Tailgate DIY: T-shirt Bag

Posted by Robyn Alford on

Tailgate DIY: T-shirt Bag

If you're like me, you have a million t-shirts stored away that you never wear but don't have the heart to get rid of.  Whether these tees are from a vacation you took, ballgame you attended, concert you rocked out to or your first 5k race, these tees represent different memories.  So what do you do with them? Make something out of them that you can use in everyday life, of course!

I decided to turn some of my old tees into re-useable shopping bags!  And because these are "important" tees, I went the extra mile when making them.  You could definitely do it much simpler than I suggest, but don't these special tees deserve better?!  

Things you'll need for this DIY:

  • Old T-shirt(s)
  • Sewing Machine
  • Scissors
  • Pins
  • Thread
  • Fabric Pencil or Regular Chalk
  • Ruler
  • Iron

Here's the step-by-step(ish) guide:

1. Get old t-shirt. Wow, one step down, good for you!

2. Give your old tee a quick iron if really wrinkly (but avoid the screenprint or decor).

3. Flip your shirt inside-out (you're going to be doing most of your work with the shirt inside-out so don't skip this!). Take a deep breath...bust out the scissors and trim off both sleeves at the seam.  Set the sleeves aside for later.

4. The cut off sleeves and the neck make the bag "handles".  These handles are too wide so you need to trim the sleeve area a bit more.  It's best to use a ruler and mark evenly around the cut area so the seam will be relatively even.  Use your own judgement of how much you want to trim off based on the size and style of the tee and the purpose you foresee your bag serving.  On this tee, I cut an additional one inch off.  First I dotted the line and then connected the dots using my fabric pencil.

  

5. Now it's time to trim the bottom to give your bag nicely rounded corners.  I used the lid from my Dubble Bubble because....of course I did. But you can use whatever circle element you have handy.  Make sure the bottom hem is laying flat and matched up front to back and trace around your circle object creating a curved edge.  Cut along the curve you just traced.

6. Sew the hem of the shirt (still inside-out) together with a zig-zag stitch on your sewing machine.  You might want to pin it together so it doesn't slip when you're sewing.  I recommend doing a full seam across twice just to be sure the bottom is nice and secure.  No need to trim off the excess fabric (unless, of course, you went hog wild on your seam and sewed it two inches from the bottom hem!).  I just trimmed the curved fabric a bit so the corners of the bag would be more smooth.

7. Now let's get those "handles" looking nice.  With the shirt still inside-out, fold over where you trimmed the sleeves off.  If you want, you can press this seam before sewing.  Sometimes tee material won't hold a press and kind of roll up after it's been cut so this is totally optional.  You'll just need to pay attention when sewing that you catch both pieces. And don't panic if it rolls or twists while sewing and it doesn't look perfect - no one will notice!  Besides, it's a t-shirt...how fancy does it need to be?!  Use a straight stitch on the hem of the sleeves. 

8. Time to make the self-containing "pocket" so you can fold your bag back into itself for easy transport.  Find the sleeves you trimmed off earlier.  Align them back to back inside-out and use as much of the remaining fabric as possible to draw out a "pocket".   Take it to your sewing machine and use a straight stitch to sew the side(s) and bottom.  Trim off excess fabric.  In the photo, I used one sleeve which makes for a very tight pocket - definitely use both sleeves so the pocket is easier to fold the bag into.  

9. Once you've sewn your pocket, you're going to sew it to the tee bag.  I used the t-shirt tag as my guideline.  Sew a straight line joining the pocket and the bag from inside one side of the pocket.  

10. Flip your bag right-side out....and VOILA, you just made yourself (or someone else) an awesome re-usable bag!  The best part - you can easily wash these with the rest of your tees when your bag gets dirty.  AND it'll fit in your purse...backpack...suitcase...

 

If you want to take a shortcut, don't finish the edges of your "handles".  If you have a shirt with a small collar,  you'll want to trim it similar to the sleeves and also fold it over and sew a nice hem. Once you get the hang of it, this is about a 20 minute project depending your sewing skill level!  

 

Check out the other ones I made:

 


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