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How To Make A No Sew T-Shirt Tote Bag In 10 Minutes

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How to make an old t-shirt into a CUTE tote bag/ farmer's market bag in 10 minutes.

So, the other day . . .

Daddypotamus stopped by Whole Foods after picking up produce, meat and cheese from our local farmers market. The cashier took one look at our reusable bags and, um, insisted on giving us new ones. Apparently, they don’t like the look of them after they’ve been repeatedly dragged along the ground by children who “help” unload the groceries.

Anyway, I’ve been looking for an easy-to-carry, washable alternative for the kids to use, and over the weekend I came across the perfect solution. My local thrift shop was selling cute t-shirts for 99 cents apiece that were practically begging to be upcycled into a farmer’s market tote. They’re 100% washable, and when they’re no longer useful as bags I can cut them into rags to clean with.

There was just one problem: I can’t sew. At all.

Fortunately, I came across some no-sew ideas that Katie and I adapted to fit our style (which, if you’re curious, generally favors the color red and anything Snoopy). The took no more than 10 minutes from start to finish, and I love how they turned out.

How to make an old t-shirt into a CUTE tote bag/ farmer's market bag in 10 minutes.

How To Make A No Sew T-Shirt Tote Bag

Supplies

  • Old t-shirt – The thicker the fabric, the sturdier the bag
  • Sharp scissors
  • Washable marker (optional)

Directions

Step 1: Cut the sleeves off

How to make an old t-shirt into a CUTE tote bag/ farmer's market bag in 10 minutes.

If you’d like to fold the t-shirt in half you can cut both sleeves at once so that they are identical. Or, if your material is too thick to cut them both at once, you can cut one, then fold it in half and use the cut side as a guide for the next sleeve.

Step 2: Cut the neckline area

How to make an old t-shirt into a CUTE tote bag/ farmer's market bag in 10 minutes.

If you’d like, you can turn the shirt inside out and trace the outline of a bowl before cutting. I used both methods and personally, I like free-hand cutting better because I prefer a slightly oval shape to a perfectly round one. I ended up trimming this one a bit to make it more oval.

Step 3: Determine how deep you want the bag to be

How to make an old t-shirt into a CUTE tote bag/ farmer's market bag in 10 minutes.

If you haven’t already turned your t-shirt inside out, do it now. Determine where you want the bottom of the bag to be and trace a line across. Keep in mind that depending on the fabric used, your tote is likely stretch and become longer when it’s filled with stuff.

Step 4: Cut fringe

How to make an old t-shirt into a CUTE tote bag/ farmer's market bag in 10 minutes.

Now grab your scissors and cut slits from the bottom of the shirt up to the line marking the bottom of your bag. You’ll want to cut both the front and back layers together because they need to match up for the next step.

How to make an old t-shirt into a CUTE tote bag/ farmer's market bag in 10 minutes.

I cut my slits about 3/4 to 1 inch apart.

Step 5: Tie Fringe

How to make an old t-shirt into a CUTE tote bag/ farmer's market bag in 10 minutes.

Okay, this is going to sound really complicated, but it’s NOT, promise. Take your first pair of fringe and tie it into a knot, then tie two more pairs. Now if you lift your bag you’ll see that although the pairs are pulling the bag together, there’s a hole between each pair. This next step will close those holes.

In the photo above you see three sets of fringe that have been tied in knots. What I do next is grab one strand from the middle set (the one with the arrow pointing left) and tie it in a knot with one of the strands on the left set. Then I take the other strand from the middle set (the one with the arrow pointing right) and tie it in a knot with one of the strands on the right set.

How to make an old t-shirt into a CUTE tote bag/ farmer's market bag in 10 minutes.

Then I take the remaining strand on the right set and tie it to the next set of strands, and so on and so forth until all the strands are tied. Now turn your t-shirt right side out again and voila, you’re done!

A Couple Of Fun Variations . . .

Turn the bag right side out when tying the fringe. This is one I made for Katiepotamus.

How to make an old t-shirt into a CUTE tote bag/ farmer's market bag in 10 minutes.

Tie the straps in knots, or tie bits of t-shirt scrap to the top as embellishments

How to make an old t-shirt into a CUTE tote bag/ farmer's market bag in 10 minutes.

How to make an old t-shirt into a CUTE tote bag/ farmer's market bag in 10 minutes.

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92 Responses to How To Make A No Sew T-Shirt Tote Bag In 10 Minutes

  1. Sarah says:

    So cute!! Definitely going to try this… now for a trip to the thrift store ;) Thanks for the simple tutorial!

  2. Kathryn says:

    Super cute! Love the fact that you used the front of the shirt as a bit of personalization. I foresee a few of these in my future. Great job!

  3. Thanks! I have been looking for a no sew version of this idea. Woot! I know what we will be using at the library next week.

  4. denise says:

    Excellent! I too do not sew. I have made fleece no sew blankets so this up my alley! Thanks for the share!

  5. Leah G says:

    I can’t sew to save my life despite a family of professional seamstresses. Can’t wait to try this. On a side note. My Hubby came back from the butcher today giddy as a school boy. He had a bag of beef kidney suet with the kidneys still attached. I laughed. This from a former coca cola addict. I thought of you.

    • Heather says:

      Haha! My husband picked up part of a cow share recently and called to ask me if I wanted him to get some cow tongue as well. I was like, “Sorry, no.” I’m just not there yet :)

      • Ina says:

        Tongue is delicious! Moist and very tender.
        Scrub it under running water, put in the big slow cooker, cover with water. Add salt, garlic, an onion, some bay leaves, peppercorns, juniper berries if you have them, do on high for 2 hours, then on low for 5. Remove from heat, let cool a little, peel the outer skin off, your pets will love the skin.
        Slice, great on sandwiches or served with a raisin, mustard or horseradish sauce.

      • Ashley says:

        Never tryed it

  6. Ellie says:

    I love this. I have many t-shirts that are so cool but can’t wear any more or have too many of so I have to thin out to make room in my draws:-)

  7. lyss says:

    Love it! I need to make some grocery bags. Most of mine are wearing out, too. I much prefer my fabric ones that I can throw in the wash, over the reusable ones you get for a dollar or two. I’d sew the bottom with a machine, but for those who don’t have one, this is awesome!
    Quick question…did you make the round rug? If so, is it made from t-shirts? I’ve seen some similar, and I just love it!

    • Lori Gearheart says:

      I’m insanely curious about the rug as well & would shout Woo Hoo if it was made from T-shirts & there was a tutorial!!! Love that rug!!

  8. Andrea says:

    My daughter (13) saw this post this afternoon and has spent the rest of the day going through her old t-shirts (and mine!) and making these bags. We now have several really cute shopping bags!

  9. Adorable idea! I think these will be stocking stuffers for my 14 grandkids this year.

  10. Sara says:

    Love this! My husband is always bringing me home event t-shirts that I’ll never wear (aside from pajamas) but wouldn’t mind using them as a shopping bag. I can totally see using concert or festival t-shirts for this! Thanks!

  11. Sheena says:

    Great stuff! If only I would remember to take the bags out of my car instead of filling my purse!

  12. […] Make A No Sew T-Shirt Tote Bag In 10 Minutes […]

    • Faith Bloome-Krupnik says:

      Brilliant!!! Thank you for this great and SO practical project, Mommypotomus! Got to run now and grab some T-shirts!
      Faith
      Netanya, Israel

  13. Sarah says:

    Thank you! My girls just got finished making this. So cute and very simple!

  14. Dawn says:

    Such a cute idea! I love the rug in the background too! ;) Would you mind sharing where that came from?

  15. Lark says:

    Where did you buy the your beautiful round braided wool rug in the last picture? Please tell me!
    {b.t.w thank you sooo much for your blog, such a blessing to so many mamas}

  16. Monica says:

    BEST idea, ever!!! Thank you! ❤

  17. Amy says:

    I am so happy to stumble across this tutorial! I have a million tshirts I can’t let go of but that I surely do not wear. And we looove bags in this house! I’m turning them into tote bags immediately! Thank you, thank you, thank you :)

  18. This is so cool! I have been wanting to do something like this for a while but didn’t know how to go a bout it. Thanks for the awesome tutorial!

  19. This is wonderful….. I always felt that some of the grocery bags that are sold as cloth bags do not last as long as they should and they are not too good in the wash…
    Our Girl’s Empowerment Program has recently opened a Thrift Store here on Guam and we have so many t-shirts we are selling them for 4 for $1….. I’d love to have the girls make these bag as a fundraiser for our arts & crafts programs.

  20. This is adorable! Love them so much! And so simple. Thanks for sharing! <3 <3

  21. Patricia says:

    Love this! So easy you could even do it with your kids. Thanks for sharing :)

  22. Val says:

    Its a great idea! I made it with my three kids and they love it! They decided to decorate it with ribbons made with the sleeve remains. Also, we put beads with hot silicone.

  23. Anything new sew is right up my alley. Love this idea!

  24. Shirley Cole says:

    Great way for bags for grocery store. Here where I shop at Krogers I get 5 cents back for each bag we bring in to carry out our grocerys. Win win. Give as gifts that way to friends without it being expensive but thoughtful. Get read for any gift giving time.

  25. Lynn says:

    I just made this and it is darling. The,t-shirt was an extra large and took me a lot longer than 10 minutes, but it turned out and my husband didnt believe I made it without sewing! Thank you.

  26. I love this idea! I think I’ll make a bunch of these but just sew a super quick stitch across the bottom instead of tying. It would seriously only take 4 minutes so it’s perfect!

  27. Mary says:

    I need to try that, looks so cool and easy!

  28. lillie says:

    Target has red snoopy shirts in the big boys clearance section for 3.88.l

  29. Very interesting. Going to make for my grandchildren.

  30. Patricia Hardman says:

    This is a great idea for putting books or anything else you want to use it for. Love it

  31. pam says:

    OK…maybe it’s just too early in the day for my little brain…

    On the red and white striped bag you show, where’s the fringe? In the Snoopy shirt example the fringe hangs down. In the striped shirt example it’s not there.

    Help! I prefer no fringe but I cannot sew either!

    • Heather says:

      Pam, when the fringe is not visible it’s because it’s inside the bag. When I made the Snoopy bag I turned it inside out, tied the fringe, and then turned it right side out again.

  32. Jearise says:

    I love this idea. I’ve seen other variations of it but none quite like this. I want to try it with some t-shirts we have that the kids have outgrown. I know they’ll love the idea especially my daughter. BTW someone posted your idea with a link to your blog on FACEBOOK so your idea is make the internet rounds. :)

  33. Che-Cheh says:

    Love the idea of tying the fringes. So glad no sewing is needed because I can’t really sew! I have a couple of old tees waiting for me to turn them into tote bags! Thanks. :)

  34. Andie says:

    I love this idea, I think it’s great.. but PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE do NOT go out and buy shirts from thrift stores (or bargain stores) specifically for the purpose of cutting them up to make bags. PLEASE use ones you already have at home.

    Some people have to rely on thrift stores for their every day wear because they cannot afford to buy brand-new clothes and every shirt that someone buys from a thrift store (same goes for the cheap shirts from Target) to make a bag means a shirt that someone who actually needs a shirt to wear rather than a cute shopping bag goes without.

    Upcycling is great, but not at the expense of people who need access to inexpensive clothing.

    • Pam Medlin says:

      We’re such a wasteful society that I highly doubt someone would end up going without because people buy a few t-shirts at a thrift store.

  35. Pamela says:

    So easy and really neat. Will be doing this with my grandchildren. Great project for just about any group to do.

  36. Kristina says:

    if you cut the shirt while it’s wet, then throw it in the dryer, the cut parts will roll under for a more “finished” look!

  37. Merri says:

    Oh boy…headed there RIGHT NOW to create my new bag!!! Excellent ideas! Thanks

  38. rosey_cheeks says:

    Love the idea of t shirt bags!!! For those of us who hang our laundry outside, it would make a great clothes pin holder also using a small t shirt. I was happy to come across your blog, thanks

  39. kari says:

    What size tshirt did you use? Do you have any idea what size tshirt makes what size bag? Thanks!

  40. Christine says:

    I’m wondering about the top when you’ve cut off the sleeves/collar… without hemming the fabric there does it curl/get messy/unravel at all? It seems a lot easier than the sewing versions, but that’s the difference I’m most curious about. Thanks for a no-sew option!!

  41. Toni says:

    I LOVE THIS IDEA. I collect tote bags, but sometimes they are kind of heavy. These will be great, I love that they are washable and they take up almost no room to store, when not in use. Thanks for sharing this idea!!!

  42. This idea is really cute and fun!! I love taking my re-usable bags to the store and it is even more rewarding when some of the stores give back a bag credit for bringing in our own bags. I can’t wait to make one to use and find a cute top at the thrift store to up-cycle it as a bag. This post reminds me of how I made my No Sew DIY T-Shirt Infinity Scarf out of a top. Thank you for sharing this idea. It’s brilliant!

  43. […] no-sew t-shirt bag takes just 10-15 minutes to make. I have several, which moonlight as reusable shopping bags, snack […]

  44. Heather says:

    Thanks for this project! I had 2 old teeshirts from The Common Ground Country Fair in Maine and loved the graphics but the fit and material weren’t good for wearing. I didn’t want to throw them out so now they are shopping bags!

  45. LN says:

    Great idea, but: there are so many sleeveless t-shirts, would these not work better and allow less cutting? And why would we want to cut the neckline off when they are usually already seamed? We could just fringe the bottoms and tie or us with sewing machines just turn the tees wrong side out and stitch, and we are ready to go when the tee is turned right side out?

  46. Cathy says:

    No need to limit this idea to grocery bags. They make a great gym bag, as they will hold everything, change of clothes to gym shoes. At the end of the day, throw all the stinky into the wash, including the bag!! Also great for Famer’s Market days. They will get dirty, throw them in the wash! Take one along on your picnics, just toss all the dirty containers in the bag! The possibilities are endless!! I have ben using them for years. Enjoy!!

  47. Erin says:

    What a great idea. Thank you for sharing!

  48. Rosa says:

    Love the idea – I don’t sew, and this is also a teachable craft for Girl Scouts of all ages, thank you for sharing!

  49. Tikvah says:

    Love this simplicity. I didn’t want to invest in or use hampers to carry my fresh laundered clothes when I do my laundry or a storage bag for comforters now I can create a sac bag just for this purpose. And find a big enough stretchy tshirt ;)
    Thankful
    Tikvah

  50. Carol says:

    Thanks for directions. I would like to print the directions for No Sew Tshirt Bags, but don’t want all the extra ads, etc. Would you please email to me. Thank you.

  51. I love this! I do not sew and think this is great for all of us non-sewers! Thanks for sharing! BTW-great directions!

  52. Penny D says:

    So timely to have spotted this on FB this morning! My great nephew turns 1 this weekend and I collected a dozen board books thru thrifting to celebrate his first year! But, the presentation plan was, unfortunately, missing from my brain!OF COURSE – A BABY BOOK BAG!!! THANKS FOR SHARING :*)

  53. Carlie says:

    love your idea! I did similar for a project for kids. Had many fabric paints and because one of the celebrations was a 60th birthday party, theme being When I am old I shall wear purple, everybody was treated to a purple t-shirt and red ball cap. For the kids the next day I had the shirts ready for the to decorate with their own art. Then, I cut them out with the help of 2 aunts when they were dry and sewed the bottoms up. The kids loved their personalized bags and my goodness we had some budding artists in the group. Too cute!

  54. Theresa says:

    This is a cute idea. I will pin this so our kids can try it when they are learning to tie knots. I will try a ‘sew’ version because it will be faster. So, we will try out your idea two ways. I love the knotted strap variation. Very cute. Thanks for the inspiration!

  55. Jill says:

    I just made one. I’m not very crafty, but this was easy enough. Thanks for the idea!

  56. Lorraine says:

    Could also use the bottom hem for a draw string closing, using an old shoe string.

  57. Whitney says:

    I saw this on Pinterest last night and I just had to try it out. I have so many tops that don’t fit anymore, I love the idea of up-cycling them into something useful like this! The bottom of mine didn’t turn out as good as yours did but there weren’t any holes when I got done with it so I was happy with it. I’m not crafty at all but this came out so adorable. I can’t wait to try it on my favorite shrunken sweater next! Thank you so much for the easy tutorial.

  58. These are wonderful! Such a cute idea for adorable shirts you don’t want to wear anymore (or at all; I love the graphics, but hate wearing tee shirts). I’m going to run this by my husband, and if he likes it we’ll soon have something like ten new bags – he doesn’t get rid of shirts he stops wearing, because there’s an emotional investment. #wink This is way better than a tee shirt quilt, that’s fun but doesn’t fit in with your decor in the least.

  59. Tresia Streeter says:

    Cute ideas. Thank you.

  60. Colleen says:

    I just made this and I really enjoyed it! Very easy and fun, thank you!

  61. Heather says:

    I just tried this for the first time, and even though I read the instructions several times before I started, I still managed to mess it up. I drew the line where I wanted the bottom to be, and then cut it right then instead of cutting the fringe up to that point! AAARGH. So now I have a really short bag with really open sides. Lesson learned!!!

  62. Pooja Jena says:

    Idk how to fringe knot

  63. Hannah says:

    That is the best idea ever! I made my own and it looks fantastic ( I must say)!

  64. Casey says:

    OMG i just made one it worked out so well i will definately be making mote of these

  65. ecogoodz says:

    Great project! We’ve actually featured your t-shirt totes in our blogpost ‘Free {and almost free} Earth Day Crafts for Kids That You’ll Actually Want to Keep. You can read it here:

    http://ecogoodz.com/blog/free-and-almost-free-earth-day-crafts-for-kids-that-youll-actually-want-to-keep/

    We applaud your thriftiness, ingenuity and commitment to sustainability!

    -Ecogoodz, a used clothing wholesaler

  66. Kelly says:

    I had a shirt that has been sitting in my bottom drawer for 6 years now. It said “Best Mom Ever~Mother’s Day 2009. Needless to say, it’s a bit outdated and too small. But I couldn’t dare throw away something my kids got me for Mother’s Day! It has now been brought back to life as the coolest bag ever! Thanks so much for helping us ‘no-sew folks’ repurpose some treasures!

  67. Thanks !
    It’s a beautiful idea !

  68. Jackie says:

    Such a good idea!! I am participating at our local Relay for Life Cancer Event and I will be making several of these totes from old Relay t-shirts that we have accumulated from past events. I know it will be a hit! Thanks so much!

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