Bag Hag: How to Make Upcycled Grocery Totes with Old T-Shirts (in 5 Minutes)


How to make upcycled grocery totes with old t-shirts

Last weekend, Jeff and I cleaned out our dresser and when we got to the pajama drawers, I realized that the pjs section is starting to consist almost solely of t-shirts that neither one of us really wanted anymore. So, we stacked them all up in a pile and I brought them to the studio because I’m a hoarder so I could repurpose them for something new.

And that’s how these DIY reusable grocery bags came about. There’s only a couple lines to be sewn and the rest is just clever cutting, so this project literally takes less than 5 minutes to make. Can’t beat that. Click through for the tutorial.

DIY upcycled grocery totes with old t-shirts (like that neon green polka dot number)

How to make upcycled grocery totes with old t-shirts


  • old t-shirt
  • sewing machine
  • scissors


1. Turn t-shirt inside out and sew a zigzag stitch in a straight line across the bottom of the shirt opening, 1-2 inches up from the very bottom. Backstitch at the beginning and end for extra strength. Then, for extra strength, run over the zig zag stitch a second time.

2. To create more finished looking corners, add a zigzag stitch at a diagonal on each corner, as shown in photo. Then cut off any excess fabric.

3. Next, cut off the sleeves and the neck area as shown in the photo, for a one handle option. For a two handle option, see cutting technique below.

4. Next, sew a zigzag stitch across the top, where the collar was, to create the strap. Just like in step one, be sure to backstitch at the beginning and end and go across the stitching at least twice for extra strength.

5. Cut off excess fabric and turn the bag right side out.

How to make upcycled grocery totes with old t-shirts

And here’s the different handle options that you can do. Either one handle or two…

How to make a tote bag with a t-shirt

Use these grocery bags to replace plastic bags at the store or use them as extra storage in your car, etc to keep items from rolling around in the trunk, etc. You could even use them as a regular tote / light purse option if you’re feeling crazy.

How to make upcycled grocery totes with old t-shirts

How to make upcycled tote bags from old t-shirts

DIY upcycled grocery totes in 5 minutes (using old t-shirts)

How to make upcycled totes with old t-shirts (in 5 minutes)

Sewing Liz Scoper
Model Stephanie Reagan
Photography Brittni Mehlhoff

Think you’d give this upcycled project a try? Do you have any old t-shirts in need of some repurposing?

21 comments | Click here to reply

This is perfect! I’ll definitely try it x

Jessica — NinetyCo 

Jessica | January 25th, 2017 at 9:29 am

Let me know how it goes, Jessica.

Brittni | January 25th, 2017 at 10:00 am

This is SUCH a good idea! And seems so easy to do too, I’ll have to give this a go.

Beckie xo || The Pale Tails

Beckie | January 25th, 2017 at 10:39 am

Definitely Beckie. Super easy!

Brittni | January 25th, 2017 at 10:41 am

I want to make this.
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Sophie | January 25th, 2017 at 11:52 am

You totally should, Sophie. So, so easy!

Brittni | January 25th, 2017 at 12:46 pm

Such a cool idea!
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Michelle | January 25th, 2017 at 1:43 pm

Thanks Michelle!

Brittni | January 25th, 2017 at 1:50 pm

I love making new things out of old and worn clothes. I made a shirt for sleeping out of my boyfriends old shirts:
Greetings from Berlin,
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Kali | January 25th, 2017 at 5:26 pm

Hi! Love this idea! However, I do not see the cutting/sewing instructions for the 2-handled version. Are there any? I see you mention it, but I’m not seeing any. Thanks for the tute! 😄

Lisa | January 26th, 2017 at 8:34 am

What an awesome way to re-purpose old clothes! I just got a sewing machine for Christmas so I’m super excited to try new things. This looks easy enough to take on!
Thanks for sharing

-Blythe xo //
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Blythe | January 27th, 2017 at 1:24 pm

What a genius idea. I’m so going to do this with my old shirts.

Clifford Henderson | January 29th, 2017 at 10:11 am

Thank goodness I don’t have to trash my old t-shirts anymore in garbage or use it for moping floor. 😛 Thanks for sharing this valuable easy DIY. 😀
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Manavi Siddhanti | January 30th, 2017 at 5:37 am

I know I’m blind, but don’t see the picture for cutting two handles.

Micky | January 30th, 2017 at 12:42 pm

This is a lovely idea! Now to find old shirts that could still look good enough for a bag… 🙂
I may be confused, but I don’t understand how to do the two handle option. The picture of the sleeves being cut off would be for a single handle, no?
Thank you!

Anna | February 1st, 2017 at 10:54 am

Thanks for catching that Lisa, Blythe, Micky, and Anna. You’re right, I didn’t have the two handle cutting example in the post. I went back to add it in once I saw your comments and realized I didn’t actually take a photo of it at all. So, I cut a new shirt, to show how to do the two handle method and updated the post. You’ll see the side by side of the one handle and the two handle cutting techniques now, right under the tutorial photos. Let me know if you have any questions, but the two handle method is made the exact same way, you just skip steps 4 and 5.

Brittni | February 2nd, 2017 at 11:52 am

Ohh my goodness…!! what a great idea. I can use my old t-shirt for a carry bag. That way I can avoid the use of plastic bag. Kind of West to the Best idea. Friends I love this.
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Icegreen | February 3rd, 2017 at 7:04 am

This is so cool! this is not just stylish but it will also save you money and space. Thank you for this wonderful idea, hope you’d keep them coming

Laurel Santos | February 9th, 2017 at 3:55 am

[…] | Britt’s upcycled grocery totes I love these t-shirts upcycled into cool, patterned grocery totes. What a genius idea! (But then […]

The Things I Loved This Week - The Sweetest Occasion — The Sweetest Occasion | April 7th, 2017 at 9:48 am

This seems so easy to do and we love reuse. This is something we really like and we have written about it on our blog 🙂
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CreativeYou | May 31st, 2017 at 4:40 am

Hi! I’m a super SUPER beginner/novice at sewing with basically no experience so I’m sorry if this question is stupid! With the one handled option I’m unsure how you are to sew that handle together. I see how to cut the sleeves off but it seems like if you just sewed the remaining piece at the back of the neck hole to the remaining piece at the front of the neck hole, they are quite different sizes (the front of the neck hole being longer because of the shape of neckline and cuts). Is this how you’re supposed to sew them together to create the single strap? Thank you so much in advance for any advice!

Christina | January 19th, 2018 at 6:14 pm
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