How to Make a Recycled T-Shirt Tote Bag

T-Shirt Tote Bag Tutorial

For some people a tote bag is essential to everyday life as a grocery bag, beach bag, laundry bag, craft bag, laptop bag, work bag, book bag and many other uses. Tote bags come in all shapes and sizes to fit everyone's needs.

A simple and quick tote bag can be made from t-shirt to bag in less than a half hour. This DIY recycled t-shirt tote bag is so easy even someone learning to sew can make it.  Recycle some old t-shirts into a shopping bag. 

T-shirts can also be upcycled into other crafts. Do you need other craft ideas for t-shirts? Our T-Shirt Recycling page has many craft ideas.  Also, our "Green Crafts, Going Green" department has many ideas.

Watch this video tutorial and read on for a photo tutorial with step by step instructions on how to make a t-shirt tote bag.

Watch our Video Below or Click the link to watch How to Make a Recycled T-Shirt Tote Bag in Youtube.


  • T-Shirt
  • Ruler
  • Scissor
  • Sewing Machine

INSTRUCTIONS FOR How to Make a Recycled T-Shirt Tote Bag


Place the t-shirt on your work surface and flatten it so there are no wrinkles.


How to make a t-shirt tote bag - Cutting Sleeves With a scissor remove the sleeves leaving the seams. The seams will keep the tote handles sturdier and strong.


The next step is creating the opening for the tote bag by cutting off the neck opening. But first decide how to cut it. This decision depends on the design.
How to make a t-shirt tote bag - Plate Template If you want a rounded opening in the bag, use a plate as a template.

How to make a t-shirt tote bag - Opening with RulerIf you want a squared opening, use a ruler to determine the placement of the opening.


How to make a t-shirt tote bag - Trace Opening After deciding, trace the opening with a pencil or pen.


How to make a t-shirt tote bag - Cut Off Neck OpeningWith a scissor, cut the front and back of the t-shirt along the tracing line.

How to make a t-shirt tote bag - Removing Neck OpeningRemove the cut out piece and set aside.


How to make a t-shirt tote bag - Sewing Bottom Closed Turn the shirt inside out and line up the bottom edges. Stitch the bottom closed with a straight stitch. Stitch the seam again to reinforce it.  This will make the bag stronger and hold more weight.


How to make a t-shirt tote bag - Side and Bottom Seams Together I like my tote bags to have a boxed bottom. With this type of bottom, items seem to fit better in the bag and it's easier to load.  To make the boxed bottom, align the side seam with the bottom seam forming a triangle, pin in place.

Measure 2 1/2" from point of triangle, mark with a pencil or a fabric marker as shown above.  The mark is also shown below.


How to make a t-shirt tote bag - Sewing boxed Bottom Stitch along the marked line. Repeat on other side of the bag. Turn the tote bag right-side out and it is finished.

The handy, dandy t-shirt tote is ready to use!  Take your new t-shirt shopping bag with you to the store to bring home your purchases.

How to make a t-shirt tote bag - Tote Finished

Below are other t-shirt to tote bags we made.  These are so quick and easy to make, you can really make a whole bunch in an hour or two!  These would make great gifts too!

T-Shirt to Tote Bag Tutorial - Pink ShirtThis was made from a pink shirt that I used to wear.  It makes a nice bag.  This one is pretty roomy!

T-Shirt to Tote Bag Tutorial - Star Wars Shirt BagThis bag was made from one of my daughter's old shirts!  If you look closely, it is Star Wars t-shirt with R2D2 and C3PO on the front.  This one isn't as roomy since it's made from a kids shirt, but it would be nice for a kid or a quick shopping trip.

What old t-shirts can you reduce, reuse and recycle into a t-shirt bag?




T-Shirt Yarn
T-Shirt Yarn
is a popular way to recycle t-shirts. Learn how to make one continuous strip of t-shirt yarn from a t-shirt. The yarn can to used to make fun crocheting, knitting and weaving projects.

If you want more recycling ideas for t-shirts, you may be interested in books listed below.

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DIY T-Shirt Crafts

From Braided Bracelets to Floor Pillows, 50 Unexpected Ways to Recycle Your Old T-Shirts by Adrianne Surian - Paperback - Published 2015 Affiliate Link to Amazon


Jersey Yarn Creations

This book has 20 projects to crochet or knit using jersey yarn, also known as T-shirt, fabric and textile yarn, is a chunky, stretchy yarn made from strips of jersey fabric. by Alexandre Callier-Taylor - Paperback - Published 2015 Affiliate Link to Amazon


Making Jewelry with T-Shirt Yarn

How to Create Fabulous Fabric Accessories by Lorine Mason - Paperback - Published 2013 Affiliate Link to Amazon


The Upcycled T-Shirt

28 Easy-to-Make Projects That Save the Planet • Clothing, Accessories, Home Decor & Gifts by Jenelle Montilone - Paperback - Published 2015 Affiliate Link to Amazon


Scissors and Rotary Cutters

Scissors, rotary cutters and sharpeners. Affiliate Link to Sold at Annie's Catalog


Sewing Scissors

A huge selection of sewing scissors are available at Affiliate Link to

T-Shirt to Tote Bag Tutorial - Star Wars Shirt Pin

T-Shirt to Tote Bag Tutorial - Pink Shirt Pin

T-Shirt Tote Bag Tutorial - Pin

T-Shirt Tote Bag Tutorial

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