​How to make a reusable tote bag out of an old t-shirt

Meggan Franks, Baker, Lindsay

Here is an opportunity to take an old t-shirt and make something useful out of it by creating a reusable bag. This is a simple no-sew craft that can be done with youth. It can be used for anything from a beach bag to a reusable grocery tote. You can also make this a service-learning project by donating your bags to a local food pantry to help transport food items. Locate a food pantry at find your local foodbank website.


  • Scissors
  • Old t-shirt
  • Colored tape
  • Ruler or tape measure
  • Bowl (optional)
  • Magic marker (optional)

Time Required:

  • Approximately 30 minutes


Step 1: Cut off the sleeves so that you cut the fabric just past the seam where the sleeves were sewn to the shirt. To help make the cuts even, you can fold the shirt in half and try to cut the sleeves at the same time (you will need sharp scissors for this to work).

Step 2: Cut off the collar of your shirt in a slightly oval shape or round shape (tip: turn a bowl upside-down and use a magic marker to trace an outline before cutting). This cut will create the straps of your reusable bag, so cut it to your preference.

Step 3: Decide how deep you want your bag to be and cut off the bottom part of your bag. Remember that you will lose some length to the fringe, so try not to cut the bag too short.

Step 4: Turn your bag inside out, then use scissors to cut the fringe for the bottom of the bag. Use a piece of tape to mark your cut line (about 3-3.5 inches up), then cut slits from the bottom of the shirt to the tape line, making your slits about ½ to 1 full inch apart. You will want to cut the front and back of the shirt at the same time.

Step 5: Tie the fringe. First, tie the front and back together. Next, go back again and tie the fringe knots together again from left to right. If you lift your bag up, you will notice there are holes between each fringe knot; work to cover each hole by continuing to knot the fringe pieces together.

Step 6: Once your fringe is tied, turn your bag inside out and admire your new creation. For a variation, you can also cut your handles and knot them to create a unique look.

Additionally, you can also create a version with the fringed edge on the outside of the bag.

How to make a tote bag out of a t-shirt

First you will need an old t-shirt.

Cut the sleeves

Next you will need to cut the sleeves off.

When you cut the sleeves

Cut the fabric just past the seam where the sleeves were sewn.

Cut off the collar

Cut off the collar of your shirt.

Cut off the bottom

Cut off the bottom and start cutting your fringe.

Cut the fringe

Cut your slits about ½ to 1 inch apart.

Tie the fringe

Tie the fringe.

Complete your bag

Turn your bag inside out and admire your creation.

5/11/2020 4:56:31 PM
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