Apr 22

DIY: T-Shirt to Tote Bag Transformation

by: Shari Hersh and Norah Langweiler

Earth Day Turns 50! 

To celebrate, we’re featuring a quick DIY from Trash Academy, a Mural Arts initiative that uses art and creativity as a vehicle to turn the concept of ‘trash’ on its head and help our communities imagine a new way of caring for our neighborhoods. Haul out that old sewing machine, grab a stack of old t-shirts, and get yourself some brand new tote bags!

Follow along with our instructional video:

What You'll Need 

  • T-shirt
  • Scissors
  • Cardboard
  • Sewing Machine
  • Paint or Markers

Bring Your Own bag, bag-making and the Trash Academy board game, January 10, 2019. Photo by Steve Weinik.

Step 1 

Cut the sleeves off your t-shirt.

Step 2 

Cut the neckline out of the shirt. It has to be a little wider than the original neckline. Make sure you don’t cut it too wide or the straps will be too narrow and flimsy.

Step 3 

Turn your t-shirt inside out.

Step 4 

Sew the bottom of the t-shirt closed using two rows of zig-zag stitch on the sewing machine. You don’t need to be a skilled sewer for this project – it’s easy enough for anyone to try it!

No sewing machine? Give hand-stitching a try. It may not be as strong but it will certainly do the trick!

Step 5 

Turn your t-shirt right-side out. Get ready to decorate!

Step 6 

Slip a piece of cardboard into the shirt to ensure and lay it flat. This will ensure your paint or markers do not seep to the other side.

Step 7 

Color or paint your bag to your heart’s content!

Step 8 

Download and print Reusable Bag Jeopardy.

Put Jeopardy in your bag so that when friends compliment your bag you can whip it out for a quick game! Did you know 2 million plastic bags are used every minute? Challenge your friends’ knowledge with the game to spark a conversation about climate change. Making a reusable bag is a great way to do your part and an easy craft anyone can do.

Don’t forget to post your DIY bag to social! #BYOBagPHL

Bring Your Own bag, bag-making and the Trash Academy board game, January 10, 2019. Photo by Steve Weinik.

Last updated: May 11, 2020

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