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Repurpose: T-Shirt to Reusable Tote

As we have gone through the experience of tidying up using the KonMari method, Aaron and I have come across some clothing that we are keeping, some that we are donating, some we are selling, and some that will get turned to rags. But of course, there are always a few shirts that we really enjoy but might not fit anymore or we wouldn't wear at this point in our lives. With articles of clothing, it is always helpful to think outside the box to come up with creative ways to repurpose an item that is dear to your heart, like turning an old t-shirt into a reusable tote!

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The story behind the t-shirt that I am using is a sweet one. When Aaron and I first started dating, he would tease me for talking and making comments while watching a movie. I don't think I was obnoxious, but I would interject little "-isms" while watching something and he started calling me the Peanut Gallery. For Christmas one year, he designed this t-shirt with a row of peanuts at a movie theater making comments during a film. It was such a clever and thoughtful gift that I love!



The t-shirt was always more form fitting because of the brand and their sizes running small, and I prefer my clothes more baggy, so I sadly did not wear this shirt much. When going through my clothes using the KonMari method, this shirt did still spark joy and I knew I had to think of a way to repurpose this sweet gift.


I saw this post by MommyPotamus about how to create a reusable bag out of a t-shirt as a no-sew tutorial, but I wanted to sew my bag since I didn't want the fringe on my bag. Though this tutorial has sewing, it is super quick on a sewing machine (around 10 minutes) or could be done by hand.



You will first need to lie your t-shirt on a flat surface and smooth it out so that it is as even as possible. I laid my t-shirt out on a rotary mat such as this one by Olfa and cut the sleeves with a rotary cutter for more even edges, but you can also use scissors. Once I cut the sleeves off, I also cut the neck matching the front of the neckline to create a deeper opening to the bag.


T-shirt with the sleeves and neckline cut.

Once the sleeves and neck were cut, I turned the t-shirt inside out to begin pinning. I started pinning the bottom of the t-shirt to create the bottom of the bag. I then folded the edges of the sleeves and neck down once, just to make the bag look a bit more polished.


Pins along the sleeve.

All that's left is to sew! I sewed the bottom of the bag first, making sure to backstitch at each end to keep it from unraveling. I then stitched one sleeve, the neck, and lastly the second sleeve. Once all the stitching was done, I turned the bad inside out and voila!



Since this particular t-shirt was not a very thick material, I would not suggest using it for a heavy grocery load or as an overstuffed purse. If you have a t-shirt made from thicker material, it might be able to withstand that kind of weight.


The finished product!

Uses for this reusable tote include:


- A light purse (wallet, keys, phone, chapstick, small book/Kindle, etc.)

- Multiple light grocery items

- Clothes shopping

- Grabbing a book at the library

- Small beach tote (towel, sunglasses, book, water bottle)

- Reusable gift bag

- Picking wildflowers

- Knitting bag



Ideas for t-shirts to make a tote with:


- Childhood camp shirt

- Favorite band tee

- Vacation spot tee

- Old pajama shirt

- Too small tee

- Fitness Studio freebie

- Volunteering shirt

- Sports team tee/jersey

- School/Alma Mater shirt



Repurposing your old t-shirts is a great way to keep them out of a landfill and bring you joy to see a shirt that you enjoy being used for a new purpose. They can also make fun gifts if you don't mind giving the t-shirt to family or a friend.


Maybe you and a friend went to the same camp as kids and as a gift you make them a tote with your camp shirt. Or perhaps you went on a great vacation with your family and make a t-shirt from that vacation for one of your family members who went on that trip with you.



If you are into thrifting you can look for fun graphic tees to make tote bags out of and either use them yourself or give them to friends and family. Not only does this repurpose an article of clothing, but buying a thrifted t-shirt and repurposing it is less expensive and takes less resources compared to buying a new reusable tote!


Comment below if you try this craft and make a reusable tote out of an old t-shirt! Do you think this is a craft you can see yourself doing in the future? What t-shirt have you been holding onto and could make a tote with?


xoxo

TBS

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