Less Noise, More Green: Upcycled t-shirt bag tutorial

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Upcycled t-shirt bag tutorial

I am always looking for ways to re-purpose our stuff. Any day I can keep items out of the trash, recycle bin or donation pile is a good day. To my mind, one of the saddest results of our consumer culture is the lack of creativity. Previous generations could see usefulness in their belongings beyond their original purpose and came up with really creative ways to extend the life of their things. Granted, items were made of better quality materials and people had the skills needed for these projects, but they also had the mindset not to be wasteful and to value their belongings.

Today we have given this idea a new name - we call it 'upcycling' and those with the skills to do it are called artists. I believe we all have a little artist in us and with the willingness to learn new/old skills, we can make unique and useful items out of our otherwise to be discarded stuff.

Clothes can be the basis for great upcycling projects.  This t-shirt bag took me about thirty minutes to  make and the end result, I think, is really cute and practical. It is also a perfect project for a beginner sewer. You can find many versions of this project online and I did not follow any one particular pattern. Feel free to suggest a variation in the comments!

T-shirt Bag Instructions

Lay your t-shirt out flat. Carefully cut off the arms, keeping the seam attached to the shirt. Cut as close to the seam as you can. Once the arms are removed go back and trim the seams again.

Using a round template as a guide (a cardboard circle or a bowl will work) mark a half circle along the shoulder line, going as low as you want, leaving a good margin between the guide and the image on the t-shirt. Cutting through both the front and the back of the t-shirt, cut along the guide mark, removing the neck of the t-shirt.

Turn the t-shirt inside out and pin the bottom edges together. Starting above the hem of the t-shirt, sew the opening closed. I did a second row of stitches for added strength.

To create a more boxy bag, I  sewed across the bottom two corners at a right angle to the seam. See  the photo below.

This creates a nice flat bottom, which is something we all strive for in life!

Iron the bag, then turn it right side out. You are done!

Art Girl put a bunch of art supplies in the bag and it showed no sign of strain.

This bag is remarkably strong and would work well as a grocery bag. As it is Art Girl's old shirt, I am sure she will come up with a good used for it. The image on the shirt is a soot mite and totoro from Hayo Miyazaki's movie My Neighbor Totoro. If you have not seen it, I highly recommend it.

What are some of your favorite upcycled projects?



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