How to make a Bag out of an old T-Shirt

How to make your own t-shirt bag

I`d seen this photo of a t-shirt repurposed as a bag on pinterest what feels like a long time ago, and I had always planned to use this for the T-shirt I got at the end of the Inka Trail Trek. I knew I would never wear it but I also knew I could never throw it out. Well, I finally got around to actually making my t-shirt bag, and it was super easy!

1. Cut a semi-circle around the neck

Start by taking a plate or other flat, round object of similar diameter, and draw a circle around the neck.

How to make your own t-shirt bag

Cut along the line you just drew.

2. Cut along the seam for the sleeves

Next, cut along the seams for the sleeves to remove them, making sure to leave the seams in place.

How to make your own t-shirt bag

3. Sew the bottoms together

Next, turn the t-shirt inside out, and sew along the bottom bringing the front and back together.

How to make your own t-shirt bag

4. Make gussets (optional)

I opted to sew gussets on my bag, which turned out to be super easy! On the two bottom corners, bring the side and bottom seams together to make a triangle. Draw a line about 4 inches long along the bottom of the triangle.

How to make your own t-shirt bag

I pinned along the line to be sure the t-shirt wouldn`t move on me.

How to make your own t-shirt bag

I then sewed along this line, and cut off the excess.

How to make your own t-shirt bag

And that`s it. A bit of cutting, 3 lines of sewing and it`s done! Complete with a gusset.

How to make your own t-shirt bag

How to make a Travel Jewelry Pouch

My mom has this awesome Jewelry Pouch that she takes with her on every trip she goes on. It’s big enough to bring a few statement pieces and small enough that it fits in any tight space in her suitcase. It also boasts some lovely space separators to keep smaller items, like rings and earrings, from getting lost and/or caught in bigger items like necklaces and bracelets.

So I set about making two of my own; one to bring all my jewelry with me to the Netherlands and one to travel with on all my other trips! These instructions are for the smaller travel pouch.

Jewelry Pouch

Start by cutting the following pieces:

  • 2 – 11″ diameter piece (large)
  • 1 – 8″ diameter piece (medium)
  • 1 – doughnut shaped piece – 8″ OD, 3″ ID
  • 1 – 3.5″ diameter piece (small)
  • 1 – 1.5″ x 8″ piece

I spent some time putting different fabrics together before deciding on what I wanted. This was a great way to use up some scrap pieces of fabric I had. I used an old, ripped pair of pj’s, fabric from an old, ill-fitting dress, and leftovers from the drawstring bags I made several years ago.

For those big-picture people like myself, here’s a diagram of what the final product should look like:

jewelry pouch diagram
Jewelry Pouch Diagram

Instructions

Press the the 1.5″ x 8″ piece in half lengthwise. Press each side in half again, so the rough edges are together in the centre. Press in half lengthwise again, and sew together. Alternatively, you could sew it together, lengthwise and turn right side out. I’m pretty crappy at turning small thing right side out, so I opted for the press method instead. Cut into 2″ pieces which will form the tabs for the inside of the pouch, where I thread my necklaces through. Sew these tabs int the small circle, facing in.

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Sew the small circle into the doughnut shaped piece, making sure to keep the tabs loose. This was by far the hardest part! There’s a small wrinkle that I couldn’t get rid of, and it sometimes drives me a bit crazy.

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2015-01-Jewelry Pouch
2015-01-Jewelry Pouch
Sew two button holes in the large circle, approximately opposite to each other, and approximately 2” from the outside of the circle.
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Sew the large circles together, wrong sides together.  Slash a hole in the middle of the large circle that doesn’t have the button holes, and turn it right side out. For a bit of extra security, I used a fusible interfacing to ensure the slashes don’t rip, but seeing as I sewed around this slash, it’s a step that can probably be skipped.

 

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Repeat this step with the medium circle and the small circle with doughnut piece, making sure to slash the medium circle not the small/doughnut combo!

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Sew around the large circles at the top and bottom of the button holes to create a pocket for the ribbon.

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Centre the medium circle in the large circle and sew along the small circle seam to connect the two pieces.

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Mark approximate locations for pockets with pins, and sew along these lines from the small circle to the edge of the medium circle. I have 8 (approximately) evenly spaced pockets at (approximately) N, NE, E, SE, S, SW, W, and NW. That’s one of the things I love about sewing this type of thing: approximate is a-okay!

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Thread two ribbons through, with the ends starting and ending on opposite sides of the circle. Pull these to close. I like to wrap the ends around the top for a bit of extra security.

Jewelry Pouch
Fill with beautiful jewels!

Jewelry Pouch

How to make Drawstring Bags

In order to reduce my waste at the bulk food store, I made some simple drawstring bags to use instead of the plastic bags provided.

For this project, I used some organic cotton that I found at my favourite Designer Fabrics along with the fabric that I got for my cotton make-up pads and handkerchiefs. I love the cute pattern of the girl with a balloon.

Cut fabric into rectangles

I wanted my bags to be about 8″ wide by 10″ long, so I cut rectangles that were 9″ by 23″. If you want a different size, just add 1″ to the width and 3″ to the length for the seam allowance.

Turn edges

Turn over each edge of the fabric by between 1/3″ and 1/2″. Press.

How to make Drawstring Bags

Make pockets for drawstrings

Turn the short edges over by about 1″. Press.

Make your own Drawstring Bags

Sew these short edges along the first fold you made, about 1″ from the short edge. Later on, we’ll thread ribbon or rope through these pockets to tie the bag together.

How to make Drawstring Bags

I used bright teal (fun!) because, as with the make-up pads, I didn’t have (truth: my mom didn’t have) any white thread.

Fold the fabric in half

Make sure that the short edges are in line and the good sides are touching.

How to make Drawstring Bags

Sew the long edges together

Start and stop at the line you sewed for the pockets so you can get the drawstrings through!

I sewed these seams twice, to try to keep leakage of the flour, sugar and other bulk items to a minimum.

How to make Drawstring Bags

Pull the drawstrings through

I find using two drawstrings, one from each side, makes it much easier to close the bags when they’re full and tie them shut so they stay that way.

How to make Drawstring Bags

Start by threading both strings through one side. I find by attaching the string or ribbon to a safety pin and using that to thread them through the pocket makes it a lot easier!

Thread one string through the rest of the way. Tie the two ends of the same string together and, in my case, melt to seal.

How to make Drawstring Bags

Thread the other string through the other way so that the ends of both strings are on opposite sides of the bag. Tie off and seal.

How to make Drawstring Bags

Voila! By pulling on the ends of each string, the bag will close.

How to make Drawstring Bags

I made a few of these in a variety of sizes. They’re not all the same design, but the one I described above is by far the best and easiest to use.  I’ve spilled quinoa all over my shopping bag with another design. I will be fixing it the next time I’m at my parents and can steal my mom’s sewing machine.

FYI – These are also excellent for storing fresh produce in the refrigerator.

How to make Cotton Make-up Pads

I decided when I started to get to Zero Waste that I would take things as slowly as possible, and replace items with re-useable/bulk options as I run out. Seeing as I knew I was going to run out of the cotton make-up removal pads I use to put toner on my face after washing it, I thought those would be another quick and easy sewing project!

I got some waffle looking cotton that looked absorbent, and it turned out to be very absorbent! I also used some of the leftover white cotton from my tie up shades project!

As with the handkerchiefs, I was pretty lax about getting the fabric square.  I cut each of the fabrics in into 3 inch squares and sewed them together, leaving a small opening in one side so you can turn them right side out.

Clip the corners, then turn them right side out.

Press, making sure that the unsewn part is completely turned under.  Sew around the outside. I used fun pink and teal!

I use each only once to put toner on my face, then wash them in a mesh laundry bag. I figure they’ll last longer that way.

How to make Handkerchiefs

I am actually an old woman.  I listen to (and am passionate about) CBC Radio One, I knit, I love hot water with lemon. And now, I use handkerchiefs, rather than facial tissue.

A quick look at my goal to drastically reduce the amount of waste I produce showed me that I need to first reduce the amount of paper products I use. And while I could go out and buy some handkerchiefs, I thought it would be another fun sewing project!

So I headed on over to Designer Fabrics again to find some simple cotton. I ended up with what I think is shirt fabric – it’s white with a small blue check. I bought the minimum amount – 1/2 a yard but now I think I’ve founds something to do with my old work shirts when I can’t wear them anymore!

I was pretty lax about getting the fabric square, and it didn’t end up being a problem at all.  I just cut the fabric in half lengthwise, and then cut it into squares.

I then pressed (omg, more pressing!) the sides over twice to make a nice seam.

Then sew around the edges. I ran out of white yarn, so I used a pretty blue grey to match the check pattern in the fabric for some of them. A crazy colour might be fun too!

Easy peasy and ready to use!  Making 8 of them took a bit over an hour, and cost about $2!

I think I’m going to put a sewing machine on my Christmas/Birthday list this year!  That way I can visit with my parents when I’m at their house, rather than sitting downstairs using my mom’s sewing machine and iron.

How to make Tie Up Shades

I recently moved into a new apartment, and needed some blinds for my room. I figured the neighbours had had enough of a show!

I went to my new favourite fabric store, Designer Fabrics, 1360 Queen Street West. They have a HUGE selection, it’s very organized and priced really well. The lady and gentleman who helped me were very friendly and super helpful, and I was able to get some simple white cotton, white black-out backing and ribbon for about $25. I will definitely be returning for my next sewing project!

I wanted something very simple but beautiful – if you noticed them you’d think they were nice, but you might not notice them, and I think what I ended up with turned out perfectly. This is one project that looks as nicely in real life as it did in my head!

To start, measure your window so you know how big to make the shades. The window I wanted to cover is 45″ wide and 56″ high. You will also want to wash and iron your fabric. My white cotton had a nice little dirt mark on it that came out beautifully in the wash.  Don’t forget to do a quick zig-zag stitch around the outside to stop any fraying that might happen.

Lay the fabric out flat and measure 1 inch wider and 4.5 inches taller than your window. In my case, I measured 46″ wide and 60.5″ high. I cheated and used my dad’s drywall square to make sure my shades were perfectly square!

Mark with a pencil or chalk and cut to size. My mom had some blue chalk that was older than me! Good thing it still worked.

Repeat with the backing.

Put the right (out) sides together, pin along the bottom and side edges and sew in a straight line with a 1/2″ seam allowance (1/2″ from the edge). In my case, neither fabric had a right or wrong side!

Cut the corners to remove bulk and turn the square inside out.  I use my scissors to make sure the corners are nice and square.

Press the edges. There’s going to be a lot more pressing.

Sew along the 3 edges.

Lay your square flat again and measure the length plus 4 inches, in my case, 60″. Mark this line and press to create a nice .

Measure 1″ from this new line, turn and press. This will give you a nice clean line on the back of the shade.

Next, measure 3″ from the new line, turn, press and pin.  This will be the pocket for your curtain rod.

Switching for a few seconds to the ties, you will need a length of ribbon 4 times the height of the window. In my case, I needed 224″.  Cut this in half. For a bit of extra flair, I cut my ribbons on a 30 degree (approximate) angle.

Now for assembly and final touches!

Measure a quarter of the width of the shades from each side, in my case 11 1/4″. This is where the ribbon will be attached. Fold each length of ribbon in half, and place on the top of the shade at the quarter mark. Pin them, making sure the ribbon is parallel with the shade. Sew the curtain rod pocket, approximately 2.5″ from the top of the curtain.

Draw your curtain over the curtain rod and put it up! I used a tension rod on the inside of my window

Voila! New shades for a fraction of the cost of what they would cost in the store!

Questions:

Do your DIY projects often turn out the way you think they will?
– Not all of my DIY projects turn out this nicely, I was pleasantly surprised.

What do you think I should do for my next project?
– I am thinking about a wall hanging to keep all of my jewelry on.