Introduction: No-Sew 10 Minute T-Shirt Tote

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

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.

Step 2: Cut Neck Out of Shirt

Picture of Cut Neck Out of Shirt

You can use a large bowl and draw around it on your fabric to get a nice rounded scoop shape or just eyeball it and cut the scoop. I just eyeballed it.

Step 3: Cut Slits and Tie Knots

Picture of Cut Slits and Tie Knots

At the bottom of the shirt cut slits about every inch through both layers (length will depend on the size of the shirt so you will have to make the call) long enough that you will be able to tie them twice. Remember the shirt will stretch with weight so try to make sure your tote isn't going to hang to your feet with filled with goodies!

Keep the slits lined up and starting with one end tie the aligning front and back pieces together in double knots until you have done the entire row.

If you don't want the knots to show you can tie them on the inside for a less fringed look.

Step 4: Tie Decorative Handles

Picture of Tie Decorative Handles

This step is optional but I chose to cut small strips of extra fabric and tie small knots on the tops of the handles for a more decorative look.

The tote is finished and ready to use! Go shopping!


GeorgiaZ1 made it! (author)2017-01-01

I did this with one of my daughter's old shirts and it turned out perfect.

wold630 (author)GeorgiaZ12017-01-03

Don't you love how easy it is? I love the heart!!

GeorgiaZ1 (author)wold6302017-03-18

I still use it to this day. So easy, and thanks for making this instrucable!

BarbaraF41 (author)2016-05-11

Super easy!

wold630 (author)BarbaraF412016-05-11

Yay! I'm so glad you made one! It looks great!

BarbaraF41 made it! (author)2016-05-11

It was super easy and fun! Real easy on the shoulder!

icelandinthesun (author)2013-05-08

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 :-)

RobinP43 (author)icelandinthesun2016-03-21

That is exactly what i done , but i am using it for a head band for when i put my hair up at work

wold630 (author)icelandinthesun2013-05-21

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!

RobinP43 (author)2016-03-21

I used one of my uniform t shirts,, so when i work i can match !!

TiffanyT16 (author)2016-01-06

Really awesome way to reuse my husband's old t-shirts. The parts I cut off I'm reusing as cleaning rags or stuffing for future plushy animal/pillow project.

luhh_neal made it! (author)2015-12-30

it is so freaking great

RafałH (author)2015-12-07
Very cool it looks, the same I have also done so. At the moment I tried the simplest but much less nice see how this will come out again.
CalvinY2 (author)2015-07-22

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

CalvinY2 (author)2015-07-22

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

CalvinY2 (author)2015-07-22

kensmaxi (author)2015-06-17

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

mlevitt (author)2015-06-14

Can knot on the inside and turn inside out for a kind of finished look.

ManubibiW made it! (author)2015-05-26

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

RadhikaJ1 (author)2015-03-04

i luv it! Very easy and very fun!

MelissaS1 (author)2014-08-16

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.

Southpaw69 (author)2014-01-10

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.

jhyland (author)2013-12-14

LOVE THIS! Going to do with an old Sweatshirt... should up the heavy duty factor of the bag!

AmyCat59 (author)2013-02-11

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)AmyCat592013-02-11

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.

Browncoat (author)2013-01-13

Do the edges of the straps fray without sewing?

wold630 (author)Browncoat2013-01-13

No, they have not frayed on mine. Once it stretches the fabric does curl a bit but does not fray.

midsummermuse (author)2012-12-14

Very nice and quick! I've done this before by sewing across the bottom with the same beginning steps. ^_^

wold630 (author)midsummermuse2012-12-14

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!

Arcee_Guardian (author)2012-11-24

This really is fantastic, but won't the edges fray a bit or stretch out and rip after a while?

wold630 (author)Arcee_Guardian2012-11-24

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.

Madrigorne (author)2012-10-12

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)Madrigorne2012-10-12

I'm so glad to hear you made these. Aren't they easy and fantastic??!! :) I'm so happy to have saved you!

1inspirit (author)2012-08-31


wold630 (author)1inspirit2012-08-31

That's a great line, I might have to use it sometime! I will give you credit don't worry!! :)

ljacoby714 (author)2012-08-30

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)ljacoby7142012-08-31

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.

SunSmith (author)2012-08-30

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)SunSmith2012-08-31

Great idea!

DivaB (author)2012-08-30

Love this!!!

wold630 (author)DivaB2012-08-31

Thanks, it's so easy.

straycatmeow (author)2012-08-28

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)straycatmeow2012-08-30

Great idea for an old favorite kids t-shirt. You should make one and post it on the kids craft challenge.

Okok (author)2012-08-30

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)Okok2012-08-30

I would like to see the cushion covers. Post a picture here when you finish!

bajablue (author)2012-08-26

Fabulous work, wold!!! No-sew projects always gets a "YAY!" from me! ;-)

A tank top would also work, don't you think?

wold630 (author)bajablue2012-08-26

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!

About This Instructable




Bio: Hi, I'm Jen! In my free time I'm a crafter, food lover, cake decorator, and Etsy shop owner. I also can't stop ... More »
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