Introduction: Teeny Tiny Fold-Up Shopping Tote

Picture of Teeny Tiny Fold-Up Shopping Tote

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

Picture of 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

Picture of 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

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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!

Picture of 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

Picture of 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

Picture of 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!



Comments

janetsellers08 (author)2011-02-06

Well, you inspired me. Then, I thought, why not just gather the bottom with a ribbon through the hem and tie it tightly... almost instant tanktop bag. Stuff the ribbons in to the bag when in use, folds flat when not in use.

pixie989 (author)2009-12-02

Great Instructable. I am definitely going to  make a ton of these as Christmas presents. The only thing is that I have never owned a rayon tank and I checked my favorite thrift store and all I could find were rayon mixes and not many of them. Is there another fabric you would suggest? For instance would polyester work?

Dorion (author)2008-08-07

Shouldn't the pieces of snap tape actually not be facing each other? Like, they'd both have the "action" side facing either right or left when being installed... then when wrapping, one goes around the front of the roll and the other around the back, then the snaps line up. Or maybe I am envisioning it wrong...

jumpthejive (author)2008-04-25

instead of resewing the straps, can't you just turn the shirt on it's side and sew the bottom seem from back to front and not left to right? this would cut one step out completely.

stitchlounge (author)jumpthejive2008-04-25

As we mention in step 1, if you are really in a super rush to get your grocery on, yes, you can skip this step. While it can be a time-saver, it will leave your bag looking a little less polished and it won't open as wide as if you take them apart first. But it's dealers choice, so if you want to skip those steps... go for it!

Bitsi (author)2008-04-16

Very clever. I think I might use velcro instead of snap tape though. :-)

stitchlounge (author)Bitsi2008-04-17

way to think outside the toot, babair! we like it! you could also use plain ribbon and tie it up, or sew a button and buttonhole onto two strips of fabric, or...

SlothOnSpeed (author)2008-04-16

What an amazing use of items that are sitting in my "Goodwill Donations" bag! I think I have to do some digging (and then a teeny bit of sewing) tonight. Thank you. I think of this as the best kind of recycling. You took an item that was practically worthless and changed it entirely with very little effort. I can see giving these as gifts and not one person would recognize the shopping bag (I'd call it a tote) as being an old tank top, even if the recipient gave me the tank top in the first place. Great job!

aw, shucks, thanks sloth! come by and say hi if you're ever in SF!

jessyratfink (author)2008-04-16

You know, I really have to say that I love you guys being on instructables! I typically visit whenever you're on craftzine or another blog, but here I'll see things more often. :D

thanks so much for your nice words, jessy! have fun with your project, we'd love to see it! send us a photo of your totes!

fungus amungus (author)2008-04-16

Love it!

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Bio: Stitch is a women-owned business providing an inspirational, supportive environment for people to express their individuality by creating their own clothing and clothing accessories. Tools ... More »
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