Monday, February 17, 2014

T-shirt Bag Tutorial

T-shirt Bag Tutorial
by Tania Prosser of Fairy Shadow
We all have them, the t-shirts that get left in the drawer month after month, year after year.  Maybe we think the color is unattractive, the neck a little too snug or too loose.  Maybe the design no longer calls out to us to be worn.  Whatever the reason, these shirts are good candidates for upcycling.  (Upcycling is the environmentally friendly art of taking unwanted materials and turning them into better, more useful materials.) Unwanted shirts make the perfect starting point to create your own alternative to plastic sacks.  These simple drawstring bags are easy to make and great for trips to the market, for holding your produce, to store toys, as beach bags, book bags, for environmentally conscious gifting and much, much more!
Getting Started:  Choosing Your Shirt
Choose a shirt that is made of jersey material rather than interlock fabric.  Jersey has a knit side and purl side.  Interlock has the “v” shape weave on both sides of the fabric.  The jersey will curl into the cord that will make your drawstring and interlock will not.  Choose a shirt with a sound hem at the bottom of the shirt.  It will form the casing for the cord to pass through.  
Step One:  Cut the Shirt
Make the first cut just below the arms of the shirt and then a second cut 1 ½" below the first cut.   
This narrow cut will be the drawstring of the bag.
Cut the sides off of both of these cuts, creating two strings and two panels.
Step 2:  Fold and Sew
Fold a panel in half and starting at the hem of the shirt sew a straight stitch down to the bottom.  A second seam closes the bag at the bottom, leaving the opening at the hemmed section. 
Step 3:   Thread the Drawstring
Turn the bag right side out.  At either side of the seam make a small hole in the top layer of the casing (hem).  Jersey stretches so it doesn’t need much of a hole to work.
Take up your drawstring and stretch it to roll the fabric.  Using a safety pin or hair pin, thread the drawstring through the casing.  I like to use a contrasting colored drawstring.  Knot the ends together.  I like to add an embellishment by hand stitching a little circle onto each bag.
Step 4:  Get Creative
You can use this same technique with the sleeves of the t-shirt for small bags.   
These make nice dry lunchtime snack packs too.
Step 5:  Share with Your Community
This project is a great way to introduce children to upcycling.  If your school or community group holds a rummage sale you will often see hundreds of pounds of textiles being offered for sale, much of it going unsold and then donated to charity shops.  Every Goodwill sorting facility processes hundreds of tons of clothing a year.  Consider a class project in which the students harvest from your rummage sale before the final cleanup.  After washing the shirts will be ready for sewing.  If you have fund raising events the students could produce collections of bags to sell at those events, having the satisfaction of both recycling the garments and bringing funds to their school or community group.
A special thanks to Tania for sharing this wonderful upcycling project with us!
Be sure to visit her etsy shop, Fairyshadow for a wide array of upcycled creations.
Connect with Tania via Facebook


  1. Tanya, thanks so much for sharing this! I love the community ideas especially!

  2. Very cool it looks, himself also want to do so.
    I've already done without sewing simple but much less nice
    I am happy to see me come out like this again, I like your idea.