DIY Busters: Fast & Easy No-Sew Upcycled T-Shirt Bag

DIY Fast & Easy No-Sew Upcycled T-Shirt Bag

by Rebecca Rockefeller

Is it possible to make a no-sew t-shirt bag in 10 minutes? A bag strong enough to carry groceries? A bag you’ll want to be seen with?

Yes. Most definitely.

As part of our ongoing Trash Backwards DIY Busters series, I’ve been looking for fast and easy reusable bag tutorials to test. Last week, I tried the No-Sew T-Shirt Hobo Bag. This week, I found a well-crafted tutorial at do stuff! for a 10 minute no-sew recycled t-shirt bag that looked too good to pass up. I wanted to see if Leethal’s 10 minute no-sew recycled t-shirt bag would work with a t-shirt of fairly loose knit, so I tested it out on an old striped shirt.

The verdict: It worked! It was easy, it really did take me about 10 minutes, and the resulting bag is sturdy enough for groceries and so very soft on my shoulder and arm that toting things around in it is going to a be a pleasure. As an added bonus, upcycled t-shirt bags can be washed and dried for years of clean, safe food transportation.

Here’s photographic proof of how easy this is – Please see Leethal’s tutorial for all of the details:

No-Sew T-Shirt Bag Ingredients

What you’ll need:

  • T-Shirt
  • Scissors
  • Safety Pin

Step 1: Cut off the sleeves to make the outside edges of the bag’s handles.

Cut off the Sleeves

Step 2: Cut off the neckline to form the bag’s opening and the inside edges of the handles.

Cut off the Neckline

Step 3: Cut slits in the hem. I went with three slits to create a bag with 3 small holes in the bottom.

Cut Slits in the Hem

Step 4: Cut the sleeves into strips to close the bottom of the bag, then stretch each strip out to roll its edges. Since I had 3 slits in the shirt’s bottom hem, I needed 3 strips. Because my shirt’s sleeves were rather small, I cut 2 strips from one sleeve and 1 strip from the other.

Cut Strips from the Sleeves

Step 5: Stretch each strip to jolly the fabric into rolling its edges. This is where I ran into a wrinkle – Because my shirt wasn’t a standard thick knit, the strips didn’t form nice rolls when I stretched them. No matter, they were still plenty strong, just not very pretty.

Stretch the Sleeve Strips

Step 6: Pick one of the hem slits and thread a strip into it, using the safety-pin as your needle (pin through the end of the strip, then close the pin). Allow the strip to exit from the next slit along the hem and center the strip.

Thread the Sleeve Strips Through the Slits

Step 7: Pull the strip tightly to gather the shirt, knotting the strip securely.

Gather and Knot Each Strip

Step 8: Use a new strip to thread through and gather the shirt’s hem between the next two slits. Work along the hem this way, so that the entire hem is threaded with strips, gathered, and secured with knots.

Gather and Knot the Entire Hem

Step 9: Finish the strips as desired. Since my strips weren’t very pretty, I turned the bag inside out, pulled the ends of the strips through the holes, and tied them into bows on the inside of my bag. When I turned the bag right side out again, the holes were pretty well covered by the bows inside, and the less-than-pretty strips were hidden from view.

Finish the Strips as Desired: Bows or Knots, Inside or Out

Step 10: Use and reuse your upcycled t-shirt bag. I tested mine out with 3 large zucchini and 3 smaller crookneck squash. The bag held up well, no squash escaped or poked a hole through the fabric, and the entire thing felt lovely on my shoulder.

Use and Reuse Your Upcycled T-Shirt Bag

Still looking for some T-shirt reuse ideas? Please visit our Trash Backwards app where we have 50+ T-shirt inspirations.

50+ T-Shirt Inspirations at

Do you have a favorite easy t-shirt bag design that you’d like us to test? Other ideas for DIY reusable bags? Please let us know in the comments below or through our crowd-sourcing tool! And if you try this style out for yourself, we’d love to hear and see how it works for you.

Tags: , ,

Categories: Best of Trash Backwards, DIY, DIY Busters, Repurpose and Reuse, Trash Pile - All Our Stuff, Upcycle


Subscribe to our RSS feed and social profiles to receive updates.

2 Comments on “DIY Busters: Fast & Easy No-Sew Upcycled T-Shirt Bag”

  1. November 7, 2012 at 7:06 pm #

    Nice bag, I made one today.Love the idea of turning the bag inside and hiding the fringe. Thanks!!!


  1. Sarah: 10 Common Products You Never Need to Buy « Suburban Pioneers - February 3, 2013

    […] are two different methods, beautifully explained by our awesome friends at Trash Backwards: 1) The Upcycled T-Shirt Bag and 2) The No-Sew Hobo Bag (the English teacher in me loves the rhyming name of the second, but the […]

What can you add? Please share your ideas.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: