Like most refashionistas out there, we try to do our part to recycle, eliminate waste, and reduce consumption. But sometimes, despite our best intentions, we don't remember to bring our reusable totebag to the grocery store. We solved this problem by creating a very memorable reusable tote bag, made from a recycled tank top! As an added bonus, it folds up super small to fit right in your purse so you will always have it with you. Extra credit for the environment!
This project works best with those 90's rayon tank tops you can easily find at a thrift shop (and maybe even in the back of your closet... shhh, we won't tell!). While it will theoretically work with a knit tank top, rayon or some other thin woven material will fold down smaller and won't stretch if you've got a lot of groceries in your bag. Also, it helps if the necklines on the front and the back of the tank top are similar (versus a tank top with a low cut front and a higher neckline in the back, or a racerback or halter style).
In addition to a refashionable tank, you'll need 5-6 inches of snap tape or ribbon...
Step 1: Givin' Waste the Cold Shoulder
Cut your tank top apart at the shoulder seams.
NOTE: If you are really in a super rush to get your grocery on, you can skip this step and Step 2. While it can be a time-saver, it will also leave your bag looking less polished and it won't open as wide as if you take these extra steps. If you do plan to skip steps 1 & 2, simply turn the tank top inside out so that the side seams are in the front and back of the bag, instead of on the sides and don't do any cutting just yet. Then skip on to step 3!
Step 2: Back to the Back, Front to the Front
Turn your tank top inside out. Face the straps from the front of the tank top towards each other, party side to party side. Sew them together about 1/2-inch away from the cut edge using a straight stitch with a small to medium stitch length. (NOTE: the front straps were previously sewn to the back straps, now you are sewing the front straps to each other and the back straps to each other). Your tank top should now look like this.
Step 3: Be a Mathmagician
Measure the width of the hemline from side seam to side seam. Divide that number by 4. For instance, our tank top was 24 inches wide at the hem. So our result is 24 / 4 = 6. Measure 6 inches in from either side seam and place a pin to mark your spot. This is where you will attach your snap tape.
Step 4: Yum, Snap Tape Sandwich!
With your tank top still inside out and the party side facing the party side, take your snap tape and make a snap tape sandwich, with the snap tape as the "meat" (or "cheese" for vegetarians) and the tank top as the "bread". You are going to place and pin the snap tape inside the tank top, at the spot where you placed your pin in step 3. Be sure the snappy sides of the snap tape are facing each other in snaptastic fashion!
NOTE: If you don't have any snap tape handy, you can use two strips of ribbon as a replacement. Instead of snapping, tie a nice bow!
With a pin firming holding your snap tape sandwich together, sew a straight seam (with small to medium stitch length) all the way across the hem of the tank so you are closing up the bottom of the bag. Don't forget to backtack and pull out the pin while sewing.
Step 5: Flat Bottoming Out
To create a flat bottom for your bag, grab one of the bottom corners of the bag and match up the bottom seam (you just stitched) to the side seam. It should make a pointy triangle, with the seam running down the middle, like this.
Sew a seam perpendicular to these seams (making the bottom of the triangle), a couple of inches in from the corner. Repeat with the other corner.
Step 6: The Grand Finale
Now your bag is complete! But before you can get your shop on, you have to roll your new accessory up so it will fit neatly in your bag. First fold the bag in half lengthwise (so the side seam is matched to the side seam), then in thirds. Fold the straps down, and then roll the bag up and use the snap tape to secure it shut.
Paper or plastic? Neither!
Roll up your teeny tiny bag and throw it in your purse (or murse) and get ready to grocery!