How to upcycle old t-shirts into reusable produce bags

How to upcycle old t-shirts into reusable produce bags

How to upcycle old t-shirts into reusable produce bags

Reusing old t-shirts is a great way to reduce waste and get creative. With just a few simple steps, you can transform your old shirts into reusable produce bags. These DIY bags are easier on the planet and your wallet compared to single-use plastic bags.

Gather Your Supplies

To start, you’ll need:

  • Old t-shirts – Look for shirts that are worn out, stained, or have holes. The softer and more worn the material, the better it will work for bags.

  • Scissors – You’ll need a good pair of fabric scissors for cutting the t-shirts.

  • Ruler – A ruler helps cut straight edges and get evenly sized bags.

  • Pins – Pins keep the fabric in place while you sew. Go with straight pins over safety pins.

  • A sewing machine – A basic sewing machine works best. You can hand sew but it will take longer.

  • Thread – Use a thread color that matches or contrasts with your shirts. Cotton thread works best.

  • Pencil – A pencil helps trace bag outlines on the fabric.

Optional supplies:

  • An iron can help press seams flat.

  • Fabric glue bonds seams without sewing.

  • Decorations like fabric paint, appliques, or studs can customize your bags.

Cut the T-Shirt Panels

Start by cutting the t-shirts into flat panels:

  1. Lay the t-shirt flat and cut off any sleeves. Remove any stains or graphics you don’t want.

  2. Cut the shirt from the bottom hem up to the armpits on both sides so you have a large rectangle of fabric.

  3. Lay the rectangle flat and cut off the shirt’s side seams and hem.

  4. For plain bags, cut two equally sized rectangles from the fabric. For bags with handles, cut two wider rectangle panels.

Sew the Produce Bags

Next, sew the panels into a finished produce bag:

  1. Place the two panels with the right sides facing and edges matched up. Pin along the edges.

  2. Sew the side and bottom seams with a 1⁄2 inch seam allowance. Leave the top open.

  3. Trim the seam allowance, turn the bag right side out through the opening, and press with an iron.

  4. Topstitch along the top edge for a finished look.

For bags with handles:

  • Measure and mark two equally sized handles on each long edge before sewing.
  • Reinforce handles by stitching over them a few times for durability.

Customize the Bags

Personalize your produce bags by:

  • Adding fabric paint designs

  • Sewing on applique shapes or patches

  • Stenciling designs with fabric paint

  • Attaching ribbons, rickrack, or other trims

  • Embroidering initials or designs

  • Stamping patterns with fabric ink

The options are endless! Use the bags for grocery shopping, at farmers markets, in lunches, or to give as gifts. Reusing old t-shirts reduces waste while showing off your creativity.