Friday, August 26, 2011

Project + Green Style:: Rocking a T-Shirt Bag

This little t-shirt bag was so fun to make and only required some basic sewing skills. I've loved this t-shirt for a very, very long time...looooong like 10 years long. It's a Dead 50s shirt - a Rockabilly band from my home town. I used to go see their shows with a close friend of mine. A great way to remember those fun times and still rock the punk band style without looking like I'm trying to salvage my youth was to *upcycle* (turning old products into new, updated items) this tee into a handy bag. I've been using mine to tote my craft projects around but I also sport it as a casual purse to live shows. It's an awesome accessory with a bit of attitude for your basic tee, jeans and cute pair of flips!

Rocking DIY T-shirt Bag

Here's how I made it::
1. I trimmed off the sleeves removing the seam leaving two raw curved edges. Then I used a plate to measure the curve to cut out the neck area by using a standard dinner plate as a guide. This left me with two 3 inch wide handles on my bag.
2. Next I measured up the bottom of the shirt where I wanted the bottom of the bag to be and made a French seam. I trimmed quite a bit off the bottom of the shirt (about 8 inches) and these pieces I set aside to turn into smaller pouch bags (see instructions for pouches below). If you need help with a French seam check out these instructions here.
Rocking DIY T-shirt Bag
3. After you have your bottom seam finished, it's a nice touch to box the corners. This adds dimension to your bag and your stuff sits in it much nicer with a semi-flat bottom when it hangs. I learned how to box corners here...but don't be intimidated, it's way easier than it looks - I didn't use the fancy ruler beacuse I don't have one and they still came out even!
Rocking DIY T-shirt Bag
4. For some extra detail and a less "made it myself" look, I added white contrast stitching around the very edge of each arm opening. Fold the edge of the raw arm opening under less than 1/2 an inch and iron on high steam to flatten. Stitch along edge in a tight zigzag stitch.
Rocking DIY T-shirt Bag
5. To add a custom touch to my bag, I wanted to do something fun with the handles. I cut each handle at the seam, crisscrossed them and stitched them together hiding the seam underneath. Then I folded the raw edges under, pinned them in place, and stitched a short straight stitch on either side of the original seam. This hid some of the zigzag detail but that's okay because it helped hide the seams and gives the handles a finished look.
Rocking DIY T-shirt Bag

Here's how I made the pouches::
1. Cut the remnants of the bottom of the shirt in two. Working inside out, add a seam to the side and then add a French and small box seams to the top cut edge. Leave the original hemmed bottom of the shirt as the opening for the bags. 
2. Cut a small slit in the original hem making an opening that creates a tube. Fish a ribbon through the tube with a safety pin.

3. Pull both ends of the ribbon through a button with an eye hole backing. Add beads to each strand and tie a knot in each end of the ribbon. Trim excess ribbon. Follow these steps to turn the sleeves into pouches as well.

I use these little bags for my yarn. I can keep the draw string pulled and pull my thread as needed with no tangles. I have four pouches for four different balls of yarn that all fit in my t-shirt bag with my needles and other items to make a Rocking Craft Bag!

If you don't want to sew a t-shirt bag, check out this great t-shirt market bag that helped inspire this project by Honestly...WTF.  And in my search, I also found this more modern t-shirt grocery bag I want to try making soon as well by // Between The Lines //.  This project also inspired my little pouches. :)

If you make your own beautiful market/t-shirt bags share your links in the comments. Thanks and happy t-shirt upcycling!!


  1. I love three things you are doing here.

    1. You are adding a little punk rock DIY attitude to your life and being creative with it.

    2. You are upcycling to keep the world a little greener… good for you.

    3. You are supporting a local music. I love the Dead 50's and actually helped them create the devil logo they use.

    I recently started a music blog and will probably be covering some Dead 50's when I can, but I found this project so cool I decided to write an article on this look for it to be published on Thursday on the Sound Convictions blog ( or after Thursday morning 8:30 central time).

    Anyhow, thanks for sharing, this is pretty cool.

    1. Thanks so much, Dale. I connected with you on your post. I appreciate the coverage.

  2. OHHH I love this I need to make one! Love your blog following you!
    Hope you stop by and follow me back.

    1. Thank you, Cayli. I will definitely follow you.