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T-Shirt Tote Bag

High School Construction & Sculpture Activities: T-Shirt Tote Bag

based on 8 ratings

Paper or plastic? How about neither. Both bags produce environmental waste and take months (or in the case of plastic, hundreds of years) to break down in landfills. Instead, choose cotton. Pick a shirt that too old or ratty to wear anymore, but you just can't seem to part with it, and then turn it into a tote that’s shaped just like a plastic supermarket bag. This is a great way to put an end to the plastic shopping bags that come into your house. This is a sewing-free project that any group of creative youngsters can make.

What You Need:

  • An old t-shirt that is at least a large – bigger is better
  • Fabric marker
  • Scissors
  • Fabric glue
  • Newspaper

What You Do:

  1. To make the handles of your new shopping bag, cut the sleeves off the t-shirt, one at a time, at the seam.
  2. To finish the handles and make the opening into the bag bigger, cut off the neck band and some of the surrounding fabric. Because you aren’t following a seam this time, draw a cutting line with the fabric marker. For a smaller opening, draw your line just beyond the neckband. For a larger opening, draw a deeper U-shape. 
  3. Follow this line and be sure to cut through both layers of the t-shirt.
  4. Spread out newspaper to protect your work surface.
  5. Lay the t-shirt on this newspaper, carefully lining up the bottom opening of the shirt.
  6. To close up the bottom of the bag, you are going to glue along the hem of the t-shirt. Fold up the bottom of the top layer of the t-shirt. This leaves the bottom layer, and the sewn edge, exposed. 
  7. Apply glue along the hem from one side of the shirt to the other.
  8. Fold the front of the shirt back down and carefully press it into the glue.
  9. Allow the glue to dry for 2 to 4 hours or according to package instructions. Test to make sure you have glued the bottom from side to side. Add glue as needed and then let dry again.

Embellish your new t-shirt bag with fabric paints. You can make one bag labeled for veggies, another for fruits and a third for grains. Don't limit yourself to making bags for grocery shopping. These bags are great for carrying just about anything.

Updated on Aug 6, 2013
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