Monday, January 31, 2011

I’m Just a Little Obsessed!

T-shirt tote 26
I was so distracted last week. I came back to this post that I featured HERE again and again. I am so in love with the idea of making tote bags out of T-shirts. But, I wanted really sturdy bags and no raw edges. It spun around in my brain for a few days and then I had one of those magical *a-ha!* moments when it all became clear. I didn’t have 2 t-shirts, though…

I had to stop by Old Navy for some new jeans anyhow so I sifted through the clearance stuff and found a few cheap (so cheap—they were all on clearance and then 40% off of that price!!) t-shirts to work some magic on. I won’t lie, I bought so many of those cheap shirts that I got a funny look when I was paying for everything. I explained what I was doing—kinda embarrassed—and the salesperson was so excited for me. She thought it was a great idea. And then I got even more excited than before!!

I could hardly wait to get home to sew! It went so quick and I am still in love with this idea—even more than before!

T-shirt tote 30 TutorialMaterials

2 t-shirts that are the same size (or really close!)
T-shirt tote 1


Snip a tiny hole along the armhole seam on the outside (right side) of each t-shirt.

T-shirt tote 2
Carefully cut off the sleeve by cutting right next to the seam, but make sure the serged edge stays with the sleeve section.
Do this for both sleeves on both t-shirts.

T-shirt tote 3

Cut off the binding around the neck edge the same way as the sleeves.

T-shirt tote 4

This is what you should have after removing both sleeves and the neck binding.

T-shirt tote 6

Lay the shirt on a flat surface and smooth it down so the back and front hems line up and the armholes and side seams are lined up and flattened out. Cut out the back neck opening section so it matches the front neck opening.

T-shirt tote 7

Sew the hems together on one shirt using a 1/4 seam allowance. You can double stitch this to reinforce the bottom of the bag.

T-shirt tote 8

Stitch the corner at an angle and trim off the corner. This will help eliminate the bulkiness of the corners and give your bag a more rounded shape. My stitching started about 1 1/2 inches from the bottom, but I wish I had done a little more – maybe as much as 3 inches from the bottom.
T-shirt tote 9

Trim the corners.

T-shirt tote 10

On the other shirt, stitch the hems together in the same manner except leave an opening in the middle large enough to fit your hand through the opening.

T-shirt tote 19

Insert one shirt into the shirt with the opening so that right sides are together.

T-shirt tote 11

Line up the armholes and pin at the shoulder seam and the side seam.

T-shirt tote 12

Starting about 1 inch down from the shoulder seam, sew around the armhole opening ending about 1 inch before the shoulder seam. You will have a gap of 2 inches with the shoulder seam in the center of this. Repeat for the other armhole opening.

T-shirt tote 13

Sew around the neck line in the same manner as the armhole openings; start one inch below the shoulder seam and end one inch before reaching the opposite shoulder seam. Repeat on the back side of the neck opening.

T-shirt tote 14

Carefully cut the shoulder seams off individually. (The light pink is inside of the dark pink, but I am not sure how or why it got turned around for this picture.)

T-shirt tote 16

Turn the bag right side out by pulling the inside shirt (dark pink) through the opening in the outside shirt (light pink).

T-shirt tote 15

Pull out the handles as well.

T-shirt tote 17

Put the shirt with the opening in the hem in the inside of the one without the opening. Then reach in through one of the handles (There is an opening here where you cut off the shoulder seams and left your gap when sewing the handles.) to grab the inside shirt and pull it out so can finish the hem on that shirt. With right sides together, sew the hem opening completely shut and push it back through the handle so it is inside the other shirt again. This is the key part that makes your bag truly reversible.

T-shirt tote 18

Now, smooth the handles in place again like this.

T-shirt tote 16

Pinch one matching set together and move the other set out of the way.
Sew these with right sides together using a 1/4 inch seam allowance.

T-shirt tote 20

Be patient with the second set—it’s a little tricky to maneuver into position to sew together without the first set getting in the way.
 T-shirt tote 21

Lay one set of handles together (wrong sides together) and tuck in 1/4 inch seam allowance through the section which is open on each side of the handle. Pin in place to hold it. I also pinned from the opposite side to be sure my shoulder seam was lined up since knit is a little temperamental and has a tendency to slide, shift and stretch.

T-shirt tote 22

Topstitch around both armhole openings and the entire neck opening. As you topstitch, you will sew together the open parts of the handle with the folded in seam allowance.

T-shirt tote 24T-shirt tote 23

I added my own tag to both sides of this little creation…

T-shirt tote 25

It’s done! Now you can turn it which ever way makes you happy! (Or the cleanest side!)

T-shirt tote 28T-shirt tote 29

In an ideal situation, you would be recycling old t-shirts.

Either way…It’s cheap, sturdy, reversible, and fun!

I didn’t have to convince this little one. She laid claim to it and loaded it up right away!

T-shirt tote 27

It’s a good thing I bought so many of those cheap t-shirts because I can’t wait to make more of these bags.
 I'm just a little obsessed right now!

WaitI did make more! My daughter told me it looked like a tank top so I made it out of a tank top, too!
AND, I used those sleeves that I cut off from the first reversible bag. Be sure you save those sleeves!

I will share a tutorial for this little beauty next!

Tank Tote 1 Tutorial Blank

Tell me what you think—are you madly looking for a couple of t-shirts to make your own Reversible T-shirt Tote?

I'm linking HERE this week!


Unknown,  said... January 31, 2011 at 6:25 AM  

I think I'm in LOVE too! These are soo stinkin cute! Also wanted to let you know that I featured your felt cake on my blog @

The SPANGLER,  said... January 31, 2011 at 8:27 AM  

LOVE this - that owl bag is just too cute! Will be keeping my eye out now for a couple of t-shirts!
Thanks for stopping by my blog The Quick Unpick and leaving your lovely comment... did you check out my giveaway for a $30 voucher to my Shop @ SpaNGle store?
Am off to follow you now... and maybe a dig around in the closet for a couple of tshirts too!

The spangler

Raggedy Baby,  said... January 31, 2011 at 8:42 AM  

ohhh! I want to try it too! Thanks for sharing! Very detailed instructions, and very helpful! Once I get a chance to try it out, I'll share some pics :) Thanks for taking the time to show us how to do it!

Anonymous,  said... January 31, 2011 at 10:56 AM  

Oh my goodness! This is the cutest bag ever! What a great way to turn kids favourite shirts into something useful when they are outgrown too! I will definetly be making some of these!

Nancy,  said... January 31, 2011 at 11:50 AM  

Now I'm gonna have to raid my t-shirt stash to make some of these bags.....or I might just make a trip to Old Navy....hmmm what to do.
You are making my to Do list longer and longer! Just so you know.

Big D and Me,  said... January 31, 2011 at 3:41 PM  

What a fun idea! It think it's also a way to extend the life of a favorite t-shirt even after they've grown out of it. I love the brown bag with roses.
Jennifer,  said... February 1, 2011 at 1:11 AM  

I like the velcro you added to the handles. Great tute! Thanks for linking!

Ellie,  said... February 1, 2011 at 12:35 PM  

Cute! I only wish I had a brown tie-die tank to make one out of...

Erica,  said... February 6, 2011 at 6:24 PM  

so glad to have found this post! I have made tshirt bags before, but always had a hard time making them reversible...somehow I couldn't wrap my head around it :) I will try again now!

jeanette h,  said... February 19, 2011 at 6:17 PM  

WOW what a clever idea,and wonderful instructions, think i might be able to make this bag, thanks for sharing

Unknown,  said... April 1, 2011 at 12:57 AM  

I'm so obsessed with tshirt upcycles, maybe because my craft room is overflowing with them. This is truly adorable!!

Feel free to stop by and link up to my Make & Share 1st edition Fridays if you like.

~ Christy

Anonymous,  said... April 21, 2011 at 9:41 PM  

I love the fact that you lined seems like it would keep it from being too stretchy and sagging. I'm featuring this in my Earth Day round-up tomorrow!

Anonymous,  said... April 21, 2011 at 9:41 PM  

I love the fact that you lined seems like it would keep it from being too stretchy and sagging. I'm featuring this in my Earth Day round-up tomorrow!

Tachi,  said... May 18, 2011 at 5:35 AM  

Thank you owner of this website. You made me pass my project. And by the way i am SO SO in LOVE with your bag. :) And i really really L.O.V.E it!!! THANKS!!

Anonymous,  said... June 24, 2011 at 8:57 AM  

Pure. Genius! I love the way you took an idea and improved it. Your bag looks totally "finished" and is probably a whole lot sturdier! I love that it's lined. Great job! :)

livjoyful,  said... March 6, 2012 at 8:37 AM  

such a "nice: looking bag too. i would even give this as a gift. you are a smart lady. :) thank you so much for sharing.

Raquel,  said... April 5, 2013 at 2:36 AM  

A little late getting here...via Pinterest...but I made this bag today and it turned out awesome! I used a men's small and cut off about 4" from the bottom, so it wouldn't be too saggy. I also added a pocket to the outside/back using one of the contrasting sleeves. The reversible thing was a mind-bender for me but I know it will be easier the next go around...and I will be making more of these!

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