Friday, October 9, 2009

That's My Bag, Baby: How to Make Repurposed T-Shirt Bags

I have a unexplained fear of my sewing machine. This is actually quite a shame for many reasons, particularly because my mother-in-law gave me a really nice sewing machine for Christmas a few years ago, complete with a fully-stocked sewing box. So, in my pursuit of all things frugal, economical, and thrifty, I am going to work past this phobia, one baby step at a time (Wow, two What About Bob? references in a week. Nice.) - and this little project was definitely a good way to start.

Just a few days ago, I was going through some of my family's old clothes, trying to decide what to keep, what to donate to the thrift store, and what to throw out. My husband has a ton of old t-shirts - his drawer is practically overflowing. As we combed through the collection of tees, we made quite a pile of ones that he was going to get rid of because they were faded, had holes in the armpits, and other minor defects - the unfortunate part was that some of these shirts were his favorites. Then, in a moment of pure inspiration, I remembered something I'd read about turning t-shirts into reusable bags (after doing some research, I realized I got the idea originally from good ol' Martha Stewart). Thus began my sewing baby step project.

To start, turn your t-shirt inside out and lay it on a flat surface. This will help you line up the bottom evenly as you pin it together (if you're feeling adventurous, you can skip the pins).

Sew the bottom of the t-shirt together. I think the thing that scares me most about the sewing machine is how I can barely touch the pedal and that needle goes crazy-fast. But, I'm happy to report, by the last t-shirt bag, I was going full-speed, thankyouverymuch.

Once the bottom of the t-shirt is sewn together, lay the shirt on the flat surface again. Get a medium-sized bowl (about nine inches wide) and put it half-way over the neckhole. Technically, I should have used a fabric pen, but I didn't have one. So, I used a Crayola washable marker instead (I know from experience, it'll come right out in the wash). Trace around the edge and then cut carefully on that line with fabric scissors.

Next, line up the hems of the sleeves and cut them off.

And now you have a t-shirt sack, ready to carry anything your heart desires. I'm going to use mine for groceries (as you can see above, I've tested it out) - I've been using the store-bought reusable grocery sacks, but some of them have already begun to tear at the seams. Plus, these are more fun and fit more easily in my purse. These would also make good bags for kids to use to hold books and toys during road trips, for trips to the library, or even to church. You could also experiment with other sizes of t-shirts: an child size or baby shirt could make for a cute little bag.

One more timely use: these work well as awesome trick-or-treat bags. I'm almost positive my son will want to use the pirate one, though the Batman one could be tempting...

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