How to make a T-shirt bag

How to make a T-shirt bag

A few days ago I asked you, the reader, what you wanted the next DIY post to be about.  The winner, Leah, who earned herself a 20% off coupon for my Etsy store, suggested a how to on making the t-shirt bags that seem to be popping up everywhere. So, I’ve been working the last few days on it and I’ve come up with three different ways to recycle old t-shirts into shopping bags, a sewing option, a no-sewing option and one that is similar to the plarn tutorial.  BTW this project is great because it’s quick, and if you put on a few pounds during the winter now you can dispose of those shirts you don’t wear anymore in a way that you don’t have to feel guilty about!  The shirts that I used were boyfriend’s old ones that we found in the back of his closet.

Sewing Option

What you will need:

Scissors           Sewing machine or needle and thread

Old t-shirt

The first t-shirt to bag creation that I’m going to explain is the one that I think best combines simplicity with the best outcome!  The first few steps for both this and the no-sew tutorial are the same.  First get a pair of nice sharp scissors.  If they’re dull then you’re going to need to add a glass or so of wine to the list of what you will need for this project because cutting through the shirts is going to drive you crazy.  Start by cutting into the sleeve of the shirt heading towards the armpit/shoulder seam.   Don’t cut into the seam, instead when you reach it, turn your scissors and cut just outside the seam.  The easiest way that I’ve found to do this was by sliding your scissors sideways to the seam so you know you’re not cutting into it.  By leaving the seam you avoid the handles unraveling over time.  Do this to to both of the sleeves.  Once both of your sleeves are off avoid any man in the house because they may reclaim their shirt at this point and begin posing in the mirror.  Mine didn’t do it but I can definitely see it as a possible outcome.  🙂

Reclaim your project and decide what shape you want the top of the bag to be.  I personally like a squared shape, but you can use circular instead if you want.  Simply lay the shirt flat and cut out whatever size you choose from around the collar.   

Here’s where the sewing comes in.  Turn the shirt inside out and line up the bottom seams.  Sew along the bottom just inside of the seam, remembering to back tack or knot at both the beginning and end.   At this point technically you have a bag and you could stop here.   I wanted mine to have a squared bottom so I pulled out the sides and held them down to the bottom seam and sewed over them so I would have a triangle.   (Yes I know I should have fixed by nail polish.  What can I say, crafting is hard on manicures)  After doing this on both sides, when you turn it right side out you will have a rectangular bottom.  This part might be kinda confusing so if you get lost just e-mail me at or comment below.

No-Sew Option

You’ll need:

Scissors            old t-shirt

Safety or bobby pin

To start this project simply do the sleeve and collar steps from above.  Once that is done, take scissors and make a slit in the bottom seam of the shirt/bag up to the seam line, don’t cut through the seam!   You will then need a drawstring.  You can use like a shoelace if you wanted but I didn’t have any lying around so I cut a strip from the removed collar section.  I did this by cutting in a circle so that i would have a long, though kinda bendy, piece.  Now’s the fun part *sarcasm*.  Use either the safety pin (put the pin through the end of the strip) or the bobby pin (loop it through the end of the bobby pin) and begin to feed the strip through the pocket that is made by the bottom seam of the shirt.  Use the pin to help you push the strip through by pushing it through so that the fabric gathers on the pin then extending the fabric back.  When you have gone all the way through the pin should stick out the other side and you hopefully will have a strip going around the whole shirt bottom.  Now simply pull the drawstring until the bottom of the bag is closed.  Then tie off the strip and cut away the excess.

T-shirt Yarn Option

You’ll need:

Scissors        old t-shirts (multiple)

crochet hook

I did not personally do this method but it should be fairly straight forward.  Following the same method as my Lets Make Some Plarn post, you should be able to make t-shirt yarn.  Using this you will be able to crochet it into a bag.  Sorry I just didn’t have enough time to make one of these but I thought that I would include it here as an option.


Either option that you do I would love to see the results or hear what you think of the post!  Also if you have a good idea for a post send it in.  If I use it I’ll send you a coupon code for my Etsy Shop.  Have fun and keep crafting!


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