Saturday, July 21, 2012

Easy t-shirt tote tutorial

This is such an easy project, it barely qualifies for a tutorial.  Probably THE easiest tote you can make.  These t-shirt totes are strong, roomy, durable. . . washable!  We've been using t-shirt totes for a few years now, for shopping (when I remember to bring them in the store,) for picnics, hiking, day trips.  If they can haul lunch for a gaggle of hungry Monkeys, you know these suckers are roomy and tough.

This is also an inexpensive project, as you can use t-shirts you have on hand, like those less-than-perfect t-shirts that might otherwise be destined for the rag pile or trash.  I like to pick them up at thrift stores, usually for less than $1.  (One thrift store in the Dallas area would sell 10 shirts for $3.00.  Crazy!)  You can use any size t-shirt you like, but I find that a men's XL works best for our needs.  Anything bigger than that gets a little... wonky.  Too stretchy.  But use whatever you like -- experiment!  Now, on to the tutorial. . . .

Pick a shirt.  This one is a men's Medium.  Nice!

Cut the shirt.
of course, I have to save the scraps for another project.  ;)

Sew along the bottom hem of the shirt.

You can stop now if you like.  I prefer to do one more step, as it makes a very strong seam along the bottom of the tote.  Plus, I can brag that I put in a fancy french seam.  ;)

Turn the tote inside out.

Now sew another seam along the bottom, encasing the edge of the t-shirt (and the first seam) inside this new seam.  It doesn't have to be exact.  Just go on feel.  You can feel the hem of the shirt along the bottom, so just sew the second seam along that.

There.  You just made a french seam! 

Turn the bag right-side out. . . 

Aaaand done.  Easy!

not even half-full. . .

holding 2 lbs of pasta, 2 cans of soup, and almost 3 lbs of oatmeal,
with plenty of room to spare!

Easy, cheap, fun, and versatile!   Whip up a few of these and see what you think.  I bet you'll enjoy using the totes as much as I do!  :)


  1. This would be nicer if maybe you lined it with another tee shirt or knit fabric that you might have on hand. It would make it more durable and would last longer especially if you used a zig zag stitch when sewing the lining to the outside fabric. Great idea though!

    1. Absolutely! Great idea! Thanks for sharing! :)

  2. Love this! Made it in 10 minutes, with the French seam! Thanks!!

  3. I work with high school special needs kids and I think this would be a super fun project for them. :)

  4. Love this idea, used they hubbies old band shirts. Now I am a trending looking shopper. Lol

  5. So, this may seem like a dumb question but, I don't sew, so here we go. Do you have any issue with fraying or tearing of the bag at the neck or shoulder cut-points? I would think that you would need to zig-zag at minimum these raw edges to keep it from ripping or stretching too much

    1. Hi! Not a dumb question at all! Due to the nature of the jersey fabric itself, it just doesn't fray, so no worries with that. They may (and probably will) stretch at the arm and neck holes to a certain degree and then stop. That's OK. You certainly can zigzag the same edges; it would add a nice aesthetic touch but it's not structurally necessary. I've never had a bag rip or tear. :) Great question! Thanks for stopping by!

  6. Do you reinforce the seams along the shoulders at all? Wondering if that might help.

    1. Nope, I never have, as t-shirts are often reinforced there anyway. I haven't had a bag split on me yet! :) But it certainly wouldn't hurt if you wanted to reinforce those seams.


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