How to Make a Bag from an Old T-shirt

Updated on July 19, 2016
DIY Shirt Bags
DIY Shirt Bags | Source

When I was a kid I loved turning clothes I had outgrown or unwanted hand-me-downs from relatives into new things. One project I enjoyed was turning shirts into bags. I was actually inspired by a bag I bought from Hot Topic that looked like it had been made out of a lightweight kid's penguin hoodie. This bag opened my eyes to a whole new world of DIY possibilities and ever since then I've been looking for DIY fashion inspiration in everything, everywhere I go.

So here are a few step-by-step tutorials on how to create your own bags from unwanted shirts, sweaters, hoodies, tank tops, and long sleeves. All of the designs I've drawn out are pretty basic and easily customizable with fabric paint, embellishments, or whatever else you'd like to add. However, I've also included links and resources to more elaborate tutorials if you're looking for more of a challenge or a different style.

For more DIY fashion projects, check out my DIY Fashion Inspiration Pinterest board and be inspired!

Tank Top Tote
Tank Top Tote | Source
DIY bag finishing options.
DIY bag finishing options. | Source

Basic Tank Top Tote

This is the simplest way to convert a shirt into a bag.

Take a tank top and turn it inside out.

Cut off any excess material from the bottom if you think it is too long, leaving a seam allowance.

Sew up the bottom of the bag.

Turn it right side out. Decorate and embellish it any way you choose.

The arm holes act as the straps and the neckline is the opening to the shirt.

If you have excess material you can use it to make a strap or flap to close your bag. You could also add a snap or button to the inside to close it up.

Excess material could also be used to create a small pocket on the inside or outside of your shirt.


Here are some tutorials demonstrating other ways to create bags out of tank tops:

Gathered or 6 Pocket Tote Bag

Another Gathered Tote with decorating tips

1-minute DIY Tank Top Bag
1-minute DIY Tank Top Bag | Source

Reversible Tank Top Tote

Here's a way to make a tank top tote that you could use as a shirt again if you want to. This is a great DIY fashion project if you need a bag at the beach or quickly last minute. It's also great for those of your who are not so great for a no-sew method of making shirt totes or a kid's project.

All you need is a tank top and a hair tie, rubber band, or piece of string/ribbon.

Take your tank top and turn it inside out.

Take your hair tie, rubber band, or whatever you're using and secure it tightly at the bottom of your tank top.

Turn your shirt right side out and you have your tank top bag!

If you ever need to use your shirt again, just take out the hair tie/rubber band, iron out the shirt and you're good to go!

As a side note, if you intend to reuse your tank top again, try not to carry heavy things in the bag or it will stretch out your shirt and warp the fit.

T-shirt Tote Bag
T-shirt Tote Bag | Source
DIY Market/Grocery/Produce Bag
DIY Market/Grocery/Produce Bag | Source

Basic T-Shirt Tote

This tote is similar to the tank top tote, except for an extra step.

When starting your t-shirt tote, cut off the sleeves and cut out the collar so the straps can stretch a bit.

Then continue as you would with a tank tote:

Turn the shirt inside out.

Trim off excess length from the bottom.

Sew up the bottom.

Turn right side put and decorate.

You could finish the edges of the straps, if you want, or you could just stretch the material a bit so it curls and won't unravel.

You could add pockets with material from the sleeves or excess.

Add a flap, strap, button, or snap to keep your bag closed.

Create a produce bag by cutting horizontal or vertical slits in a pattern across the bag.


Here are some other great ways you can create your t-shirt bags:

Grocery Bag w/ Sleeve Pouch

Easy Knit Produce Bag

Upcycled T-Shirt Bag

DIY long sleeve shirt or hoodie bag.
DIY long sleeve shirt or hoodie bag. | Source
DIY animal bags.
DIY animal bags. | Source

Long Sleeve Bag

You could convert your long sleeve shirt into a bag the same way you did your t-shirt, or you could try this way!

Turn your long sleeve shirt inside out.

Trim excess material from the bottom, if needed (leaving a seam allowance) and stitch shut.

Turn right side out.

Using an invisible stitch, sew the openings of the sleeves together. This will be the strap, so if you think it'll be too long, trim it first.

Add finishing touches and enjoy.

Use a long sleeve shirt with a hood for a flap to the bag.

Use excess material to create a strap or flap to keep the bag shut.

Add a snap or button to keep the bag closed.

Use excess material to make pockets.

Line bag with a t-shirt or fabric for extra strength.


Here are some other ways to create bags out of long sleeved shirts.

Make a Bag Out of a Long-sleeved Kids Shirt

Long Sleeve Shirt Bag V.2

Men's Button Down & Tie to Cute Tote Bag (long sleeves not needed)

DIY Sweater or Hoodie Bag
DIY Sweater or Hoodie Bag | Source

Sweater or Hoodie Bag

You can make hoodie and sweater bags the same way as you make t-shirt totes or long sleeve bags, or you can make them this way.

For a diaper bag or large purse use an adult size sweater or hoodie. For a make up bag or a smaller purse use a child or baby size sweater or hoodie.

Also, while handsewing is fine when working with lightweight materials like cotton t-shirt fabric, it is much easier to make sweater bags with a sewing machine than to sew it by hand. This could be a good project for sewing machine novices to get some practice in.

Take your sweater and cut out the bottom half, this is the section you will be using for the body of your bag.

Trim off any excess length, leaving about an inch seam allowance. If you're using a wool or knitted sweater, I'd suggest using the bottom part of the sweater as the opening for your bag. If you are using a sweatshirt or hoodie, remove the band at the bottom or use it as the opening of your bag.

Create straps out of the sleeves. If you want a messenger bag then cut sleeves into four equal rectangle strips. Stitch the short ends of two of the strips together and repeat with the other two. Then, Sew the strips on top of each other, wrong side facing out. Turn it inside out and you have a messenger bag strap.

For handbag straps cut four evenly sized rectangles. Sew one strip on top of the other with the wrong side facing out, then turn inside out. Repeat with the other two strips and you have your handles.

Alternatively, you can create straps by cutting strips from the sleeves and braiding the material.

Turn your material inside out. Hem raw edges of opening. Stitch straps or handles to the inside of the bag. Add lining and a zipper if desired, then stitch the bottom shut.

Turn bag right side out and add any finishing touches.

If your sweater was wool and you'd like a felted look, before adding your finishing touches, wash your bag in hot water, rinse with cold water, and then put in the dryer. The bag will come out felted.

Try using material from an old belt, a hip chain, jean or canvas material, or other materials to make bag straps instead of the sleeves for a more interesting look.


Other Ways to turn sweaters and hoodies into bags.

Sweater Bag & Socks

Other DIY Bag Tutorials

Fused Plastic Bag Tote - Take all of those plastic bags you get from the supermarket and turn them into an awesome reusable tote.

DIY Graphic Bag - Dress up an old purse with this glamorous tutorial.

Galaxy Fabric Bag - Learn how to make fabric that looks like outer space and how to make a cute pouch style bag.

DIY Fold up Tote - Fold up totes are awesome for trips, people who are out a lot, and mommies on the go. You can also easily bring a bunch of them with you to the supermarket and use them as needed in place of plastic bags.

Other Upcycled Shirt Projects

T-Shirt Yarn Knit Market Bag - This tutorial shows you how to turn a shirt into yarn and provides a knitting pattern to make a market bag.

DIY Braid Jewelry - Use the t-shirt yarn you made in the tutorial above and this tutorial to create cool braided jewelry pieces.

10 T-Shirt Scarf Tutorials - Really cute and sweet, easy to make, t-shirt scarf tutorials.

T-Shirt to Baby Dress - This tutorial demonstrates how you could turn a kid sized shirt into a cute baby dress.

Fitted Tee Tutorial - Have a large shirt you like but doesn't fit right? Use this tutorial to obtain the perfect fit.

Questions & Answers


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      • followthestray profile image

        Samantha Harris 4 years ago from New York

        They're especially nice for the summer or for kids because you don't mind so much if they a little messed up and if they get dirty you can just throw them in the wash with your other clothes. :)

      • FullOfLoveSites profile image

        FullOfLoveSites 4 years ago from United States

        It's really cute! These old t-shirts will make fashionable eco bags. Thanks for posting followthestray! Will follow them. Up and useful, bookmarked. :)

      • followthestray profile image

        Samantha Harris 5 years ago from New York

        No problem and thank you too.

      • Vector design profile image

        Saim 5 years ago from California

        Interesting tips and tricks to make the bags with old T-shirts. i really like your idea. thanks

      • MsDora profile image

        Dora Weithers 5 years ago from The Caribbean

        Cool! Will certainly come back to this hub. Thanks for sharing your creativity. Voted Up and Useful.

      • Cathy Fidelibus profile image

        Ms. Immortal 5 years ago from NJ

        I love this idea. Will pass it on!

      • faythef profile image

        Faythe Payne 5 years ago from USA

        WOW..very cute and great up and across the board.