Turn a Freebie T-Shirt Into a Reusable Bag

t shirt made into reusable bag

If you’re like me, you pick up random t-shirts. From events, charities, family… wherever. I often pair my freebie t-shirts with comfy sweats. But when the shirts threaten to take over my closet, I find other ways to use them. With the New Year, I’m committed to using more reusable bags. With just a couple snips of the scissors, and one straight line of stitching (or relatively straight, if you’re not great with a sewing machine), you can turn a t-shirt into a bag!

cut shirt to form bag

Start by laying your t-shirt out flat. If there are designs on the front and back, put the design that comes up the highest (usually the back) face-up. Cut off the sleeves, being sure to preserve the stitching. That means, when you’re cutting off the sleeve, cut on the sleeve part, so that the stitching stays attached to the shirt. This will make your finished handles stronger.

Cut the neck out of the shirt, making an overly-large U shape. You can cut one half, fold it over, and then cut the other half so that the two parts are symmetrical.

Turn the shirt inside-out. Determine how deep you want your bag, and cut off the excess (this shirt is a size M, and I cut off the bottom 5 inches). Sew the bottom closed using the stretch stitch on your sewing machine (leaving a 1/2 inch seam allowance), or with a serger.

Turn right-side-out and you have a finished bag!

Linked up at: Today’s Creative Blog


  1. Very well and creative recycling idea!! I’ve a lot of freebie T-shirts and not being used since a long while and that’s why this idea will be effective for me and I would like to use those of my T-shirts for making freebie t-shirts. So thanks a lot 🙂

  2. Lovely fun idea, it was so fast! I think mine was made in 5 mins start to finish (and I’m very glad to see the back of my hudband’s tatty blue t-shirt- I removed the tatty bits and now it’s a fun bag!) Thanks

  3. I use your basic pattern for grocery bags for my local food bank, with a few alternations: To make this bag more user friendly – square and trim the corners – makes cans and boxes easier to bag and keeps the over all bag from being cumbersome; and, for larger sized shirts, fold the excess fabric at the shoulders and run some anchor stitches to make the bag easier to handle.

  4. ? love the project. Will be ? useing it in my after school program. Thanks for the ideal.

  5. To make it stronger use two t-shirts. Put one right side out and then put one inside out over top. Cut like the instructions say. Sew the arm holes and neck hole. Then turn it so both shirts are right side out with the one you want as the lining on the outside. Cut off the bottom however deep you want the bag to be. Sew across the bottom (I did a couple times for strength) and then turn it so the one you want as the lining is on the inside! Done!

    • Carolina says

      Such a smart idea! Shirts can get very stretchy, especially as they get older… this would make them more durable. 🙂

  6. I have just found this site … thank you for your information. I have been using T-shirts for bags for some time and love them. I have found a tank top offers an alternative when I was doing a training course and had left my t-bag home. The tank top already has the neck and arm holes reinforced with the binding on them. All you have to do is finish the bottom either plain seamed or boxed. A handy traveling tip is to leave the tank top unfinished – leave the bottom hem in tact. Fold or roll in luggage and when you need the tote just turn it inside out – gather the bottom and twist an elastic band around it to secure. Turn right side out and you are ready to go!!

  7. Charmayne Ferrier Brown says

    You can make them with cute kid’s t-shirts too for children to carry smaller items around in.

    Why not make a pile of standard sized bags when you next clear out your wardrobe and donate them to your local charity shop/thrift store? They can sell them for customers to take purchases home in or just to buy because they are cool and better for the environment than plastic.

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