Picture of No-Sew 10 Minute T-Shirt Tote
Did you know that about 100 billion plastic bags are used annually in the US alone and only about 2% of them are recycled? Check it out at www.droptheplasticbag.org.

It's a scary statistic but we can all do small things to help our earth! Using reusable bags or totes is a very easy way to do your part. It is a great alternative to buying reusable bags or taking merchandise home in plastic bags from stores and much more fashionable! They are durable and will last a long time.

Everyone at some time or another has probably had an old t-shirt that they didn't need or like anymore. This is a way to improve that favorite old tee so instead of tossing it make it into a reusable tote in about 10 minutes.

All you will need is an old t-shirt and a pair of scissors.

Step 1: Cut Sleeves Off of Shirt

Picture of Cut Sleeves Off of Shirt
You can use a short or a long sleeved t-shirt. It won't matter since you will be cutting the sleeves off anyway.

Lay your t-shirt out on a flat work surface. Using a sharp pair of scissors cut the sleeves off of your t-shirt.
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CalvinY21 month ago

Piece of Advice: Don't trim down t-shirt at bottom before tying it, other wise it will look too short.

CalvinY21 month ago

So if i cut off bottom does it completely ruin it?

CalvinY21 month ago
kensmaxi2 months ago

My first attempt making Tshirt tote but practice makes perfect..

mlevitt2 months ago
Can knot on the inside and turn inside out for a kind of finished look.
ManubibiW made it!3 months ago

Very fun and quick idea! Had this old (and beloved) Beatles tee that was way too ruined by re-washes and had torn under the armpit so instead of sewing or throwing away I made it a large bag. Thanks for the tutorial! Will surely remember in case I have more old t-shirts I don't wanna throw away :D


you could probably do this idea as well to making pillow cases... except cut off the top of the shirt under the arm pits, if you have a picture in the way, just curve around it. Then knot fringe the end the neck and arm holes used to be and slip it over a pillow. :-D

RadhikaJ15 months ago

i luv it! Very easy and very fun!

MelissaS11 year ago

I made this as a lunch box. A good variation of this is to get a 100% cotton shirt, tie-dye it, then make the shirt.

Southpaw691 year ago
Just finished making one of these, and it was super easy!
This will be perfect to use, now that they are charging for bags now.
jhyland1 year ago
LOVE THIS! Going to do with an old Sweatshirt... should up the heavy duty factor of the bag!
it took 12 minutes with my 3 year old watching. From the cut away collar you could make a child's sun shade by the way. We had such a great time!
I am going out to buy some groceries right now and will tell you how it went :-)
wold630 (author)  icelandinthesun2 years ago
I'm so glad to hear you made one. You should post an instructable for the sun shade. I have no idea how to make one and would love to see it!
AmyCat592 years ago
I've got a Serger (4-thread overlock sewing machine), so will probably use this basic pattern but sewing the bottom together and reinforcing the handles with strips of fabric from the cut-off parts for extra strength...

Another idea: save one of the cut-off sleeves, sew (or tie) it closed at the cut end, and use it as a "stuff-sack" for the bag when it's not in use. You can even run a drawstring through the sleeve-cuff with a tapestry needle threaded with heavy yarn or crochet-cotton...
wold630 (author)  AmyCat592 years ago
Unless you are hauling around weights (and I'm guessing your aren't!!!) the tote doesn't really need reinforcing. The t-shirt fabric is surprisingly strong but I guess it couldn't hurt.

My shirt sleeves were too small to make a 'stuff sack' but that is a GREAT idea! I love it.
Browncoat2 years ago
Do the edges of the straps fray without sewing?
wold630 (author)  Browncoat2 years ago
No, they have not frayed on mine. Once it stretches the fabric does curl a bit but does not fray.
Very nice and quick! I've done this before by sewing across the bottom with the same beginning steps. ^_^
wold630 (author)  midsummermuse2 years ago
I've seen that done before. If you don't like the fringe look you can tie the ends inside the bag as to not see them!
Chizuru_Oni2 years ago
This really is fantastic, but won't the edges fray a bit or stretch out and rip after a while?
wold630 (author)  Chizuru_Oni2 years ago
It does stretch out a bit when it is packed full but since I don't cut off the bottom hem it can't fray. I haven't had any tears with them.
Madrigorne2 years ago
I made these! I made these!
I was heading out to pick tomatoesafter work and didnt have any bags or my baskets so I stopped at the thrift store and bought some severely ratty-stained tshirts for fifteen cents and made tomato-picking bags.
And they're awesome.
And you're awesome for posting this and saving me.
You rock.
wold630 (author)  Madrigorne2 years ago
I'm so glad to hear you made these. Aren't they easy and fantastic??!! :) I'm so happy to have saved you!
1inspirit2 years ago
wold630 (author)  1inspirit2 years ago
That's a great line, I might have to use it sometime! I will give you credit don't worry!! :)
ljacoby7143 years ago
Absolutely brilliant—especially the no-sew aspect. I was about to toss out some beloved but fatally aged Ts, and now I have a reason to keep them. Thanks!
wold630 (author)  ljacoby7142 years ago
I'm glad you can keep your favorite old tees now!
Thanks for sharing!! Great to do with teens too!
This would be a great project to do with teens who do not know how to sew.
SunSmith3 years ago
Great idea. I'll use it for the stadium give-away t-shirts. That way I'll have a bag to put all of the stuff that I normally bring to the stadium - and keep it ready to go.
Thanks so much for posting this one.
wold630 (author)  SunSmith2 years ago
Great idea!
DivaB3 years ago
Love this!!!
wold630 (author)  DivaB2 years ago
Thanks, it's so easy.
Fabulous recyling project! This would work fantastically also for a little kids purse especially if they have a FAVORITE shirt that they've outgrown but don't want to part with it
wold630 (author)  straycatmeow3 years ago
Great idea for an old favorite kids t-shirt. You should make one and post it on the kids craft challenge.
Okok3 years ago
Great idea!

I sometimes make cushion covers out of t-shirts... I'l do the no-sew version in the next one, see how it works out with the fringe on both sides!
wold630 (author)  Okok3 years ago
I would like to see the cushion covers. Post a picture here when you finish!
bajablue3 years ago
Fabulous work, wold!!! No-sew projects always gets a "YAY!" from me! ;-)

A tank top would also work, don't you think?
wold630 (author)  bajablue3 years ago
Yes, I think a tank top would work great. You could skip cutting off the sleeves and the neck all together, assuming the neck isn't too small to get things in the finished bag. It would shorten the time to about 5 minutes and might even be stronger since it would be edged along those areas. Good idea, I didn't even think of using a tank!
flyingpuppy3 years ago
Most excellent idea! Thanks for showing how to do it.
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