Tutorial time! I got a gig teaching a recycled t-shirt project at the library a few months ago, with a request for a recycled tee bag – the only bags I’d made from tees in the past had required sturdy sewing, and I didn’t want hand-sewing to be the only thing holding the bottom closed in a class version of the bags, so I started brainstorming about some kind of hand-sewing-friendly or no-sew bag idea…. and here’s what I came up with!
The simplest version of these bags is great for smaller tees, or the more light-weight kind of girl-tees – just turn the bottom of the shirt into a drawstring and tie it closed! As you can see, even with a not huge tee, this will still leave a significant hole in the bottom of your bag, but for purposes like grocery shopping, this size hole shouldn’t really matter…
But to make smaller holes, just make more than one of them! Here’s a bag bottom with 2 holes:
And now for the actual tutorial – for this one, with the step-by-step, I will be making the bottom with 3 holes. So, start with a t-shirt that you don’t wear anymore, or a fun one you found at a thrift store. Besides a tee, you’ll also need scissors and a safety pin. That’s it!
Cut the sleeves off, but try to make a somewhat straight line, and go in a bit from the seam – these lines will be the sides of your straps:
Cut some strips from those sleeve pieces – about half an inch wide, the length of one time around a sleeve is good, and as many strips as the number of holes you’ll be making in your bag bottom. (I’ve made bags with 1, 2, and 3 holes, but I haven’t tried more than that.) Pull the ends of the strips to stretch them out and make them curl in:
Cut the neck out to become your bag’s opening – the way you cut this can depend on your tee’s picture (if there is a picture), and also the shape you want your bag. Just make sure you cut a big enough opening to fit things through, for a functional bag:
You could make it rounded, V-shaped, or squared like this one:
Now the top/straps part is done, time for the bottom. Snip slits in the hem part of the tee bottom – as many slits as you want holes. 3 slits, below, is for 3 holes, for a single hole, like the yellow one at the top, just cut one slit, and for 2 holes, snip 2 slits. The slits should be equally spaced from each other, but the spacing doesn’t need to be exact – I just eyeballed my slit placement, no measuring:
Now stick a safety pin through the end of one of those strips you made, and start running it through the hem, through one of the slits:
Run it through to the next slit (or all the way around and back to the beginning, if you’re making a single hole) and pull the cord so it’s centered-ish:
Tie the hole closed as tightly as you can, and tie a tight knot:
Now repeat those steps for the remaining sections, one slit to the next, tie tightly. This is after the second hole is closed:
For an ultra sturdy bag bottom, tie one cord strand from one hole together with one strand from the hole next to it, tightly, and repeat for each strand (as many of these knots as the number of holes you have; ignore this step if you’re making a single hole), so that the holes are all tied to each other.
Now, you can choose whether you want the t-shirt cord ties hanging down at the bottom, or hidden on the inside. To hide them inside, bring them through the center, then tie bows on the inside so they don’t fall back through. Or, tie bows on the outside if you prefer (or you could just cut the cords short and skip the bows):
My finished Sonic bag!
The 1-hole version of this project takes more like 5 minutes, but the more holes you have, the longer it takes (by a few minutes) – it’s my favorite kind of project: 100% recycled materials (in this case, just the tee and nothing else!), minimal tools, quick+easy, and a super useful finished product!
I made these for everyone in my family as extra bonus xmas gifts – my mom just told me she’s been using hers all the time and they are stronger than she would have expected. I even used my family’s bags to wrap their gifts in, to save on paper wrapping waste and because it looked fun!
I failed to show you this idea before the holidays, but you can always save it away in your memory (or bookmarks) for your next gift-giving occasion. I hope you love this project as much as I do! Now go and make lots of them so you’ll never be without a reusable shopping bag again!