Make a bag from a T shirt: No-Sew Tutorial!

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Leggi questo post in: Italiano

Transform that T-shirt you never wear into something useful! This no-sew tutorial shows how to make a bag from a T shirt. Great upcycling craft for kids! www.cucicucicoo.com

My name’s Lisa and I’m a T-shirt hoarder.

Seriously, I have a problem. Come to my home, and you’ll find numerous containers full of t-shirts. I love them because they’re so easy to embellish or repurpose into other clothing and objects. But another wonderful thing about t-shirts is that the jersey fabric doesn’t fray and frequently it’s nice and stretchy, meaning you can cut it and stretch it out to get all sorts of cool effects, often without even sewing.

This past summer I was brainstorming different ways to reuse the classic tee for the “Reborn T-shirts” stand at the Kreativ fair, and I couldn’t leave out the ever-beloved t-shirt bag. There are so many ways to make a bag from a t shirt, but I wanted to propose something that ANYBODY can do, even without any sewing knowledge.

Transform that T-shirt you never wear into something useful! This no-sew tutorial shows how to make a bag from a T shirt. Great upcycling craft for kids! www.cucicucicoo.com

And just to prove my point, I also did this project with my 9-year-old daughter’s class while making upcycled crafts to sell at the school’s annual charity Christmas market. All the kids brought in at least one t-shirt and turned them into bags. And they LOVED it! They were so bummed out when we ran out of shirts to make bags from! (We also made these egg carton poinsettia ornaments, which are another eco-friendly and kid-friendly craft.)

Do you need one or two extra shopping bags, but don’t want to buy one? Or maybe you have a special t-shirt that brings back dear memories that you can’t bear to get rid of, even if it doesn’t fit you anymore? Or you want a fun activity to do with your kids? Then grab your scissors, and let’s get to work!

Transform that T-shirt you never wear into something useful! This no-sew tutorial shows how to make a bag from a T shirt. Great upcycling craft for kids! www.cucicucicoo.com

First, choose your T shirt. Some tees are stretchier than others, and either type is fine. My family finds the stretchy ones to feel more comfortable on the shoulder and they expand wonderfully to fit quite a bit inside. But non-elastic jersey shirts also work fine.

Lay the shirt out on a flat surface, lining up the sleeve seams and the bottom hem on the front and back. Use your sharp fabric shears to cut off both sleeves and the neckline. Make the cut at the neck a little bit deeper so that you can easily slip the handles over your shoulder. If you have a tank top, you can leave the armholes as they are without cutting them.

Transform that T-shirt you never wear into something useful! This no-sew tutorial shows how to make a bag from a T shirt. Great upcycling craft for kids! www.cucicucicoo.com

Next, cut off the bottom hem, and discard it along with the sleeves (or use the sleeves to make a funky no-sew necklace!)

Then make a series of cuts perpendicular to the bottom hem. The cuts should be about 1/2″ (1 – 1.5 cm) apart and about 3″ (8 – 10 cm) long. If you want lots of fringe at the bottom of your bag or you want to make the inside smaller, make longer cuts. The important thing is to make sure that you are cutting through both the front and the back of the shirt.

Make another cut along each of the side folds to turn the first and last strip into a front and back strip.

Transform that T-shirt you never wear into something useful! This no-sew tutorial shows how to make a bag from a T shirt. Great upcycling craft for kids! www.cucicucicoo.com

Now all you have to do is tie two knots in each pair of strips (front and back), pulling tightly. I always knot on the outside of the bag so as to create a funky decorative fringe at the bottom of the bag, but a few weeks ago (that is, months after I did this project) my sister sent me a link to this video showing that you could also turn the shirt inside out so that the knots and fringe stay on the inside. Choose whichever you like more. It really makes no difference, although I personally wouldn’t want little fringies on the inside of my bag to get tangled up with whatever stuff I toss inside it.

Transform that T-shirt you never wear into something useful! This no-sew tutorial shows how to make a bag from a T shirt. Great upcycling craft for kids! www.cucicucicoo.com

If you trust your kids with super sharp scissors, they can do this whole project on their own. If not, you can do all the cutting and leave the knotting to them, which is what I did when we did this in my daughter’s school.

You can see that the knots gather the shirt’s bottom together, making it smaller than the top, but don’t worry, it will stretch out when you fill it up.

Transform that T-shirt you never wear into something useful! This no-sew tutorial shows how to make a bag from a T shirt. Great upcycling craft for kids! www.cucicucicoo.com

It always shocks me just how sturdy the knots holding these bags together are! You can fill them up, even with heavy items, and those knots don’t budge a bit. They’re actually sturdier than a sewn bottom is!

Transform that T-shirt you never wear into something useful! This no-sew tutorial shows how to make a bag from a T shirt. Great upcycling craft for kids! www.cucicucicoo.com

While preparing for the fair, I wanted to try out another type of t-shirt bag that I’d seen years earlier on the blog Between the lines: a mesh bag.

Transform that T-shirt you never wear into something useful! This no-sew tutorial shows how to make a bag from a T shirt. Great upcycling craft for kids! www.cucicucicoo.com

It’s a pretty similar process to start with. You cut off the sleeves and neck, then you sew across the bottom of the shirt to create the bag bottom.

Transform that T-shirt you never wear into something useful! This no-sew tutorial shows how to make a bag from a T shirt. Great upcycling craft for kids! www.cucicucicoo.com

Then fold one edge of the shirt over a little bit and make some snips with your fabric scissors. Refold the fabric so that more is folded over, and make more snips between the ones you’ve just made. Continue like this until you’ve worked all the way across the t shirt.

The tutorial at Between the lines has vertical cuts, but I made my cuts horizontal like I’ve seen in other bags of this type.

Transform that T-shirt you never wear into something useful! This no-sew tutorial shows how to make a bag from a T shirt. Great upcycling craft for kids! www.cucicucicoo.com

I’ll be honest, though; I’m not crazy about this type of bag. The slits are meant to add stretch to non-elastic materials, like you see in some plastic food packaging, for example. But t-shirts are already stretchy, so the many cuts just make it stretch even more and make the fabric less sturdy.

You can see here how much it stretches out with heavier items (lemons), but even with lighter items (some skeins of yarn from my recent raid at a yarn shop’s liquidation sale) it gets badly stretched out. Plus I really don’t like showing off whatever’s in my bag to the rest of the world. So this ended up being the only t-shirt bag I made like this.

Transform that T-shirt you never wear into something useful! This no-sew tutorial shows how to make a bag from a T shirt. Great upcycling craft for kids! www.cucicucicoo.com

But we constantly use our knotted t-shirt bags! I love how lightweight they are and how you can squash them up inside your bag when you go out. Their flexible, stretchy nature means that they are really comfortable and easily model to whatever you need to carry in them. My kids love that the handles don’t dig into their shoulders like most other shopping totes.

And how awesome is it that you can make these bags in about five minutes with shirts that you don’t use anymore? Instead of adding to the landfill, you create something useful that helps avoid creating yet more waste in the form of disposable shopping bags.

Making these bags with kids is a wonderful way to teach them about environmental awareness while developing their manual skills. And children are so happy when they see that they’ve created something with their own hands!

Did you like this no-sew tutorial on how to make a bag from a t shirt, but you want to sew something a little more advanced? Try out another super eco-friendly shopping bag made from a surprising material: reclaimed umbrellas! Sign up for the Cucicucicoo newsletter and get the FREE downloadable sewing pattern!

21 COMMENTS

  1. Ciao,sono Melissa e sono anch’io un’accumulatrice compulsiva di magliette XD
    Ne ho davvero a tonnellate!E questa borsa la farò sicuramente 😉
    Ne avevo visto anche una in cui per chiudere il fondo infilavano una striscia di stoffa nella piega sul fondo della maglietta(dopo averci fatto un buchino),tiravano e facevano un fiocco.Restava però un piccolo buco sul fondo della borsa!Questa mi piace di più,e quelle frangette sono troppo simpatiche <3

    • Ahaha! Mi sa che siamo parecchie che accumuliamo le magliette! Sì, ci sono tante varietà di questo tipo di maglietta, ma anch’io trovo sfiziosa quella frangetta! Anche in questa rimangono dei piccoli buchi nel fondo, ma non mi ha causato ancora alcun problema. Fammi sapere se la fai! 🙂

  2. È carinissima: la farò senz’altro! Sulla spalla poi, penso proprio che resti morbida morbida….
    Ora devo solo trovare una tra le tante magliette messe da parte, sempre in attesa di qlcs X cui riutilizzarle….
    Grazie di tutti i suggerimenti
    Donatella

  3. These are great repurposes of old clothing. I love to repurpose clothes, I try to make covers of old chairs for them anything but to throw them out. Love what you did here. I am hosting a link party Sweet Inspiration and would love it if you could join us. It runs from Friday till Tuesday.

    • Yes, Mary, I love using t-shirts for just about everything! And when they get too ratty to sew or use anymore, I turn them into t-shirt yarn that I then knit or crochet into rugs and baskets. Thank you for the invitation to your link party! I will come and take a look. 🙂

  4. Molto bello questo progetto, quasi quasi potrei farlo anch’io!!! non ho capito però questo passaggio: “Pratica un altro taglio lungo entrambe le pieghe laterali in modo che la prima e l’ultima strisce diventano due strisce, avanti e dietro, ciascuna.” Potresti chiarirlo?
    grazie
    Abbraccio
    A, Ct

    • Hai ragione, Angie, l’ho pensato quando l’ho scritto che forse non si capiva bene, ma purtroppo non ho fatto una foto per farlo capire meglio. Quando fai i taglietti, le strisce più a sinistra e più a destra saranno come doppi perché c’è la parte avanti e la parte dietro, unite sulla piega laterale della maglietta. Bisogna tagliare su quella piega laterale per creare due strisce, per separarle. Mi sa che ancora non lo spiego bene. Cerco di farci un’altra foto per spiegarlo meglio!
      Comunque, provaci, poi quando cerchi di fare i nodi capirai! è semplicissimo questo progetto, quindi sicuramente ce la farai! 🙂

  5. Ciao Lisa, è tanto che volevo scriverti per ringraziarti dei tuoi tutorial ,e farti i complimenti per l’entusiasmo e l’amore che metti nelle cose che fai! Ma io purtroppo faccio parte di quei lettori passivi(ricordi un tuo post di qualche tempo fa?) che guardano e non commentano ma ,quel che è paggio, non fanno neanche!Allora stavolta faccio!!!! questa borsa è troppo carina e utile e facile che persino una impedita come me la puo’ fare ! Ti faro’ sapere ……ciao

    • Ciao Maddi, quanto sono contenta che hai deciso di lasciarmi un commento! 🙂 Mi sa che siamo tutti colpevoli di fare come dici tu, di vedere e voler fare, ma il più delle volte non si fa. Ma in questo caso davvero chiunque ce la può fare e ci vuole anche pochissimo tempo. Dai, fallo sforzo e poi fammi sapere com’è andato!

  6. Ciao,Lisa, sai che anch’io ne ho già fatte alcune? Sia per noi che da regalare. Con una variante che ti voglio suggerire e che è un po’ più sfiziosa, da bimbetta… Avevo alcune maglie di mia figlia di quando era piccola (circa 8 anni) e non ne uscivano borse capienti, quindi ho fatto le frangette anche sugli altri lati, ho fatto riprendere i manici con la tagliacuce a mia sorella e ne sono uscite delle miniborse da passeggio. Mi sono state poi richieste da mamme le cui figlie non volevano separarsi dalla loro maglietta preferita!
    Un caro saluto
    Donatella

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