Picture of T-shirt tote bag
Do you have an old t-shirt you don't know what to do with but are tired of making new shirts out of old ones? Try making this tote bag... it even has pockets!
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Step 1: Materials needed

You will need:

- one old t-shirt, preferably with a design you like
- a sewing machine
- scissors
- velcro, snaps, or other fastener of your choice

Step 2: Let's get started!

Picture of Let's get started!
Turn the t-shirt inside out and sew underneath the design (or further down if you want a bigger bag). Cut off and save the excess.

Step 3: Making pockets

Picture of Making pockets
Now it's time to make some oddly-shaped pockets! Turn the shirt right side out again and sew the sleeves shut. You can trim the excess if you need to. Now turn the shirt inside out and sew the bottom half of each armhole shut - this will make the pockets a more normal size on the outside. As you can see in the second picture, I opted to put velcro to hold the pockets shut... If you're feeling really ambitious, I'm sure you could add zippers.

Step 4: Making the top flap

Picture of Making the top flap
Cut slits from the neck hole close to the edges of the bag. Be careful not to cut the pockets! Sew the loose fabric on the top through to the back of the shirt. Add the fastener of your choice.

Step 5: Making the straps

Picture of Making the straps
bag step 5.gif
I decided to make my bag with two handles, though I could also see it working well as a messenger bag. To make the handles, take the bottom part of the shirt that you saved from before and cut a loop about 3" wide. Stretch the loop so the fabric curls in on the edges, then cut into two even pieces. Sew the pieces shut at both ends.

Step 6: Attaching the straps

Picture of Attaching the straps
While you may be tempted to glue the straps onto the bag, sewing them on will make it more durable. Make sure you leave enough room on the front for the flap to close.

...and you're done! Enjoy!
SageMinto4 years ago
I am trying this project as I type. Very easy!
I can't wait to see how it turns out! Although I am a bit torn on whether or not it should be a messenger bag or a regular one.
Thanks for posting this!
Any Ideas on how I could make this a messanger bag?
chuCraft (author)  JenniferDodge5 years ago
You could attach a shoulder strap further down the bag, letting the top flop over and have a messenger-shaped bag of adjustable size. I'm sure there are some other ways to do it, but that was the first thing that came to mind.
joeyms6 years ago
I really didn't figure out the flap part, but it is a cute bag anyways. Thanks for the project.
ccherry6 years ago
I need a simple project my girl scouts can make for holiday presents- I think i just found it- thanks
Thank you, ccherry, for the Girl Scout reference! That's what made this site come up while I searched for GS-themed bags for my troop. We were just about to start our sewing badge - We're definitely going to do this! It's so simple and helps re-enforce the concept of reuse/recycle.
The ones our girls did were a hit- I would show everyone a pic but they are busy being used by five different families.
halfpuppy6 years ago
Great project. My 10 year old son wanted a bag for a school outing, so we scaled this one back a little bit (no Velcro), he did the whole thing himself on the sewing machine in about 15 minutes. I especially love the sleeve side pockets. Thanks!
chuCraft (author)  halfpuppy6 years ago
It's always great to hear about this project being put to good use. I'm glad you and your son liked it!
Dalya7 years ago
Agh! I really want to try this out. I have a crappy 29.99 sewing machine :D I have tons of shirts in my room, most of them are with cute designs. I love your instructable! Awesome pics!
chuCraft (author)  Dalya7 years ago
Thanks! This project was inspired by the enormous amount of t-shirts just lying around my house that I didn't particularly want to get rid of.
scottamus8 years ago
That's a great idea, thanks.
That looks like a fun project, and just in time for Earth Day too. Thanks.