No-Sew 10 Minute T-Shirt Tote

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Introduction: No-Sew 10 Minute T-Shirt Tote

About: Hi, I'm Jen! In my free time I'm a crafter, food lover, and cake decorator. I have a genuine love and appreciation for all things creative and handmade.

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.

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Step 1: 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

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

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

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!

4 People Made This Project!

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49 Discussions

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cammons0806
cammons0806

Tip 3 months ago

I just sent this instructable to my Sister In-Love, it's beautifully done. I also included the following list of "Important lessons learned over the years".... Thought I'd include them here too!

1.Fringe should be at least 1.5".... It'll be easier to tie.
2. If shirt is much larger than an adult Medium.....make very long fringes otherwise it'll sag to the ground when you (over)fill it. (I promise, you'll overfill it!)
3. Youth Small and Youth Medium shirts are perfect for lunches. Youth Large and Adult Small are my favorites for "regular" grocery bag replacements.
4. Kids shirts are usually cheeper and have the better (read: nostalgic) graphics.
5. Sweatshirts (crew, not hoodie, those are expensive!) and long sleeve shirts also work as long as they have some stretch to them but thicker fabrics will fatigue your fingers quickly.
6. You can always cut fringes on all three sides to make use of larger shirts if that's what you've got on hand, but it's going to take more time and your fingers will be tired....be nice to yourself and plan to take it slow. Or, shorten the heck out of that shirt and make an extra wide bag, they're useful!
7. Unless it's the most amazing graphic you've ever seen, NEVER pay more than $1 for a shirt!

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BarbaraF41
BarbaraF41

3 years ago

Super easy!

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wold630
wold630

Reply 3 years ago

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

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 :-)

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RobinP43
RobinP43

Reply 4 years ago

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

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wold630
wold630

Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

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!

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RobinP43
RobinP43

4 years ago

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

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TiffanyT16
TiffanyT16

4 years ago

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.

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RafałH
RafałH

4 years ago

Very cool it looks, the same I have also done so. At the moment I tried the simplest but much less nice http://www.open-youweb.com/how-to-make-at-shirt-bag/ see how this will come out again.
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CalvinY2
CalvinY2

4 years ago on Introduction

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

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kensmaxi
kensmaxi

4 years ago on Introduction

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

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mlevitt
mlevitt

4 years ago

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

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

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MelissaS1
MelissaS1

5 years ago on Introduction

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.

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Southpaw69
Southpaw69

6 years ago on Introduction

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.

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jhyland
jhyland

6 years ago on Introduction

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

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AmyCat59
AmyCat59

7 years ago on Introduction

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...