T-shirt to shopping bag in 10 minutes

A quick and easy upcycling project from our guest blogger, Jenny Hall.

Since the 5p carrier bag levy was introduced in October last year, we’re using around 80% fewer plastic bags in England alone [1]. That’s several billion less bags polluting our oceans or taking hundreds of years to decompose in landfill. What a massive leap forward for our environment in such a short time.

I’m not the most organised of girls, and constantly find myself without bags at the supermarket, paying my 5p penalty pretty regularly. All for a good cause of course with £29.2 million already donated to charity, but I really should sort my life out and gather some reusable bags for the weekly shop. Inspired by an Instagram post from the St Peter’s Hospice Lodge Causeway store I decided to have a go at making myself a ‘t-shirt tote bag’, a really simple craft project with no special equipment or sewing skills required.

First, I needed a suitable tee to transform so I hit the St Peter’s Hospice shop in Horfield for a cup of coffee at Nonesuch Cup and a browse of their ample men’s department. They came up trumps with this fantastic Toy Story t-shirt which makes a perfect candidate for a fun, yet functional tote.

All you need to make your own t-shirt tote is a good pair of fabric scissors, 10 minutes to spare, and a bit of space on the kitchen table.

Let’s start with the handles. Just chop off the sleeves of your t-shirt, slightly inside the seam to get a good clean edge.

Bye bye Bullseye!

Next you need to make the opening of the bag wide enough to stuff your goodies inside, so it’s time to cut a portion away from the neck-hole. You can draw a line to follow if you like but it doesn’t have to be neat, or in any way even. Just go for it!

So that’s the top of your bag dealt with. All that’s left to do is to close up the bottom so your shopping doesn’t fall out. First, decide how deep you want your bag to be. I want to preserve as much of the image as I can so I’m going for a nice long bag which can accommodate a baguette or two. Chop the bottom of your t-shirt into strips around ¾” wide. It doesn’t need to be precise, but do make sure you cut through both the back and the front of your tee at the same time, and that you snip the side seam too to make each end of the shirt into two strips rather than one.

Now comes the bit where you need a clear head and a bit of concentration. Turn your t-shirt inside out, and start by taking each pair of strips (one of the front and one of the back of the t-shirt) and tying them together in a knot.

If you left it like this then the bottom of your bag would be full of tiny holes. To remedy this, you need to tie the front and back of each pair of strips together. Confused? So was I.

Hopefully this helps

I’ve numbered the front of the first pair with a 1, and the back of the second pair with a 1. Tie these two together. I’ve numbered the back of the first pair 2, and the front of the second pair also with a 2. They get tied together. The same goes for those strips labelled 3 and 4. Go ahead and tie these together too. Work your way along the shirt tying the front and back of your pairs together until you reach the other end and find yourself with something which looks a bit like this.

You’re done! See, I told you it would only take 10 minutes. All that’s left to do is to turn your bag in the right way, and fill it with tasty stuff next time you’re at the supermarket. Et voila!


[1] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-36917174





The St Peter’s Hospice Shops Blog is written by Jenny Hall. Jenny, who has lived in Bristol for 12 years, has a love of fashion, vintage clothing and costume. Earlier this year, Jenny won our Bristol Strictly Come Dancing 2016 competition with her dance partner, Cameron Milne

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