It’s been said before but it bears repeatin’: you can make reusable grocery bags very easily by recycling old t-shirts. No need to keep letting the grocer pack your goods in plastic bags just because you ‘intend’ to get some reusable and recycled bags. NO MORE EXCUSES! This is EASY!

Even though this is insanely easy and doesn’t live up to her penchant for crafts with 200+ steps, Martha Stewart still thought it was a good enough idea to include on her show.

You don’t even have to worry about getting your seams straight, using matching thread, etc., HONESTLY! It’s a shopping bag, who cares?! Now if you’re one of those folks who really cares about having a perfectly stitched and fashionable reusable bag, visit the fine folks at reusablebags.com. They have an incredible inventory of cool stuff.

Now, go grab some of those free shirts from trade shows. You know the ones: they were free, had some company brand name and catchy tagline and you just can’t bring yourself to throw them away because they’re perfectly good shirts.

Tools:

  • 1 T-shirt
  • Sewing machine (or iron-on seaming tape)

Steps

  1. Pick a shirt.
  2. Turn shirt inside out and smooth out the edge you’re going to seam.
  3. Sew the opening shut. To reinforce the entire bottom edge, I usually put two parallel seams about 1/8 inch apart to reinforce the bag for heavier groceries.

    (I always double stitch the beginning and end by using the reverse setting.)


    (Keep the edges together. This is more challenging due to the stretchy t-shirt fabric.)

  4. Cut off the sleeves. I cut them off leaving the seamed edge for added reinforcement.
  5. Trace a bigger circle for the neckline. This is the opening you’ll use for packing groceries.

    (I use a medium-sized plate to trace a larger opening.)
  6. Cut the bigger neckline out.
  7. Turn right side out and viola, a quick bag.

Tips:

  • If using shirts that are large, shorten the bag by sewing a few inches inward from the bottom edge. I thought I’d make a bag out of a XXXL shirt from a trade show and I’m only 5’4”. Needless to say, when it had groceries in it, it hit the ground.
  • Tank tops are easiest of all, just sew them shut at the bottom. No need to cut off sleeves or make the neck opening larger.
  • If you don’t like what the old shirt says, just sew it right side out and then turn it inside out to use. I had one like that, some company marketing slogan that I didn’t want to be seen with.
  • Kids t-shirts make great lunch bags.
  • Save sleeves and scraps for smaller bags. I reuse the sleeves to make stretchy belts for my bento boxes. Sewing them to be snug helps keep bento boxes closed.