03-06

Congratulations on your Gold Award. From a 20 year Cadette leader/Senior advisor. I know just how hard you girls work for those awards.

author
bmcelik made it! (author)2015-11-08

worked out great! I used old toddler shirt and worked just fine. It was on the small side. You can hand sew if you like. I did.

image.jpeg
author
swaggygurl36 (author)2015-10-13

This is a great project

author
Pbs535hi (author)2015-08-14

I will try your instructions, sounds real easy.

author
nuthara (author)2015-05-17

it is awesome!!!

author
AnnJ3 (author)2015-03-28

Sew your seam about 3 inches from the bottom and then cut slits about 2
1/2" long then tie the strips together to give it more character! (Same way you
do the no-sew fleece blankets!)

author
stephanie.owen.9828 (author)2015-01-31

We made this as part of earning the Household Elf badge at Brownie Badge Day. Thanks for the great instructions!!

author
dawnjordan77. made it! (author)2015-01-29

I made this today. LOVE IT!! I also added a pocket to the bottom seam to tuck it into when not in use.

IMG_8972.JPGIMG_8974.JPGIMG_8975.JPGIMG_8976.JPGIMG_8977.JPGIMG_8978.JPG
author
Snellingkorey (author)2015-01-06

what a great way to use old/baggy tshirts

author
unicornaz1 made it! (author)2014-12-31

I used the sleeve for a pocket, sewing it wrong side out to the back of the bag,, fold the bag into it , an it comes out right side out,, , added a clip to clip to purse or what ever,,on this one I croceite it,, in other bags, I just use the nice seam edge of the sleeve, so many ways,, to make it work,, thanks for your info,,

20140928_113428.jpg20140928_113304.jpg
author
LoveToCraft111 (author)2014-10-24

Great. I love this. I have a lot of t shirts and will need this for a quick bag every now and then. Thanks.

author
Dolphina2 (author)2014-10-09

I made two tote bags, but one i flipped the top over a little and sewed it. I think it made it look better, because you never now when the top will become threadbare and start unraveling.

author
janet.wilcox.94 (author)2014-09-07

don't you have to finish the neckline you cut out somehow? Seems like it would stretch or fray. ( I realize it is a knit)

author
mooconnor (author)2014-07-22

Rather than calling it recycled I think it is called up-cycled. Either way they are not in the landfill!! Also, I live in Austin, TX and plastic bags have been banned!! I love the idea of these bags because they are washable!!

author
ghostrider8605 (author)2014-07-14

love this idea. I have plenty of shirts I can re-purpose now. made my first
one :)

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author
ttowngirl (author)2014-05-24

I would consider using the two sleeves as "handles" or Using them to reinforce the handle of the project using the sewing machine - :)
GO GIRL SCOUTS!! :))

author
KwartzKitten (author)2014-05-19

Thanks for the instructable! I have some old theater shirts I want to keep but can't wear anymore, and I'm considering something like this.

author
emartel1 (author)2014-02-21

also if you want one but have no extra shirts, do to good will or savers, you can purchas them there at dirt cheep prices and your helping other by spending $$$ there.

author
yyu5 (author)2014-02-12

That's not recycled, you're sewing things into that. If you're using new things to do it, you're not recycling.

author
emartel1 (author)yyu52014-02-21

im pretty sure she used the sleeves as pockets. so she did not add anything extra to the shirt.

author
casey321b (author)yyu52014-02-20

The point of recycling is to reuse as much as possible to save material. Sometimes you need to add to it but it doesn't change the fact that most of it has been repurposed. Things like recycled containers or those plastic recycled benches all have material added to them because it's practically impossible to make something out of 100% recycled material.

author
nhamby (author)2013-12-04

These are so cute and helpful. I am lazy so I cut the bottom in strips and made a fringe out of it instead of sewing it. Bought little girrls tee shirts at the dollar store with a pretty neck for the top...fancied it up a lot...

author
dstill47 (author)2013-11-20

I love this idea. We live in an area which bans plastic bags, so these will do the trick. I serged the seams as well as the handle area, so everything is nice and strong. What a great way to recycle .

author
Chloe8 (author)2013-06-09

brilliant idea! I want to make it for my friends too.

author
matula (author)2013-03-04

nice one. it works.

author
lrohret (author)2013-02-21

Definitely the best shirt-to-bag ible! Well done, and congrats on the gold award!

author
kcampbell17 (author)2013-01-24

love this idea great way to repurpose

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charmom15 (author)2012-11-28

I love this idea!! Thanks!

author
megankeisher (author)2012-10-30

Thank you for posting this. These are indeed some fantastic ideas. You are indeed very green. They will also be useful for our family room decorating; thanks again for sharing with us.

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