Upcycled Tshirt Market Bag (Easy and Super Low Sew!)





Introduction: Upcycled Tshirt Market Bag (Easy and Super Low Sew!)

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I have a pile of tees from various road races and have always said that I'll turn them into a tshirt quilt... but that may never happen, so I'm doing the next best thing and upcycling them into market bags to take to the farmer's market! 
This is an easy project that's so low sew that you could even do it by hand if you wanted to (or maybe "have to" because you don't have a machine).

P.S. If you're like me and hate to waste anything, check out my dog toy tutorial to use up the scraps from this project ;-)

Step 1: What You'll Need:

A tshirt (it doesn't need to be heavy duty thick cotton, but I wouldn't use a super light weight shirt)
Scissors or rotary cutter
Cutting mat (optional but very helpful)

*Note: the size of the shirt will determine the size of the bag. If you only have a large shirt and want a smaller bag, then check out the alternate instructions on Steps 2 and 3. 

Step 2: Making the First Cut

We will be using the hem of the shirt as the top of the bag in this project, so we'll need to cut away the top of the shirt to become the bottom of the bag. Sounds a little confusing, but I promise it's really simple! 

1. With the shirt right side out (words showing), fold the shirt in half lengthwise. 
2. Draw an arc and cut off the neck and sleeves (or you could be really wild and crazy and just cut away!)

Note: I plan on using the inside of the shirt as the outside of the bag so that the words are not showing, so my directions reflect that choice. If you want the words to show (though they'll be hard to read) then just reverse my directions.

Alternate instructions for smaller bag (sorry no pictures, but easy to do):
Instead of cutting on the sleeves and neck away, trace a rectangle that is a little smaller than the size bag you want (because remember, it will stretch).
Have one edge of the rectangle on the bottom hem and another edge along one of the folded sides (to minimize sewing). 

*Don't throw your cut off scraps away, you can turn them into a fun dog toy that will keep your furry friend entertained for hours! 

Step 3: The Only Sewing Step!

Here comes the only sewing step -- and it's almost a french seam! Ooo la la!

1. Pin the curved part that you just cut and sew it shut using the presser foot as your seam allowance. 
2. Turn the shirt inside out (words on the inside now), and top stitch it down. 

Alternate instructions for smaller bag (sorry no pictures, but easy to do):
You will have one extra edge to sew -- the side seam. 

Step 4: Making the Handle

Flip the shirt around so that the hem is at the top and measure about 2 - 2.5 inches down from the hem to cut a long slit for the handle. I made my cut about 6 inches at first (in this picture), but then decided that I'd like to be able to carry it on my shoulder, so I lengthened the cut to about 14 inches. You can cut the handle to be as long or short as you want.  

Step 5: More Cutting

Here's where the fun begins.

1. You can either measure out your cuts of just start making slits in the shirt -- this is a very forgiving project. Since I wanted to write instructions, I used a ruler and basically followed these guidelines:
- Start about 4 to 5 inches below the hem, draw 1.5 to 2 inch lines with about half an inch of space in between the lines. 
- Some of mine were right on the edge, so I made them about half the length of a regular line. 
- Space the rows 3/4 to an inch apart. 
- Try to stagger the lines in each row to make the bag pull apart more easily for a better market bag effect. 

2. You will be cutting through both layers of the bag at once, so you can either use scissors to cut the lines or use a rotary cutter. I found the rotary cutter made it much easier and quicker. 

*No brainer, but thought I'd mention it anyway... if you sewed up one of the side seams, make sure you don't cut thru it! 

Step 6: Stretch and Use!

Streeeeeetch the shirt lenthwise to help the shirt ravel up a bit. If you have time, it's even better if you wash and dry the bag. 
It's now ready for a trip to the market... or in my case, a crochet meetup event ;-) 



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    51 Discussions


    2 years ago

    I love this idea!! Beach bag, grocery bag, kids toys! The possibilities are endless!! And i love your "French Seam " reference! Ooo la la!!

    I was at a Sunday school meeting, and our new director had been cleaning out the supply closet. She had three or four boxes of t-shirts from a previous craft project she was going to get rid of. I asked her for the shirts,and everyone in the meeting laughed at me. I said, "I'll make the project and then I'll show you what I am making." It's been two months and I've given them all bags and they apologized for the snickering. Thanks for this wonderful project!!!

    1 reply

    Thanks for sharing your story! I'm so glad that you won everyone over with your bags! Maybe you can teach it as a VBS craft next summer ;-)

    Love this! It would look really cool to have another shirt inside, not cute, so that the colors contrast and that way the nothing would fall through the holes.

    1 reply

    That's true! I gave one to a friend and she told me her cucumbers kept falling out!! I will have to line hers next time ;-)

    An addition to this that will take it from low-sew to no sew.
    Before you start cutting the slits, cut up both layers together from the bottom 3" slits every half inch. Now tie together the pairs of strips in a reef knot and not only do you avoid sewing but also have also added decorative tassel detail to the bag


    1 reply

    Ooo, super cute idea!! I'm definitely going to try that! Thanks Liam =)

    Great project!! Do you think it is possible to use an old sweatshirt that i have but never wear? Do you think it would be too thick?

    1 reply

    Hmmm... good question. I've never tried it with sweatshirts, so please let me know if you give it a shot!
    (I would try it, but down here in Orlando, I don't get too many sweatshirts gifted to me for crafting :-P)

    Ooo, I hope you do! Sounds like you're going to have some fun with them on your travels!

    I love your idea.....am going to make some! Do you think it would work if you left it as a t-shirt to wear over another colored one? Or, does it have to stretch out in order to get the cool slits? JR