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

Affiliate Disclosure | in Crafts | by | with 98 Comments

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

  1. Rhonda Brady says:

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

  2. 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 :*)

  3. 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!

  4. 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!

  5. Jill says:

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

  6. Lorraine says:

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

  7. 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.

  8. Alena Belleque says:

    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.

  9. Tresia Streeter says:

    Cute ideas. Thank you.

  10. Colleen says:

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

  11. 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!!!

  12. Pooja Jena says:

    Idk how to fringe knot

  13. Hannah says:

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

  14. Casey says:

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

  15. 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

  16. 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!

  17. La p'tite bricole says:

    Thanks !
    It’s a beautiful idea !

  18. 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!

  19. Nicole says:

    That is such a fantastic idea!! I tried it and my daughter loves her new bag thank you so much!!

  20. josie says:

    thanks i will totally try it. It looks super simple me and my friend will definally try these.THANX

  21. Katy says:

    Hi, I love this idea! I’ve just done one. So easy. Is it ok to trim the fringes when you are finished or do you think they will fray and make it no good?
    Thanks.

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