T-shirt Tote Bag

T-shirt Tote Bag

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle! We think of this when it comes to everyday trash, but what about old clothes? Transform your old t-shirts from drab to fab by turning them into a bag!


  • Old T-shirt
  • Scissors
  • Washable Marker (optional to mark where to cut)

Step 1: Wash and dry an old shirt to create your upcycled tote bag.

Step 2: Cut off the neckline to create a round opening. For a deep oval look, trim a rounded V shape further down past your neckline cut. Be mindful of cutting into any design or picture on the shirt, as it can add more flare to the bag.

Step 3: Cut off the sleeves.

Step 4: Cut off the hem at the bottom of the shirt. 

Step 5: Cut one-inch wide vertical strips across the bottom of the shirt from front to back, creating a fringe. Make your vertical cuts with carrying space in mind as the shirt will stretch down with items inside. Three to four inches tall will work well. 

Step 6: Begin to double knot each pair of fabric strips (front and back of shirt) into a knot across the shirt. 

Step 7: There will be holes in between these knots. Grab one piece of fabric from each knotted pair on either side of the hole, and then double knot them together to seal it.  

Now you have your very own t-shirt tote! Use it for groceries or everyday items, or even a trip to the beach.  

Ideas to take your t-shirt tote bag to the next level: 

  • Tie extra fabric at the top of the shoulders of the shirt to make thinner handles.
  • Use a large 100% cotton shirt to create a sturdier bag that can hold more items.
  • With the extra fabric, create new projects! Cut the sleeves into strips and braid them for a fun keychain look.
  • Cut off part of the bottom of the t-shirt to make the bag smaller. Use the extra fabric to make a scarf for your little one! Just wear it like a necklace, then twist and loop it around like you would a regular scarf. 

Learning and Discussion Questions:

1. Think about how much plastic could be saved by bringing your t-shirt bags to the grocery store! Since these bags are easy to make, you can make an easy dozen (12) or so with old shirts found at the bottom of your drawer. 

  • Around 300 plastic bags were used by a single person in America each year! That is a lot of plastic and damage to the environment. Those bags are being dumped in landfills and blown into our oceans. Visit this site to learn facts about plastic waste, what they do to our environment, and how to replace everyday plastic items. Let’s make Earth Day every day! 

2. What are some other plastic items in your house that you use? What kind of recycled craft could you make to replace it and help save the environment? Talk about it with your parents to see how you can be environmentally friendly, reduce plastic usage, and help save the Earth.

Thank you to our sponsor, PNC Arts Alive!, for helping to make this video possible!

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