DIY T-shirt Tote Bag

DIY T-shirt Tote Bag

How to turn a t-shirt into a tote bag – no sew

Want a quick and easy project to do with your kids or for yourself?

Make a t-shirt into a tote bag without any sewing!



Wow, was this project fast and so simple! And what a great way to recycle all of the old t-shirts you have laying around

Do your kids have favorite t-shirts that they have grown out of? What a great way to keep their favorite shirts awhile longer and make them useful again.  And if you kids are old enough, they can do this project themselves.  I told my daughter she is going to have to make one of these for the 4H fair this summer, haven’t seen anything like this there before!


All the supplies you need are an old t-shirt and a pair of sharp scissors.


First, find an old t-shirt. I found this long sleeve shirt made of t-shirt fabric and I was ready to go.

diy t-shirt tote bag

It is a child’s size 10-12 so it makes a smaller bag, but any t-shirt size will work. If you choose a t-shirt that is made of thicker fabric, your bag will be even stronger than a thinner fabric. Some of my husband’s t-shirts would not work – he wears them until they are thin and full of holes , and then suddenly they disappear! (I sneak them into the garbage!)

Ready to start? First – cut off the sleeves.

turn t-shirt into tote bag

Then cut off the neck – this shirt had a bunch of decorative layers on the neck so I had to go all around it, but even if you have a t-shirt without fancy stuff, you still need to cut a ways down to make the opening of the bag big enough.

Simply cutting off the neck is not enough.

diy t-shirt tote bag


On the bottom of the t-shirt cut strips that are about 3″ up and about 3/4″ wide all the way across the shirt.

Make sure to cut through both the front and the back of the shirt at the same time to make sure all of your strips match up. This will make the fringe we need for tying.


Normally I would cut off the bottom of the shirt – to get rid of the seam first, but in the case of this shirt – I did not.

I didn’t want to get rid of the extra layer of black peace sign fabric, since it was so cute! If you are using a really large t-shirt, you can cut a lot off the bottom to make the bag shorter.

t-shirt into tote bag


Now the fun part – tying up the ends. Take two matching strips, one from the back and one from the front, and tie them together twice to make a double knot…if you do it really tight, you will not have very big gaps in the bottom of the bag.

Do this all the way across the bottom of the shirt.

how to recycle t-shirt

When I was done tying the bottom, I looked at my bag and felt there was something missing on the top. I have all of the designs on the bottom and the top looked empty. I decided to cut a few strips of fabric off the end of one of the sleeves and tie it onto the handles of my bag to fancy it up a little. It made a big difference – making my bag look finished.

how to recycle t-shirt


I’m going to keep the decorative neck and sleeves for awhile and see if I can come up with and idea to use the buttons and fabric from the sleeves for another project. I really should throw them away, since I have enough clutter already, but you never know when you can “take what you have and transform it”

recycle a t-shirt




Share with me your t-shirt transformations, I would love to hear other ideas for old t-shirts.

Especially – no sew ideas!