DIY tote bag in 5 simple steps

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1to1 summer intern Amanda has the answers, folks. Check out her FIVE simple steps to personalized DIY tote bags.

Here at 1to1, we really love bags- AWAY bags, tea bags, reusable grocery bags, and our latest: tote bags made from old t-shirts. It’s a really simple DIY (ahem- Do It Yourself) project. It’s perfect for a grocery or produce bag, a beach bag, or a gym bag. The material is so easy to take care of- just pop it in the washing machine and hang it on your clothesline to get it clean! Treat it like it never changed from its’ long loved life as a t-shirt (so it doesn’t get overwhelmed by the transition from beloved favorite tshirt to beloved favorite tote bag).

Step 1

Pick from your endless collection of marathon and event t-shirts, silly tie-dyes, or whatever t-shirt that is taking up space in your drawers. The bigger the shirt, the bigger the bag.

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Step 2 

Get your best fabric splittin’ scissors out! Make three simple cuts- cut the collar and the sleeves, like you would for most t-shirt upcycles. These will be your handles and the top of your tote! Keep the shoulder portion o the shirt thick. If you’d like a more drastic tote top, cut extra around the collar for a nice deep opening. This is all up to personal preference!

If balance is a priority, after cutting the first sleeve, you can fold the t-shirt over to match the second sleeve perfectly.

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Step 3 

Use the length and width of your pointer finger to measure strips at the bottom of the tee and cut. Imagine fringe. Cut on front and back of t-shirt at the same time.

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Step 4

Now that you have a fringe tank top, use the matching strips of the fringe on the top and bottom side of the t-shirt to tie double knots along the length of the shirt. Voila! This is the bottom of your bag, so tie them tight.  

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Step 5

When the knots are all finished, so is the project! Flip it inside out if you would rather hide the knots.  


See how easy it is to upcycle your old clothes and avoid buying new reusable grocery bags? One of my favorite parts about these tote bags is how small they can be squished down to fit in your purse or cup holder so you are ready to purchase at all opportunities.

Pro tip: From recently leading this project at summer camps, we’ve realized it is really good knot practice for your little dude or dudette who may learning how to tie their shoes or becoming stronger knot makers.

Overall, it is an easy and quick craft for all ages, so pass it on to your friends and slowly but surely we can become a plastic bag-less world. Enjoy!