How to Make Your Own Tote Bag

Alyssa Mertes

Kyrsten Ledger

Promo Expert

Tote bags are pretty simple in design, and surprisingly, they can be fairly easy to make from old t-shirts. The materials needed to make your own t-shirt tote bag are everyday items most likely lying around your house. This method is perfect for beginners and you don’t even need a sewing machine!

Are you running low on tote bags? Do you have a bunch of t-shirts you no longer wear? Here’s how you can turn your tees into DIY bags in less than 10 minutes.

A Step-By-Step Guide to Making Tote Bags from T-shirts

Making your own bag isn’t just easy, but it’s also tons of fun! You can do it solo or throw a no-sew party. Whatever you decide to do, follow these easy steps.

What you’ll need:

  • Fabric scissors
  • Old t-shirt
  • Chalk
  • • Step One: Turn your tee inside out and draw curved lines around the sleeves and collar with chalk.
  • • Step Two: Cut off the sleeves and collar.
  • • Step Three: Draw a line across the t-shirt 4-5 inches from the bottom.
  • • Step Four: Cut the seam of the shirt until you reach the chalk line.
  • • Step Five: Tie the strands together in a double knot all the way across.
  • • Step Six: Fill the gaps by setting aside tying the outermost strands and tying the remaining knots together.
  • • Step Seven: Enjoy your new tote bag!
  1. Step 1
    Step 1

    Turn your t-shirt inside out. Draw a curved-line about an inch from each sleeve’s hem with chalk, as well as a half-circle line around the collar of the shirt.

    Step 1
  2. Step 2
    Step 2

    Cut the sleeves and collar of the shirt off, making sure you cut through both layers. These cuts will create the handles and opening of the bag.

    Step 2
  3. Step 3
    Step 3

    Draw a straight line across the t-shirt about 4-5 inches from the bottom.

    Step 3
  4. Step 4
    Step 4

    Starting on one side, cut the seam of the shirt until you reach the chalk line. Straighten the shirt back out and continue making ¾” wide cuts until the entire bottom of the shirt is cut.

    Step 4
  5. Step 5
    Step 5

    Tie the first set of strands into a double-knot. Repeat all the way across until all the strands are tied.

    Step 5
  6. Step 6
    Step 6

    To fill the gaps in the shirt, set aside the outermost strands of the first knots on each side of the bag. These pieces won’t be used. Take the second strand of the first knot and the first strand of the second knot, using them to tie another double-knot, filling the gaps. Repeat this step until the only strands not tied are the outermost strands on each side.

    Step 6
  7. Step 7
    Step 7

    Turn the shirt right-side out and you’re ready to use your custom t-shirt tote bag.

    Step 7

Watch how it's done in this step-by-step process!

Things to Consider

T-shirts can be made from the same materials as tote bags, making them versatile and easy to craft. With that being said, you should keep a few things in mind when making your own.

The bigger the t-shirt, the bigger your tote bag will be.

Don’t overcut the sleeves or collar of the shirt. Remember this will become the handles and opening of your tote bag.

Putting too much weight in your tote bag can cause it to stretch or tear.

The next time you’re running low on tote bags, remember you can always make your own! You’ll be the talk of the town with your new stylish, handmade bag.

What Else Can I Turn Into a Tote Bag?

Sewing can be difficult to tackle for some people, whereas others might find it a piece of cake. Whether you want an easy no-sew method or a sewing challenge, there’s an option for you. Go ahead and give these a try!

Material
Final Product

Material

Sweatshirt
Skill Level: Expert
Method: Sew

Final Product

Sweatshirt
www.favecrafts.com

Material

Denim Skirt
Skill Level: Intermediate
Method: No-sew

Final Product

Denim Skirt
thewhoot.com

Material

Pillowcase
Skill Level: Beginner
Method: No-sew

Final Product

Pillowcase
www.cremedelacraft.com

Material

Dog Food Bag
Skill Level: Expert
Method: Sew

Final Product

Dog Food Bag
barkpost.com

Making your own tote bag should be fun and tap into your creativity. If you’re not a sewing pro, don’t start with the hardest method. Start small and work your way up!

Why You Should Make Your Own Tote Bag

Tote bags are great for carrying groceries, makeup, clothes, and so much more! Aside from being unique to you, there are many benefits to creating your own tote bag.

Better for the Planet

Better for the Planet

Tote bags are better alternatives than plastic bags. Making your own tote bag will prevent items like plastic bags or old clothing items from winding up in landfills.

Saves You Money

Saves You Money

Most of the materials used to make your own tote bag are items you already have. Therefore, you aren’t required to go out and buy anything new. It’s a win-win.

Easy to Make

Easy to Make

You can make your own tote bag no matter your skill level. There’s a method for everyone! Find what works best for you and start crafting.

With advantages like helping the environment, staying on budget, and learning to craft, it’s hard to say “no” to making your own bag. Give it a try, you won’t regret it!

The Bottom Line

All you need to create your own tote bag is scissors, an old t-shirt, chalk, and 10 minutes of your time. This project will allow you to tap into those creative vibes and leave you with a stylish tote bag that’s all your own!

Kyrsten Ledger

Kyrsten Ledger

Kyrsten is an adventurous Copywriter at Quality Logo Products. She's a fan of language and history, and loves discovering new information and how it relates to the promotional world. If you need her, you'll find her with her nose stuck in a book, on a quest to learn something new, or planning her next adventure.